Christopher Columbus: The Discovery is a 1992 American historical adventure film directed by John Glen. It was the last project developed by the father and son production team of Alexander and Ilya Salkind (best known for the Superman films that star Christopher Reeve in the title role). The film follows events after the fall of the Emirate of Granada (an Arab principality which was located in the south of Spain), and leads up to the voyage of Columbus to the New World in 1492.
Its behind-the-scenes history involved an elaborate series of financial mishaps, which later brought about an emotional falling-out between Alexander and Ilya; as a frustrated Alexander would later lament in a November 1993 interview with the Los Angeles Times, “I know, after this, that I’ll never make movies again.”
The film was released for the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage. The premiere took place at almost exactly the same time as 1492: Conquest of Paradise, which has often led to confusion between the two films.
The titular Genoese navigator overcomes intrigue in the court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain and gains financing for his expedition to the West Indies, which eventually leads to the European discovery of the Americas.
- Marlon Brando as Tomás de Torquemada.
- Tom Selleck as King Ferdinand V.
- Georges Corraface as Christopher Columbus.
- The role was originally intended for Timothy Dalton.
- Rachel Ward as Queen Isabella I.
- The role was originally intended for Isabella Rossellini.
- Robert Davi as Martín Pinzón.
- Catherine Zeta-Jones as Beatriz Enriquez de Arana.
- Oliver Cotton as Harana.
- Benicio del Toro as Alvaro Harana.
- Simon Dormandy as Bives.
- Michael Gothard as the Inquisitor’s spy.
- Branscombe Richmond as Indian Chieftain.
- Christopher Chaplin as Rodrigo de Escobedo.
Timothy Dalton and Isabella Rossellini, originally chosen to star in the picture, backed out when director George Pan Cosmatos was replaced by John Glen shortly before shooting began. Dalton later filed a lawsuit against the producers for breach of contract and fraud, stating that they did not provide a bank guarantee for his $2.5 million salary. Glen had previously directed Dalton in both of his appearances as James Bond: The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill.
The film was not a commercial success, debuting at #4 and grossing $8 million against its $45 million budget.
Tom Selleck won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor. Marlon Brando was also nominated for Worst Supporting Actor and the film received another four Golden Raspberry Award nominations including; Worst Picture, Worst Director – John Glen, Worst New Star – Georges Corraface and Worst Screenplay – Mario Puzo. At the 1992 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, it received a nomination for Worst Picture.
The film was released on VHS and LaserDisc formats from Warner Home Video in 1993. It has not been released on DVD in North America, but is available in other format regions on DVD.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): John Glen.
- Producer(s): Alexander Salkind and Ilya Salkind.
- Writer(s): John Briley, Cary Bates, and Mario Puzo.
- Music: Cliff Eidelman.
- Cinematography: Alec Mills.
- Editor(s): Matthew Glen.
- Distributor(s): Warner Bros.
- Release Date: 21 August 1992.
- Running Time: 120 minutes.
- Rating: PG.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.