New doc digs into iconic film company
Ametallic, gleaming hexagon, you’ll probably recognise the logo for Cannon Films. You’ll certainly know some of their movies – everything from Superman IV to Masters Of The Universe. And yet that is just the tip of the trash- berg for a company that made stars of everyone from Chuck Norris to Morgan Freeman.
“People said you were either in a Cannon Film on the way up or the way down,” laughs Mark Hartley, director of new documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story Of Cannon Films. It follows Cannon during the period it was owned by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, Israeli cousins with big ambitions in the film industry.
While they’ve been dubbed forerunners of Harvey and Bob Weinstein, when it came to making films like Lifeforce and Ninja III: The Domination, Golan and Globus were never so bothered by quality control. “[ Italian director] Luigi Cozzi told me the secretaries wrote the scripts!” grins Hartley.
Still, they managed the occasional classic – as with Andrei Konchalovsky’s triple- Oscar nominated Runaway Train, which, according to Hartley, is “Cannon’s best film” – while their plans for Hollywood domination were ahead of the curve. “Cannon had the Spider- Man rights. They had the Captain America rights,” Hartley notes. “But superhero movies were considered stuff of TV…”
It was only when they tried to extend themselves that it all came crashing down. “When I started working on it,” says Hartley, “I thought the film would be a more inspirational David versus Goliath story. Ultimately, it became much more of a cautionary tale.”
While the company clearly blazed a trail, now companies like Millennium are making Cannon- like movies, such as The Expendables franchise. “Half the cast are people from Cannon Films,” says Hartley. Other protégés include producers David Womark ( Life Of Pi) and Pieter Jan Brugge ( Heat) – and Hartley reckons it’s about time Cannon got its due. “Cinema would be a lesser place without them.”
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story Of Cannon Films opens 5 June.
Not quite the classic He- Man film we were waiting for.