Every week, “Charts & Graphs” looks past the weekend box-office numbers to examine other lists of movies that are popular right now, as assessed by the likes of iTunes, Amazon, Box Office Mojo, and other services.
Given that so many other high-profile filmmakers died recently, it’s easy to forget that we lost Menahem Golan last weekend. So I thought it would be nice here on Friday to pay tribute to Golan by taking a look at the films that partly defined his legacy: those produced by The Cannon Group during the 1980s, when Golan and his cousin Yoram Globus were in charge of the company. Golan and Globus didn’t found The Cannon Group, but they made movies released by Cannon in the 1970s, and then bought into the business in 1979. During the Golan and Globus era, Cannon thrived for nearly a decade by cranking out low-budget exploitation pictures and marketing them like blockbusters. For a better idea of the kind of the kinds of movies I mean, take a look at the list below, taken from Box Office Mojo, of Cannon’s 25 top-grossing films of all time.
1. Breakin’ (1984), $38,682,707
2. Missing In Action (1984), $22,812,411
3. Joe (1970), $19,319,254
4. The Delta Force (1986), $17,768,900
5. Invasion U.S.A. (1985), $17,536,256
6. Masters Of The Universe (1987), $17,336,370
7. Death Wish 3 (1985), $16,116,878
8. King Solomon’s Mines (1985), $15,057,465
9. Kickboxer (1989), $14,697,005
10. Firewalker (1986), $11,949,484
11. Bloodsport (1988), $11,806,119
12. Missing In Action II: The Beginning (1985), $10,755,447
13. American Ninja (1985), $10,499,694
14. Cyborg (1989), $10,166,459
15. Murphy’s Law (1986), $9,947,631
16. Bolero (1984), $8,914,881
17. Salsa: The Motion Picture (1988), $8,892,589
18. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), $8,025,872
19. Runaway Train (1984), $7,683,620
20. Ninja 3: The Domination (1984), $7,610,785
21. Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987), $6,880,310
22. Braddock: Missing In Action III (1988), $6,193,901
23. Assassination (1987), $6,075,793
24. The Last American Virgin (1982), $5,829,781
25. Hero And The Terror (1988), $5,301,200
A few notes:
- The outlier in the group above is Joe, which is the lone Cannon film here produced before Golan and Globus took the helm. The Cannon Group was a minor player in Hollywood in the 1960s and 1970s, but the success of the ironic revenge thriller Joe (with Peter Boyle playing a right-winger who takes his anger out on hippies) carried Cannon for a good long while.
- I went all the way down to 25 because I wanted to include what may be my favorite Cannon film: the sucker-punch teen comedy The Last American Virgin, which is one every fan of 1980s sexploitation should see, if only for one of the most jaw-dropping endings of the Porky’s era.
- As this list should indicate, Cannon made most of its money in the 1980s on explosive action pictures anchored by the likes of Chuck Norris, and trend-chasing musical melodramas like Breakin’ and Salsa. I would like to have seen a crossover film where Norris learns to do the Lambada.
- So what’s the best film from Cannon’s top 25? I’ve already thrown my support behind The Last American Virgin, but if not that, then Runaway Train. What say you all?