The Cannon Group Inc. was a movie production company that made low-budget movies for more than 25 years. This is actually quite impressive considering that almost all of them sucked.
In 1967, Dennis Friedland and Chris Dewey started producing movies and formed the production company The Cannon Group Inc. Since they had no experience in movie-making, they decided to take the easy way out and started producing movies where soft-core porn filled in for lack of a story. They however made one movie actually considered good, the Oscar nominated Joe.
Against all odds, people (read: men) eventually lost some interest in seeing only boobs for 90 minutes. Since Cannon still chose to produce movies like Cheerleaders Beach Party and numerous sequels to The Happy Hooker, Firedland and Dewey were eventually forced to sell.
Gods amongst men.
In 1980, cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus bought the company for $500,000, about the budget of a normal Cannon movie. They started buying the worst scripts money could get them and put them into production. Strangely, this is considered to be the "golden age" of Cannon Pictures. It is also the age when Cannon Pictures had no less the three of the 5 Movie Martial Artists That Lost a Deathmatch to Dignity under contract.
Action movies: In the 80s, Cannon changed their MO from boobs to action movies and signed up action stars Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris who became poster boys for Cannon Pictures. Over a period of seven years, they made eight movies with Bronson and seven movies starring Chuck Norris. Michael Dudikoff and a young Jean Claude Van Damme also lurked around and made some movies for them. For unknown reasons, Sylvester Stallone decided to take a break from making successful action/boxing movies to make, well, movies for Cannon Pictures. The result was two movies, a set of action figures, a Hungarian comic book and nine Razzie Award nominations. For more on Stallone's Cannon movies check out: The 7 Stalloneyest Moments of Stallone's Film Career.
Movies actually considered being good: Even a broken watch is right at least two times a day, and Cannon Pictures was no exception. After 14 years without any critical acclaim, Cannon Pictures decided that enough was enough, and that they had it with those motherfucking sna- just forget that last part. So in 1984, they produced John Cassavetes Love Streams. In '85, they made Runaway Train which grabbed several Oscar nominations. The year after, their Dutch movie De Aanslag won the Best Foreign Picture Oscar. Finally, in '87, they released Barfly and subsequently went back to making only crap.
Comic Book Movies: In 1987, Cannon Pictures decided that to make movies based on comic books would be a good idea. For anybody else that might have been the case. (Joel Scumacher not included).
They used every dime they had on purchasing the rights to Superman and Masters of the Universe, and made Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Masters of the Universe. They also planned to make a Spider-Man movie starring Bob Hoskins as Doc Ock, Stan Lee as J. Jonah Jameson, Dolph Lundgren as Green Goblin and some guy named Scott Leva as Spider-Man. Fortunately, their other comic book movies failed miserably and it was scrapped.
For more on Cannon Pictures comic book movies check out: 8 (Pointless) Laws All Comic Book Movies Follow
Sequels: Movies that make a lot of money often get numerous sequels that also make a lot of money. The Cannon Group wanted in on this, but unfortunately none of their movies ever made ridiculous amounts of money, at least not ridiculously large. This was, of course, not an impossible obstacle for Golan and Globus. They bought the sequel rights to several movies produced by other companies. This gave the world sequels like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Exterminator 2, Superman IV and several others.
Michael Dudikoff Presents: In the late 80s, Cannon Pictures started a series where Michael Dudikoff would present a European action movie. Because, when choosing what movie to watch, who wouldn't listen to washed up martial arts movie hero Michael Dudikoff?
When Golan left, the quality of Cannon Pictures movies actually managed to get worse. The budgets got even smaller, and the stories more terrible. They still managed to give the world another three Chuck Norris movies and financed the first season of his television series.
They also managed to give us five Michael Dudikoff movies including one, of two, new American Ninja sequels. Sometime between finishing the production the Jeff Speakman--we don't know who that is either--action vehicle Street Knight and releasing American Cyborg: Steel Warrior, The Cannon Group Inc. went bankrupt.