21st Century Film Corp.

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database



21st Century Film Corporation was a theatrical distribution company headed by Tom Ward and Art Schweitzer that specialized in cheap horror movies and imported kung fu flicks for the urban action market. They favored painted poster art and grindhouse-style trailers that were frequently narrated by Adolph Caesar. [1]

In the late 1980s, while filing for bankruptcy, it was purchased by Giancarlo Parretti. Pathé had also recently purchased The Cannon Group, which was renamed Pathé Communications, and he eventually handed 21st Century Film Corporation and Spider-Man and Captain America film rights (held by Cannon) over to Israeli filmmaker Menahem Golan as part of Golan's severance package from Cannon.[2][3]

Golan's goal was to release high-quality motion pictures to the American and worldwide film audiences, but 21st Century only enjoyed small-scale success releasing low-budget films like Bullseye!, art-house films like Eraserhead, as well as remakes of The Phantom of the Opera and Night of the Living Dead.

In April 1989, Twenty-first Century Film and Pathé Communications ended their film production contract. As part of the termination, 21st Century Film received rights to two feature-length movies: the completed Mack the Knife, in production Phantom of the Opera plus other projects and scripts rights. While Pathé would no longer have any financial obligations to 21st Century.[4]

Captain America was filmed and was given only a limited theatrical release worldwide.

Looking for funding for the Spider-Man film was difficult; 21st Century sold the film's TV rights to Viacom, the home-video rights to Columbia and theatrical rights to Carolco. In 1993, Golan triggered a series of lawsuits for 21st Century over Spider-Man as he feared being pushed out. Bankruptcy followed within the year for the company. In 1995, the judge ruled that the Spider-Man film rights expired and reverted to Marvel.[2] Meanwhile, all of 21st Century's film library and assets were acquired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (which had merged with Pathé/Cannon earlier and was a theatrical distributor of Carolco's films at the time), mostly due to a quitclaim deed by Carolco.[5]

In 1993, it released a few more movies including Deadly Heroes and most notably Death Wish V: The Face of Death, the last in the series and Charles Bronson's final theatrical film.

Currently, the majority of 21st Century Film Corporation's film catalog is owned by MGM Studios, with the exception of Night of the Living Dead and The Forbidden Dance, both which were distributed by Columbia Pictures and are currently owned by parent company Sony Pictures.


  1. Temple of Schlock, MARCH 21, 2011
  2. Galarza, Pablo (July 6, 1992). "Thank you, Joe Stalin". Forbes. Archived from the original on December 24, 2014. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
  3. Grover, Ronald (April 15, 2002). "Unraveling Spider-Man's Tangled Web". Business Week. Retrieved January 22, 2007.
  4. Schmuckler, Eric (June 25, 1990). "Golan's latest gig". Forbes. Archived from the original on December 24, 2014. Retrieved December 24, 2014 – via Highbeam.
  5. "P. M. BRIEFING : 21st Century Film, Pathe to End Pact". Los Angeles Times. Times wire services. April 14, 1989. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
  6. Macek III, J.C. (9 June 2014). "The Rise Fall and Rise of Marvel Comics on Film Part 2: The Road Out of Development Hell". PopMatters. Retrieved 29 March 2015.

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