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Richard Albiston Talks Cannon Films, Ninjas and ‘Delta Force’

Children of the 80s will no doubt remember the Cannon Group for their fearless and at times unbelievably cheesy and entertaining movies. Recently the former production company has seen an increase in popularity due to newly produced documentaries that shine a spotlight on a legacy of rogue filmmaking. Without Cannon, there would be no American Ninja series, there would be no Superman IV and there definitely would be no Chuck Norris as we know him today. Cannon was a revolution, and now one of the protégés of the great Menahem Golan has let us know that a new phase of Cannon has begun. Richard Albiston told us all about Cannon Films as it is today, and here’s what the man had to say about it.

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Fandom: Why should we be excited about the launch of Cannon Films?

Richard Albiston: Well, I think everyone should be excited about any new film company that comes along because it has the opportunity to do things that are a little different to what you would get from the major players in Hollywood and around the world. There are some pretty big film companies around the world that aren’t American and maybe would do things with a different flavor, but really they don’t take chances with certain types of material.

A great example at the moment is Deadpool because if we were going back even five years, Hollywood would not be releasing a R-rated superhero movie in their wildest dreams. They would say, “It would not make money. It would not do this, it would not do that.” It takes a very select group of people with a long track record of box office successes to have the influence to force a studio’s hand in doing those kind of things.

Some people who maybe have a great idea to begin with who can’t get the attention of the major studios, would maybe have an opportunity to do their vision their way. This is exactly what we want to do at Cannon Films. Our motto is “Artists United” which is kind of a play on United Artists because it set up by actors who did not want to be part of the studio system. That is what Menahem Golan believed in. He always believed in giving the artist freedom to work and create their vision their way.

He did many films without the constraints of Hollywood and overbearing producers in Israel because he was a producer with Yoram Globus within the industry. He would do what they felt was right and there was no one to put pressure on them. They translated that to. America and they started making movies like Barfly and Love Streams with John Cassavetes where they basically said, “Here is your budget, we like your script. Go and make it.” That would be the limit of their interference.

Why people should be excited, is because we hope to offer that kind of freedom to both established artists who maybe do have a track record, but still maybe that’s not enough for some bigger companies. What if there’s that one person out there that has the potential for a real special movie who can’t get a chance. That’s what we’re really trying to do.

People are saying that this is a relaunch of the Cannon Group. It isn’t. What we want to do is to keep the ideals of Menahem Golan alive. What he believed in doing was what inspired many people in this industry, including myself. The idea of collaboration in a new way is what we’re hoping to offer with this new company.

Fandom: What kind of new films can we look forward to?

Richard Albiston: Things like Return of the Delta Force and American Ninja Apprentice. They sound like sequels, and that was kind of the thinking behind the titles really, but they aren’t sequels. They are not related in any way to the previous installments. The ideas were really Menahem’s ideas that he had about where we could go with these kinds of stories. The ninja thing and Delta Force were popular in the 80s when no one had heard of these things before.

Our thinking behind American Ninja Apprentice was to kind of say, “OK, this genre has been around for a while. How can reboot it and revitalize it for a 21st century audience? Let’s make this fresh original content with the kind of genres people love.” That’s exactly what we’re trying to do with these movies. I want everyone who has seen American Ninja and its sequels to go into American Ninja Apprentice wanting to see ninjas again, but not with the same tired formulaic story. We’re kind of saying, “It’s 2016, how can we make this fresh and interesting.” With everything we do, it’s kind of redefining what we want to do while keeping Menahem’s sensibility about making movies and entertaining the audience. That’s what we’re doing. Everyone has a place in their heart for these movies.

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