Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992)

PG-13 | 121 mins | Adventure, Biography, Drama | 22 August 1992

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HISTORY

A 3 Jun 1989 Screen International piece stated that the Spanish government was supplying replicas of Christopher Columbus’s three ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria at the cost of $1 million for a film production by Alexander and Iyla Salkind. Three weeks later, a 28 Jun 1991 Screen International news item reported that the Quinto Centenario, a Spainish governmental body in charge of organizing celebrations for the 500 year anniversary of Columbus's “discovery” of the “New World," had agreed to give $1 million to both Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, and a rival Columbus film, 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992, see entry).
       On 8 Nov 1991, Screen International reported that director George P. Cosmatos left the production due to “creative differences,” causing the film’s lead, actor Timothy Dalton, to follow suit. At that time, it was rumored that actor William Dafoe would be cast as “Christopher Columbus,” but the role went to George Corraface.
       The 26 Aug 1991 DV announced that Lenny Hirshfield, an “ocean voyage director,” had begun pickup shots in Spain on 24 Aug 1991. However, his name does not appear in the credits and Arthur Wooster is listed as the director of the ocean voyage unit.
       An 8 Oct 1991 HR production chart reported that principal photography began again on 15 Sep 1991. However, a 12 Nov 1991 HR listed a start date of 25 Nov 1991, with locations in Spain, Malta, and the Caribbean.
       During production, Irving Auguiste, chief of the Carib ... More Less

A 3 Jun 1989 Screen International piece stated that the Spanish government was supplying replicas of Christopher Columbus’s three ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria at the cost of $1 million for a film production by Alexander and Iyla Salkind. Three weeks later, a 28 Jun 1991 Screen International news item reported that the Quinto Centenario, a Spainish governmental body in charge of organizing celebrations for the 500 year anniversary of Columbus's “discovery” of the “New World," had agreed to give $1 million to both Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, and a rival Columbus film, 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992, see entry).
       On 8 Nov 1991, Screen International reported that director George P. Cosmatos left the production due to “creative differences,” causing the film’s lead, actor Timothy Dalton, to follow suit. At that time, it was rumored that actor William Dafoe would be cast as “Christopher Columbus,” but the role went to George Corraface.
       The 26 Aug 1991 DV announced that Lenny Hirshfield, an “ocean voyage director,” had begun pickup shots in Spain on 24 Aug 1991. However, his name does not appear in the credits and Arthur Wooster is listed as the director of the ocean voyage unit.
       An 8 Oct 1991 HR production chart reported that principal photography began again on 15 Sep 1991. However, a 12 Nov 1991 HR listed a start date of 25 Nov 1991, with locations in Spain, Malta, and the Caribbean.
       During production, Irving Auguiste, chief of the Carib tribe, threatened to halt production when he learned that the Native American extras were earning only $27 a day, compared to the $75 Spanish extras were paid, as noted in a 21 Apr 1992 HR article.
       A 1 Jul 1991 HR brief put the film’s budget at $45 million, and an undated DV brief from AMPAS production clippings indicated that actor Marlon Brando received $5 million.
       Lawsuits and debt plagued the production. A 15 Nov 1990 LAT reported that producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind filed a suit in the U.S. District Court against director Ridley Scott, after Scott left their project to direct 1942: A Conquest of Paradise. The Salkinds contended that Scott stole their idea for a movie on Christopher Columbus and this interfered with their ability to proceed with Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. They demanded Scott return historical information he obtained while working for them, and pay $40 million in damages. An 18 Aug 1992 LAT article reported the lawsuit was dropped.
According to an 11 Sep 1991 Var , article a suit was filed against George P. Cosmatos by Sumaca Film Distribution, claiming the director failed to “unequivocally” state his intentions about continuing to work on Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, or cooperate in getting a completion bond for the film, which allegedly put the start date in jeopardy. Sumaca requested the return of the $1 million down payment Cosmatos received, $5 million for extended production costs, and $50 million for lost profits. An 18 Oct 1991 Screen International news item reported that an undisclosed settlement was reached between both parties.
       Another lawsuit was resolved on 7 May 1992 according to the 8 May 1992 DV. The Salkinds paid $160,000 to creditors from the Virgin Islands, many of whom were carpenters, set workers and hotels. The 16 Jul 1995 HR reported that the Salkinds were sued for the remainder of the outstanding balance and paid another $300,000.
       on 22 Sep 1994, HR announced that producer Ilya Sakind, along with executive producer Jane Chaplin, sued his father, Alexander Salkind, and co-producer Bob Simmonds, as well as other creditors in another lawsuit filed against Alexander Salkind for $10 million. This included $6.75 million Chaplin loaned her father-in-law, which he refused to repay, and $1.52 million for Simmonds unpaid wages. The suit claimed the elder Salkind was guilty of breach of contract, fraud, racketeering and conspiracy to defraud. A 17 May 1995 DV item reported that Alexander Salkind was ordered to pay $8.5 million by the Los Angeles Superior Court to settle the lawsuit.
       A 13 Jun 1995 HR article reported that a Maltese company, Mediterranean Film Studios, filed a suit asking for $1.4 million in unpaid fees. Alexander Salkind refused to answer a summons claiming that as a resident of Switzerland, he was not subject to California courts’ jurisdiction. However, the law firm, Christie & Berle, took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against Salkind, according to the 17 May 1995 DV.        TAn 27 Apr 1992 Var article stated that actor Marlon Brando requested his name be removed from the credits because rewrites he demanded to reflect Christopher Columbus’s direct responsibility for the genocide of Native Americans were rejected by Alexander Salkind after they were approved by Iyla Salkind. However, his name appears in the credits.
       End credits state: "With Special Thanks to: Maurice Mizzi, Lino Mintoff, and all the staff of Mediterranean Film Studios--Malta," and, "Filmed on location on the Atlantic Ocean and in Spain, Portugal, The Caribbean, and at Mediterranean Film Studios--Malta." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Aug 1991.
---
Daily Variety
21 Apr 1992.
---
Daily Variety
8 May 1992.
---
Daily Variety
17 May 1995.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Sep 1994
p. 8, 28.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 1995
Section I, p. 1, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 1995.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Nov 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Nov 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Aug 1992.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 Aug 1992
p. 1.
New York Times
22 Aug 1992
p. 11.
Screen International
3 Jun 1989.
---
Screen International
28 Jun 1991.
---
Screen International
18 Oct 1991.
---
Screen International
8 Nov 1991.
---
Variety
11 Sep 1991.
---
Variety
27 Apr 1992.
---
Variety
24 Aug 1992
p. 34.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Alexander Salkind presents
a John Glen Film
With the Collaboration of Quinto Centenario Spain
An Alexander and Ilya Salkind Producion
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
Key 2d asst dir
Key 2d asst dir
Prod mgr (Spain)
Dir--Ocean voyage unit
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog--Ocean voyage unit
Cam op
Cam op
Cam op
Focus
Focus
Loader
Stills
Stills
Chief elec
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Key grip
Dolly grip
Dolly grip
Cam op, Ocean voyage unit
Cam asst, Ocean voyage unit
Grip, Ocean voyage unit
Filmed in
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Art dept asst
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
Set dresser
Set dresser
Props
Buyer
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Ward master
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Mr. Brando's cost by
Asst cost des
Cost maker
Cost maker
Cost maker
Cost made by
Addl cost by
Addl cost by
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Religious mus adv
Mus performed by
Mus performed by
Mus dir
Mus rec by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd asst
Asst ed
Sd re-rec at Century III at Universal Studios, Flo
Sd re-rec at Century III at Universal Studios, Flo
Sd re-rec at Century III at Universal Studios, Flo
Sd re-rec at Century III at Universal Studios, Flo
Sd re-rec at Century III at Universal Studios, Flo
Sd re-rec at Century III at Universal Studios, Flo
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Main title
Spec photographic eff
Spec photographic eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
Wig maker
Hairdresser for Tom Selleck
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod exec
Historical adv
Historical adv
Spec project consultant
Casting
Quinto Centenario (Spain) delegate
Prod coord
Tall ships master
Ship builder
Ship builder
Ship builder
Scr supv
Country coord Portugal
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod secy
Asst to Ilya Salkind
Asst to John Glen
Personal asst to Mr. Brando
Asst to Mr. Brando
Asst to Tom Selleck
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Addl casting by
Addl casting by
Addl casting by
Addl casting by
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Vice president marketing & pub
Worldwide sales
Worldwide sales, Europex S.A.
Public relations
Legal advisor
Prod & consultancy services
Prod & consultancy services, Pueblo Film AG
Prod & consultancy services, Pueblo Film AG
Prod & consultancy services, Pueblo Film AG
International distribution services, Pueblo Film D
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
COLOR PERSONNEL
Orig processing and prints by
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Christopher Columbus: The Movie
Christopher Columbus: The Discovery of America
Christopher Columbus: The Film
Christopher COlumbus: The Motion Picture
Release Date:
22 August 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 21 August 1992
Production Date:
began 24 August 1991
15 September 1991 and late November 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Peel Enterprises, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
12 February 1993
Copyright Number:
PA602883
Physical Properties:
Sound
Spectral Recording Dolby Stereo® SR in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
121
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Countries:
Spain, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31900
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Genoa, Italy trader, Christopher Columbus, and his shipmate, Martin Pinzon, visit the Greek island of Chios and discover a unique world map. For the next six years, Columbus studies this map, along with others, and becomes convinced that the best way to reach China from Europe is by sailing west. When King John II of Portugal refuses to finance an expedition to explore the West Atlantic Ocean, and Columbus learns that a faction in the Portuguese court is hostile to his plan, he escapes on horseback to Spain with his young son, Diego. There, King Ferdinand II of Aragon is lukewarm to Columbus’s theories, but Queen Isabella I of Castile dreams of Christianizing China. Believing he has found a sponsor, Columbus convinces his old friend Martin Pinzon to join the venture. However, Tomás de Torquemada, first grand inquisitor of the Inquisition, insists the journey is blasphemous because St. Augustine stated that it was impossible to sail the “great sea.” When Columbus counters that the saint also inaccurately stated that Africa was too hot for humans to live, Torquemada convinces the majesties to prevent Columbus’s voyage. Years pass, and Columbus takes a job with Isaac, a Jewish map maker, who one day receives an order from the Spanish Inquisition: “Become Catholics or leave Spain.” Piznon announces that the Moors have abandoned Spain, and Isabela has decided to back Columbus’s enterprise after all, giving him the rank of Captain-General. After recruiting sailors, Columbus is forced to take on convict labor. One of the two prisoners, Roldan, is a murderer and a rapist, who has been bribed to by a Portuguese spy ... +


Genoa, Italy trader, Christopher Columbus, and his shipmate, Martin Pinzon, visit the Greek island of Chios and discover a unique world map. For the next six years, Columbus studies this map, along with others, and becomes convinced that the best way to reach China from Europe is by sailing west. When King John II of Portugal refuses to finance an expedition to explore the West Atlantic Ocean, and Columbus learns that a faction in the Portuguese court is hostile to his plan, he escapes on horseback to Spain with his young son, Diego. There, King Ferdinand II of Aragon is lukewarm to Columbus’s theories, but Queen Isabella I of Castile dreams of Christianizing China. Believing he has found a sponsor, Columbus convinces his old friend Martin Pinzon to join the venture. However, Tomás de Torquemada, first grand inquisitor of the Inquisition, insists the journey is blasphemous because St. Augustine stated that it was impossible to sail the “great sea.” When Columbus counters that the saint also inaccurately stated that Africa was too hot for humans to live, Torquemada convinces the majesties to prevent Columbus’s voyage. Years pass, and Columbus takes a job with Isaac, a Jewish map maker, who one day receives an order from the Spanish Inquisition: “Become Catholics or leave Spain.” Piznon announces that the Moors have abandoned Spain, and Isabela has decided to back Columbus’s enterprise after all, giving him the rank of Captain-General. After recruiting sailors, Columbus is forced to take on convict labor. One of the two prisoners, Roldan, is a murderer and a rapist, who has been bribed to by a Portuguese spy to sabotage the trip. Columbus takes Isaac’s son, Benjamin, as a crew member, but warns him to stay hidden during prayers, so no one will know he is Jewish. On the day of departure, Alvaro Harana, the estranged son of Columbus’s master of arms, Harana, volunteers to join the crew. Alvaro’s lover committed suicide after Harana seduced her, then refused to marry her, causing Harana to disown him, but Alvaro wishes to redeem himself. As Columbus’s ships sail west, a convoy of exiled Jews, including Isaac, sail east. Columbus navigates to the Canary Island, where he takes on more provisions. Three days later, one of the ships springs a leak and her captain declares sabotage. Convinced it was one of the convicts, Columbus orders one hanged from the yard arm and the other dragged behind the ship to instill discipline in his crew. However, Roldan survives. The next morning, Harana discovers a large hole drilled into Columbus’s ship and finds the Portuguese spy who paid Roldan with a drill. Unaware of their connection, Columbus orders the spy tied to the mast, so he will name his accomplice. One morning, Benjamin discovers the spy dead with a knife in his side, and the crew is convinced he did not act alone. One man goes insane, shredding the sails with a knife, and Columbus offers a lifetime pension to the first man who sees land. Suddenly, the western winds blow and the sailors leap to their stations. Days later, Harana claims to see landfall, but Benjamin climbs to the crow’s nest to discover that the “land” is only a cloud. The crew mutinies, and demand the ship be turned around, Columbus sees Alvaro holding a knife to his father’s neck. He meets with two captains, confesses they are much further west than he has let on, and announces they may not have enough water to reach Spain. Harana suggests a compromise, in which they will to turn back in three days, and Columbus will allow the mutineers to behead him. That night, a bolt of lightning hits the mast and electrifies it with “St. Elmo’s fire.” Columbus runs below deck to get Benjamin, and finds Roldan trying to sodomize the boy. As the crew looks on, Columbus and Roldan fight. Roldan rushes at him with a boat hook, misses and falls overboard. Although Columbus tries to pull Roldan from the water, he is ripped apart by sharks. On the fourth morning, Columbus appears on deck to be beheaded. Before the ax falls, however, a strong westerly wind blows and Harana orders the men back to their stations. Shortly after, the lookout spots land. Columbus leads his men ashore to give thanks to God, and are met by indigenous people. Pinzon observes they do not look Chinese, but Columbus insists they have discovered the islands off the coast of China. He declares the island property of Spain, and names it “San Salvador.” As the crew sing hymns, a rat leaves the ship and begins the vermin infestation of the New World. Columbus is soon disappointed that the natives, although peaceful, do not speak any known language. Pinzon finds an “Indian” with a gold nose ornament and sails away, without permission, to find the source of gold. On Christmas Eve, Columbus meets the natives’ chief and hosts a feast, where he is introduced to tobacco. As they exchange gifts, the Santa Maria’s moorings snap, drifts into a huge rock, and sinks. Columbus believes it is a sign from God. He decides to leave behind the sunken ship’s crew to form the first “Christian settlement,” and names the spot “Navidad.” He Harana to command the Santa Maria crew until he can return with a rescue ship. When Pinzon returns with a basket of gold nuggets, the men are disappointed by how little there is, and Columbus orders them to strip the natives of their ornaments. Abducting six “Indians,” Columbus leaves, and the remaining sailors squabble over duties and women. One day, Alvaro kills a man. When his father attempts to arrest him, Alvaro stabs him as well. On the ships, the natives refuse the Christian teachings and Columbus declares they will be slaves unless they are “saved.” One man leaps overboard and drowns while Columbus orders the others shackled. Back on the island, Alvaro takes over and forces the natives to search for gold. One day, he stabs a “savage,” and a woman retaliates with a spear. Realizing the Spaniards are not gods, the natives slaughter them and burn down the settlement. Columbus makes it home to find Pinzon has arrived first, but is ill with fever. Before he dies, Pinzon warns, “Do not let greed put you in chains.” Columbus steps out onto the quay and is greeted by a cheering crowd. At the palace, he presents the natives and gold to the King who dubs him “Admiral of the Seas and Viceroy of the New World.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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