Cannon Films

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Cannon Films , actually The Cannon Group , was an American film production company.


Successful years

Cannon Films was founded in 1967 by Dennis Friedland and Christopher C. Dewey and has produced a number of low-budget films as an independent film studio. As a result of several poorly running productions, Cannon Films ran into financial problems and was finally taken over in 1979 by the two Israeli cousins Menahem Golan (1929-2014) and Yoram Globus for $ 350,000.

Golan's intention was to establish another " major studio " in Hollywood. The company produced 43 films in 1986 alone. At that point, the company's share price had increased a hundredfold since the Golan and Globus acquisitions. A total of 125 films were made by Cannon between 1979 and 1989.

Cannon Films' business model was that while the film was being shot, or in some cases before, the distribution and television rights to the productions were sold internationally. The money raised in this way was invested in new projects before the respective films were released.

In addition to the production of cinema films, Cannon was the owner of a cinema chain, invested in the video market that emerged in the 1980s and bought the international video rights of classic film archives. The competitor Warner Bros. granted Cannon a loan of $ 25 million in 1987 to finance video rights.

The bankruptcy

In the late 1980s, after the video market cooled and the Thorn-EMI purchase weighed on the company, it went bankrupt. Due to the opaque funding of the movies, the bankruptcy was investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission .

Golan blamed Globus for the financial misery, after which the two did not speak to each other for years. Globus switched to MGM / UA Communication Co. and produced films there between 1990 and 1993 under the umbrella of "Cannon Pictures", mostly with still existing contracts with Michael Dudikoff and Chuck Norris. Golan continued to produce films independently as the head of the 21st Century Film Corporation .

Golan has been a major driving force behind the filming of the Marvel comic book Spider-Man since the 1980s . After the financing failed several times and the 21st Century Film Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 1996, Sony acquired the production rights and released the film Spider-Man in 2002 with great success.

Overview of the film productions

As an independent studio, Cannon did not belong to any of the major Hollywood studios. Occasionally one shot for a major studio, such as B. for Warner Bros. the Stallone action film The City Cobra . In addition, a distribution agreement was signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for the distribution of Cannon films. The focus was primarily on fast-moving and inexpensive B-movie productions. Mainly action films were produced, but adventure films (Quatermain) and horror films (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Part 2) were also on the program. The production budget was typically around $ 5 million per film. The majority of the films are to be regarded as entertainment products (a clear exception is e.g. Powaqqatsi ) and, compared to theatrical exploitation, had a greater success in the video market. The preferred location for the action films ( Ninja, the Killer Machine , the Missing-in-Action series, Delta Force II , American Fighter ) was the Philippines , probably because of the cheaper sets, which is also characteristic of B-films.

But the producers insisted on shooting one or two high-quality productions each year, most of which also took part in the Cannes film festival. These were u. a. Robert Altman's Fool for Love (with Kim Basinger and Sam Shepard), Powaqqatsi , Hanna's war , Shy People - Threatening Silence , Norman Mailer's Tough Men Don't Dance , Enfant Terrible , Charles Bukowski's Barfly (with Mickey Rourke) and Ein Schrei in der Dunkel ( with Meryl Streep and Sam Neill) and Othello (with Placido Domingo). Don't dance for tough men and Powaqqatsi even co-produced Francis Ford Coppola .

Cannon's stars included Sylvester Stallone , Chuck Norris , Charles Bronson , Jean-Claude Van Damme , Shō Kosugi and Michael Dudikoff . These all appeared several times in Cannon productions. The trend towards US patriotism typical of the Reagan era can be seen in many Cannon productions . B. in American Fighter , Delta Force , Invasion USA , Missing in Action or Freedom Fighters .

Directors who have been worked with include Sam Firstenberg , Aaron Norris , J. Lee Thompson and Joseph Zito . Menahem Golan himself also directed some of the films made under the Cannon umbrella.

Filmography (selection)

Sylvester Stallone

Charles Bronson

Chuck Norris

Richard Chamberlain

Jean Claude van Damme

Michael Dudikoff

David Bradley

Shō Kosugi

  • Ninja III - The Domination
  • Revenge of the Ninja
  • Ninja - Enter the Ninja

Cannon Movie Tales



In 2014 there were two documentaries about the rise and fall of Cannon Films. Globus and Golan himself appeared in The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films , but not in Electric Boogaloo .


  • Tobias Hohmann: Chuck Norris: Action Stars Volume 3 , media, publication and advertising company Knorr Martens, Hille, 2013. ISBN 978-3-942621-20-5 .
  • Austin Trunick: The Cannon Film Guide: Volume I, 1980–1984 , BearManor Media, 2020. ISBN 978-1-62933-581-0 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Tobias Hohmann: Norris, Hille 2013, p. 267f.
  2. Tobias Hohmann: Norris, p. 269.
  3. Tobias Hohmann: Norris, p. 268.
  4. Tobias Hohmann: Norris, p. 269f.
  5. Tobias Hohmann: Norris, p. 270.
  6. ^ Tobias Hohmann: Norris, p. 271.