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Peter S. Davis Dead: ‘Highlander’ producer was 79

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He helped turn Christopher Lambert’s film about the immortals into a franchise that included sequels, TV series, and video games.

Peter S. Davis, the colorful producer of the 1986 film starring Christopher Lambert Highlander which launched a slew of sequels, TV offspring and video games, has passed away. He was 79 years old.

Davis died in his sleep at his Calabasas home on Sunday, son Joshua Davis said The Hollywood Reporter.

Davis produced other features, including The collector of death (1976), starring Joe Pesci in his first credited role; Waterfalls (1977), with Robert Forster in a first New Line Cinema film; The Osterman weekend (1983), the last feature film from director Sam Peckinpah; andCutting class (1989), starring a young Brad Pitt.

Highlander started out as a neglected immortal script written by UCLA undergraduate Gregory Widen. Davis convinced Fox and Thorn / EMI to support the film in the early 1980s and recruited Sean Connery to play Juan Snchez-Villalobos Ramrez.

Lambert, born on Long Island but raised in Switzerland, was hired to play the lead role before Davis found out the actor was not fluent in English. Still, Lambert’s turn as Connor MacLeod has garnered a cult following, first in Europe and then on home VHS video.

Under the supervision of Davis and his last longtime production partner, Bill Panzer, The Tale that Skips a Century has grown into a franchise that now consists of four feature films, over 140 television episodes, an animated series, a sword company and an iconic Queen soundtrack. .

Going after Connery was his idea, he said a few years ago.

“I thought he would be great in the role, but I was put off by everyone,” he recalls. “Everyone told me there was no way in the world that I was having Sean Connery. I spoke to his agents at the time, and they said, ‘Davis, just make an offer you know he’s a very well paid actor. offer.’ I offered $ 300,000 for a week’s work. They told me I was far from the mark. But then I increased the bet from $ 500,000 to $ 700,000. Always nothing. So eventually his agents said, “Peter, we like nice round numbers. So we offered a million.

“This brought the script to Sean. We immediately heard that he enjoyed the play if he could make some changes to expand the role. We ultimately picked the million for the work of the week. David Tringham, who was the first assistant director on the old-school cinema movie told us that shooting Sean would be nearly impossible in a week. But they made it work. David, director Russell Mulcahy and production designer Alan Cameron built the [interior] takes place back to back so Sean can be moved from scene to scene. Russell shot the shit and got the real value out of our millions of dollars. “

As his son wrote, Davis “was a staple in the independent film world, eating lunch at the Dome or Ago in purple sunglasses and driving a red convertible Maserati around town. In May, he took to the bar at the Majestic in Cannes. , often trying to increase overseas sales with posters for films that did not yet exist.

“For years he lived on La Costa Beach in Malibu, surrounded by dogs and fish ponds filled with moray eels and clownfish. He was a die-hard entrepreneur whose drive led him to start businesses ranging from an exotic car dealership on the Sunset Strip to a home-based pole dance supply store. He approached every effort with the same combination of intense focus, legal acumen, and unbuttoned paisley shirts. “

Davis, who started his career as a lawyer on Wall Street and started his own firm in his twenties before coming to Hollywood in 1977, was working on a project led by Chad Stahelski. Highlander reboot with producer Neal H. Moritz at Lionsgate, his son, co-founder of Epic magazine, said he would step in as a producer to help bring the project to fruition.

“In one of our last conversations, I asked him if he was going to retire after the Highlander the restart is done at Lionsgate. I was trying to get him to think about slowing down, having a hobby maybe, “his son said.” But he just looked at me and said, ‘Josh, after making this movie, we’re going to do five more. ‘”

Survivors also include his wife, Katia, sister Vida, daughter Danielle and two grandchildren.

Borys Kit contributed to this report.



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