Solomon Kane

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  • Directed By: M.J. Bassett
  • Written By: M.J. Bassett
  • Release Date: July 16, 2013 (video premiere)
  • Domestic Distributor: Radius (The Weinstein Co.)
  • Cast: James Purefoy, Max Von Sydow, Ian Whyte

Box Office Info:
Budget: $40 million Financed by: Lionsgate
Domestic Gross: $0 Overseas Gross: $19,631,320

solomon kane film
In 1997, the publisher Wandering Star optioned the rights to many of the works of writer Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian) and then spent nearly a decade trying to mount a Solomon Kane production.  The project was formally announced in October 2002 with New Line handling financing and distribution duties and Don Murphy (Natural Born Killers, From Hell) set as producer.  By mid 2003, the project was dead at the mini-major.  As development was moving along and contracts were toward the end of negotiations, Murphy said all the progress was “BLOWN up by the Berrows [owners of Wandering Star] – over nothing. I was confused. New Line was confused.”  Murphy ditched the picture and in May 2003, Wandering Star partnered with French producer Samuel Hadida to independently finance Solomon Kane.

Hadida’s company Davis-Films would equally co-finance the picture with Wandering Star and they announced the independent movie would sport a very ambitious $55M price tag.  The project began active development three years later, when it was announced at Comic-Con in 2006 that M.J. Bassett would write and direct the picture.  The newly formed sales outfit Essential Entertainment was tapped to handle global pre-sales and the project did not land a US distributor before production began.  It went before the cameras in January 2008 and to keep costs down, filming mostly took place in the Czech Republic, which also returned a hefty production rebate.  The net budget for Solomon Kane was reported at $40 million.

Solomon Kane was designed by the producers as an origin story for the character and they had announced the movie as the first installment of a trilogy — but stateside distribution problems and atrocious international box office numbers killed off this would-be franchise.  The financiers had set up a buyers screening at Cannes in 2009 but it left without US distribution.  To drum up fanboy hype, some footage was brought to Comic-Con a few months after Cannes, but there was low awareness of the character and interest in this property was minimal.  The producers set up another market screening at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and they had announced that the picture was recut for buyers, but once again it was passed over for distribution.

The international theatrical run began in December 2009 and Solomon Kane tanked in market after market.  The offshore release cumed $19.6M across numerous distributors.  After the failed overseas release, the financiers had pinned their hope on a wide stateside theatrical release on the prospect that the upcoming remake of Conan the Barbarian (2011) would be a massive hit.  If Conan hit it big at the box office, Solomon Kane could potentially piggyback off of the success of that Robert E. Howard character, but Conan ended as one of the biggest box office disasters.

Four years after production was completed, Solomon Kane finally landed US distribution from The Weinstein Co., who released the movie through their label Radius, which primarily handled Video On Demand titles.  It premiered on home video on July 16, 2012.  M.J. Bassett had collaborated with Davis-Films on another project Silent Hill: Revelation (2012), which was released theatrically in October to mediocre business.  This was the first and last time Wandering Star financed a movie.

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