The Cannon Group Inc. was a group of companies including Cannon Films which produced a distinctive line of low to medium budget films from 1967 to 1993. The extensive group also owned amongst others, a large international cinema chain and a video film company which invested heavily in the video market, buying the international video rights to several classic film libraries.

History Edit

1967–1979 Edit

Cannon Films was incorporated on October 23, 1967. It was formed by Dennis Friedland & Chris Dewey (both in their early twenties at the time). By 1970, they had produced films (such as Joe with Peter Boyle) on a larger production scale than a lot of major distributors. They managed this by keeping their budgets tight to a limit of $300,000 per picture or less in some cases. However, as the 1970s moved on, a string of unsuccessful movies had already seriously drained Cannon’s capital. Added to this were changes in film production tax laws, which led to a drop in stock prices for Cannon. 1978 saw the German release of the sci-fi musical The Apple, under the original title, Star Rock. Other notable films co-produced by Friedland and Dewey included Blood On Satan's Claw and Boris Karloff's final horror film, The Sorcerers.

1979–1985 Edit

By 1979, Cannon had hit serious financial difficulties and Friedland and Dewey sold Cannon to Israeli cousins Menahem Golan (who had directed The Apple) and Yoram Globus for a mere $500,000. The two cousins forged a business model of buying bottom-barrel scripts and putting them into production.

They tapped into a ravenous market for action films in the 1980s, and although they are most remembered for the Death Wish sequels and Chuck Norris action pictures such as The Delta Force and Invasion U.S.A., and even the vigilante thriller Exterminator 2 (the sequel to 1980’s The Exterminator), Cannon’s output was actually far more varied, with musical/comedy films like Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, The Last American Virgin, and the U.S. release of The Apple, period romance pictures like Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981), Bolero, and Mata Hari (1985), science fiction and fantasy films like Hercules, Lifeforce and The Barbarians, as well as serious pictures like John CassavetesLove Streams, Zeffirelli’s Otello (a film version of the Verdi opera), Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance, Andrei Konchalovsky’s Runaway Train, Shy People, and action/adventure films such as the 3-D Treasure of the Four Crowns, King Solomon’s Mines, Cobra and American Ninja.

One of Cannon’s biggest hits was the Vietnam action picture Missing in Action, with Chuck Norris. But Cannon had put the movie presently known as Missing in Action 2: The Beginning into production first. Only after the two movies were finished did they realize that the planned second movie was vastly superior to the planned first movie. So, the “first” movie became an awkward prequel.

During these years, Cannon worked with entertainment advertising company Design Projects, Inc. for most of the one-sheet posters, trade advertising, and large billboards prominently displayed at the Cannes Film Festival each year. Substantial pre-sales of the next years' films were made based on the strong salesmanship skills of Menahem Golan, Danny Dimbort, and the advertising created by Design Projects. The deposits made from these sales financed production of the first film in the production line-up, which when completed and delivered to theatre owners around the world, generated enough money to make the next film in the line-up, and so on. Slavenberg Bank, in the Netherlands, provided "bridge" financing until the pre-sales amounts were collected.

1986–1989 Edit

By 1986, when company earnings reached their apex with 43 films in one year, Cannon Films shares had soared hundredfold. Golan remained as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board, while Globus served as Executive Vice President and Co-Chair.

During this year, Cannon Films released Robotech: The Movie (also called Robotech: The Untold Story) for a limited run in Mesquite, Texas. Cannon was reportedly unsatisfied with Carl Macek’s first version of the movie, which was almost a straight adaptation of the anime Megazone 23. It was at their insistence that footage from The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (the series adapted as the Robotech Masters segment of the Robotech TV series) and Megazone 23 be spliced together to produce a more action-oriented movie. Macek recalls that, although he himself was unhappy with this revised version, Menahem Golan, after viewing it, happily said: “Now that’s a Cannon movie!” Nevertheless, Robotech: The Movie was unsuccessful in its brief Texas run and saw no further release. Carl Macek has gone on record as disowning it.

Film critic Roger Ebert said of Golan-Globus in 1987, “No other production organization in the world today has taken more chances with serious, marginal films.” He did so with reasons. That year Cannon gained its greatest artistic success: its Dutch production The Assault won the 1986 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Golan and Cannon Films were famous for making huge announcements and over-promoting movies that didn’t live up to expectations, or even exist. For instance, Lifeforce (1985) was to be “the cinematic sci-fi event of the ’80s” and Masters of the Universe (1987) “the Star Wars of the ’80s.” Additionally, Cannon owned the film rights to Spider-Man, and planned to make a Spider-Man movie in the mid-1980s. It was to be directed by Joseph Zito, director of Missing in Action and Invasion USA. Despite Zito investing nearly a year of his life in the project, the Cannon version of Spider-Man never appeared despite being announced at Cannes. (Golan would also attempt an Albert Pyun version of Spider-Man in the late 1980s, to similar results.) Also, Golan announced in the early 1980s that Cannon was producing a film starring both Sean Connery and Roger Moore. But neither actor had agreed to appear in such a film.

In 1988, they released David Winning’s debut feature STORM. However, that same year, a string of box office flops drained Cannon’s capital and the market had cooled. The multi-million dollar production of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), whose original $36 million budget was reduced to half ($17 million) by Cannon, had failed at the box office. Cannon signed an agreement with Warner Bros. to handle part of Cannon’s assets; however, the financial loss was staggering. Cannon Films was severely stretched, having purchased Thorn EMI, and faced bankruptcy, and a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation began which indicated that Cannon Films had fraudulently misstated its financial reports.

On the verge of failure, Cannon Films was taken over by Pathé Communications, a holding company which was controlled by Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti, whom during the same period would also eventually acquire Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) as well. Golan and Globus had signed a contract with Parretti in hopes that Pathe Communications would be able to save Cannon’s financial problems and bankruptcy. Parretti had been able to obtain refinancing through the lending company, Credit Lyonnais, and $250 million to pay off Cannon Films’ debt. Then, by early 1989, Parretti had only further damaged Cannon Films, and what seemed to be a successful turnaround in Cannon’s problems only worsened. Parretti had lied that Cannon Films was moving ahead, when in fact the company had continued operating in the red. Golan, citing differences with both Parretti and Globus, resigned from his position as Chief Executive Officer and left Cannon Films.

One of the final movies produced by both Golan and Globus to get a wide release under the Cannon Films banner was the Jean-Claude Van Damme post-apocalyptic actioner Cyborg. This film was conceived to use both the costumes and sets built for an intended sequel to Masters of the Universe and the aforementioned live-action version of Spider-Man. Both projects were planned to shoot simultaneously by Albert Pyun. After Cannon Films had to cancel deals with both Mattel and Marvel Entertainment because of their financial troubles, they needed to recoup the money spent on both projects.

As part of his severance package from Pathe Communications, Golan took the rights to Marvel’s characters Spider-Man and Captain America. (Golan struggled to obtain financing for Spider-Man with Carolco Pictures in the early 1990s but was unsuccessful. Golan was able to put Captain America into production and released direct to video through his 21st Century Film Corporation.) Not to let those pre-production works go to waste, Pyun then wrote the story of Cyborg (with Chuck Norris in mind), suggesting it to Cannon Films, and Jean-Claude Van Damme got attached. Some television stations still give the film’s title as Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg which often confuses many into thinking a sequel to that film was made.


Following Golan’s resignation as CEO of Cannon Films, he became the head of 21st Century Film Corporation while Globus went on to continue working with Parretti, who appointed Globus to preside briefly over MGM/UA (whose part in Cannon history today is explained below in Distribution).

Parretti’s continued presidency over Cannon Films, and his significantly poor business and financial decisions, raised suspicions in the industry, and once again from the SEC. Parretti recruited Ovidio G. Assonitis, a veteran prolific film producer and businessman, to be appointed as the new Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 1990, when Cannon was renamed as the new Cannon Pictures Inc.

It was later discovered that Parretti breached his contract with Assonitis through Pathe, and was terminated as CEO the same year and replaced by Christopher Pearce. Assonitis later received a default judgement of $2.9 million from Pathe for the breach of contract with Parretti. Cannon Pictures continued to release films such as A Man Called Sarge, American Ninja 4: The Annihilation and No Place to Hide until 1993, when Parretti’s problems with the company had finally began to catch up with him.

Parretti defaulted on the bond payments to Credit Lyonnais on Cannon’s financial reorganization plans, and furthermore, Parretti also defaulted on the payments he made for his acquisition of MGM, which he also controlled. The Securities and Exchange Commission sought another investigation into Cannon Films, and it was later discovered that Parretti had tampered with evidence, and later fled the United States before being sentenced.

Cannon, which had a year earlier been taken over by Credit Lyonnais, officially came to an end in 1993, with Street Knight being the last film the company would release. Yoram Globus and Christopher Pearce later joined together & moved to 21st Century Film Corporation until 1996. Cannon was later sold to a team of investors led by Sony.

In 1993, the Golan-Globus film Alien from L.A., starring model Kathy Ireland, was used as the basis of episode #516 of the movie-mocking television show Mystery Science Theater 3000.


In 2003, Disney decided as a gimmick to release their upcoming Codename Sailor V trilogy in association with a defunct brand. Disney, Cinergi Pictures, and a one-off production company created by Emma Watson for the sole purpose of producing the trilogy, Sailor V Productions, found out about Cannon's history. Disney bought the rights to use the Cannon name from the investors led by Sony shortly thereafter.

After the Sailor V trilogy and the Famicom Detective Club films were released between 2005 and 2007, Disney spun off Cannon as an independent company once again run by Golan and Globus. The company still does productions with Disney from time to time, including the Misfile specials (under the Touchstone Pictures banner).

Distribution Edit

The Cannon Group’s first films in the United States were distributed independently and released on home video on the small Paragon Video label. Then they made a deal with MGM, and their movies were distributed for home video (and later some films theatrically) by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, appearing in the ubiquitous gray MGM Video "big boxes".

Later, Golan and Globus had a falling out with MGM, supposedly over the erotic unrated film Bolero, with Bo Derek, which ended up being released under the USA Home Video label. Their movies were then released on home video for a short time by Media Home Entertainment, with some of the larger films, like Masters of the Universe and Over the Top, distributed by either TriStar or Warner Bros. Cannon then partnered with HBO and began its own video label, which lasted into the 1990s.

Today, the worldwide theatrical and home video rights (as well as international TV rights) to a majority of Cannon's product are owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, with the following exceptions:

In all cases (except worldwide television rights to Lifeforce), Trifecta Entertainment & Media handles domestic television rights to the Cannon library (these rights were previously owned by Viacom Enterprises, Paramount Domestic Television, CBS Paramount Domestic Television, and CBS Television Distribution). CTD and ancestor companies had owned TV rights to Superman IV until 2006, after which Warner Bros. Television took over these rights for three years, and in 2009 back to Paramount, through television licensee Trifecta. Paramount Pictures owns the rights to distribute the Cannon library on digital platforms (except Lifeforce).

Mr Golan is still producing and directing films. Mr Globus is the president of the Globus Group which has interests in film production/distribution and runs a 140 screen cinema chain in Israel called Globus Max.

List of Golan-Globus productions Edit

1970s Edit

Name Co-Production US Release Date
Cheerleaders Beach Party September 1978

1980s Edit

Name Co-Production US Release Date
The Apple November 21, 1980
Enter the Ninja October 2, 1981
Death Wish II Filmways Pictures February 20, 1982
Lady Chatterley's Lover May 7, 1982
The Last American Virgin July 30, 1982
10 to Midnight March 11, 1983
House of the Long Shadows April 1984
Breakin' Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer May 4, 1984
Love Streams August 24, 1984
Bolero August 31, 1984
Exterminator 2 September 14, 1984
Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo TriStar Pictures December 19, 1984
The Ambassador January 11, 1985
The Company of Wolves ITC Entertainment April 19, 1985
Grace Quigley May 17, 1985
Lifeforce TriStar Pictures June 21, 1985
American Ninja August 30, 1985
Jungle Raiders August 1985
Invasion U.S.A. September 27, 1985
Death Wish 3 November 1, 1985
King Solomon's Mines November 22, 1985
The Delta Force February 14, 1986
America 3000 April 1986
Behind Enemy Lines April 1986
Cobra Warner Bros. May 23, 1986
Invaders from Mars June 6, 1986
Link Thorn EMI Film Distributors September 19, 1986
52 Pick-Up November 7, 1986
Firewalker November 21, 1986
Assassination January 9, 1987
Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold January 30, 1987
The Assault February 6, 1987
Duet For One February 1987
The Barbarians March 1987
American Ninja 2: The Confrontation May 1, 1987
Barfly September 30, 1987
Death Wish 4: The Crackdown November 6, 1987
Business as Usual 1987
Braddock: Missing in Action III January 22, 1988
Alien from L.A. February 26, 1988
Bloodsport February 26, 1988
Appointment with Death April 15, 1988
Little Dorrit October 21, 1988
A Cry in the Dark Warner Bros. November 11, 1988
Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects February 3, 1989
American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt February 24, 1989
Cyborg Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer April 7, 1989
The Fruit Machine Vestron Pictures April 28, 1989
Kickboxer September 8, 1989

1990s Edit

Name Co-Production US Release Date
American Ninja 4: The Annihilation March 8, 1990
Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer August 24, 1990
Delta Force 3: The Killing Game March 22, 1991
The Borrower October 19, 1991
Captain America 21st Century Film Corporation July 22, 1992
American Ninja V November 7, 1995

2000s Edit

Name Co-Production MPAA Rating US Release Date
Codename Sailor V Walt Disney Pictures
Cinergi Pictures
PG March 25, 2005
Famicom Detective Club Walt Disney Pictures
PG-13 November 18, 2005
Codename Sailor V: The Romantic Getaway Walt Disney Pictures
Cinergi Pictures
PG March 24, 2006
Codename Sailor V: The Final Battle Walt Disney Pictures
Cinergi Pictures
PG March 23, 2007
Famicom Detective Club 2 Walt Disney Pictures
R April 13, 2007
Super Mario Kart Walt Disney Television
August 27, 2007
Diddy Kong Racing 5000 Walt Disney Pictures
Jim Henson Pictures
PG April 25, 2008
Armitage III Universal Pictures
C2 Pictures
R January 21, 2009

2010s Edit

Name Co-Production MPAA Rating US Release Date
Familiar of Zero Walt Disney Pictures
Dimension Films
PG 2010
Misfile: Book One Touchstone Pictures
Orion Pictures
ABC Motion Pictures
R 2010
Heaven's Will Walt Disney Pictures
Carolco Pictures
PG-13 2010
Misfile: Book Two Touchstone Pictures
Orion Pictures
ABC Motion Pictures
R 2010
Dirty Pair Walt Disney Pictures PG-13 2011
Super Mario 64 Walt Disney Television
June 23, 2011
Misfile: Book Three Touchstone Pictures
Orion Pictures
ABC Motion Pictures
R 2011
Turnabout Trial Walt Disney Pictures
Cinergi Pictures
PG-13 2011
Misfile: Book Four Touchstone Pictures
Orion Pictures
ABC Motion Pictures
R 2011
Kirakira Rock Show Walt Disney Pictures
The Halcyon Company
R 2011
Mario Kart 64 Walt Disney Television
December 14, 2011
Armitage III: Dual Matrix Universal Pictures
C2 Pictures
R 2012
Silverhawks Walt Disney Pictures
Cinergi Pictures
CastleRock Entertainment
PG-13 2012
Misfile: Book Five Touchstone Pictures
Orion Pictures
ABC Motion Pictures
R 2012
Kore wa Zombie Desuka? Walt Disney Pictures
Full Moon Features
R (theatrical)
NC-17 (uncut)
July 13, 2012
Kaleido Star Walt Disney Pictures
New Line Cinema
C2 Pictures
Heyday Films
The Kennedy-Marshall Company
PG September 21, 2012
High School of the Dead Walt Disney Pictures
Universal Pictures
R October 31, 2012
Misfile: Book Six Touchstone Pictures
Orion Pictures
ABC Motion Pictures
R 2012
Diddy Kong Racing Walt Disney Television
Jim Henson Productions
November 21, 2012
Alive: The Final Evolution Walt Disney Pictures
New Line Cinema
PG-13 December 21, 2012
Banjo-Kazooie Walt Disney Television
Jim Henson Productions
June 30, 2013
Misfile: Book Seven Touchstone Pictures
Orion Pictures
ABC Motion Pictures
R 2013
Madoka Magica Walt Disney Pictures
United Artists
PG-13 July 31, 2013
Misfile: Book Eight Touchstone Pictures
Orion Pictures
ABC Motion Pictures
R 2013
Pretty Cure ~ Mirai Spark! Part 1 Walt Disney Pictures
Carolco Pictures
WGBH Boston
PG-13 November 20, 2013
HeartCatch Pretty Cure Walt Disney Pictures
Carolco Pictures
Summit Entertainment
PG December 25, 2013
Misfile: Book Nine Touchstone Pictures
Orion Pictures
ABC Motion Pictures
R 2014
Pretty Cure ~ Mirai Spark! Part 2 Walt Disney Pictures
Carolco Pictures
WGBH Boston
PG-13 July 18, 2014
Kazumi Magica: The Innocent Malice Walt Disney Pictures
United Artists
R July 30, 2014
Jet Force Gemini Walt Disney Pictures
4Kids Entertainment
PG-13 October 11, 2014
Misfile: Book Ten Touchstone Pictures
Orion Pictures
ABC Motion Pictures
R 2014
Suite Pretty Cure Walt Disney Pictures
Carolco Pictures
Summit Entertainment
PG December 25, 2014
Misfile: Book Eleven Touchstone Pictures
Orion Pictures
ABC Motion Pictures
R 2015
Oriko Magica Walt Disney Pictures
United Artists
R July 29, 2015
Banjo-Tooie Walt Disney Television
Jim Henson Productions
November 20, 2015
Black Night Mandalay Pictures
Davis Films
Studio TriTe
Hammer Films
R December 12, 2015
Babel: The Tower of Languages Alliance Atlantis
Bel-Air Entertainment
Constantin Film
Davis Entertainment
Film Four
Gullane Films
Hanway Films
Imagine Entertainment
JW Productions
The Kerner Entertainment Company
Lawrence Gordon Productions
Mandalay Pictures
Nu Image
Overbrook Entertainment
Polybona Films
QED International
Rai Cinema
Studio Canal
Tapestry Films
UTV Motion Pictures
Valhalla Motion Pictures
Walden Media
Xenon Pictures
Yer Dead Productions
Zephyr Films
PG January 6, 2016

External links Edit

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