Action stars old and new, gun fights, punch ups, explosions, Gerard Butler saving the US president – if it says Millennium on the tin, it’s usually easy to imagine what’s inside. To celebrate 30 highly successful years in business, the company has selected 10 films from its library that best represent its rise, including multiple franchise-starters and one definitive un-gung ho prestige moment.
16 blocks (2006)
The first film to bear the Millennium title. Avi Lerner’s Nu Image has been making films since 1992, but this gung-ho crime-thriller — starring Bruce Willis as a booed-up, burned-out NYPD detective — was the debut from then-subsidiary label Millennium Films. It was also the last film of famous Hollywood director Richard Donner.
John Rambo returns! Two decades after his last outing (and with the rights eventually acquired by Millennium), Stallone once again donned the famous bandana and the franchise — now Millennium’s “most successful,” according to CEO Jeffrey Greenstein — was reborn. Rambo: Last Blood Follows in 2019.
The film mustered some big movie muscle (Sly! Statham! Li! Lundgren!) and kick-started one of the most successful franchises of all time (a fourth will be released next year). “It was a lovely surprise,” says Greenstein. “And it’s now a franchise that makes almost three-quarters of a billion dollars.” And who can forget the Cannes moment in 2014 to mark the third film when the tanks rolled into Croisette?
Fresh from The Expendables, Jason Statham was flying the millennium flag, this time in Simon West’s action-thriller Hitman and another franchise-starter alongside Ben Foster and Donald Sutherland. After grossing over $75 million, a sequel, Mechanic: Resurrection, was released in 2016. “We hope to do more with the franchise,” says Greenstein.
This unlikely move away from action with director Lee Daniels may not have been a box office hit, but it propelled Millennium into prestigious theatrical territory, premiering at Cannes and earning Nicole Kidman Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations. “It’s just a cool thing, and we’re really proud to have done it,” says Greenstein.
Olympus has fallen (2013)
Millennium can take major credit for resurrecting Gerard Butler’s action star status, thanks to his turn as gun-toting, president-saving Mike Bannon. Olympus has fallen grossing $170 million, spawning two hit sequels and more to come. Greenstein notes: “We were playing a romantic comedy for Keeps with Gerry and we said, dude, people loved you in 300 and want to see you kick ass again.” He did. And continues to do so today.
home page (2013)
This Statham-starrer set among meth labs and biker gangs in small-town Louisiana — according to Greenstein, “a good action movie with some dramatic chops” — did decent business for the millennium after its release. But nearly 10 years later Homefront made a dramatic comeback on Netflix, taking the No. 1 film spot.
Hitman’s bodyguard (2017)
Two of the biggest names in the business – Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson (along with Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek) – teamed up for this wildly successful adventure comedy, which grossed $176 million at the global box office. “When I first brought it up, Avi (Lerner) said I was out of my mind,” Greenstein recalls. “Of course, now he always says he’s in love with the hitman’s bodyguard.” A hitman’s wife’s bodyguard follows, and a third can see another family member thrown into confusion.
Starring Scott Eastwood, Orlando Bloom and Caleb Landry-Jones, this new offering from Millennium is a realistic war film set in Afghanistan and shows the real-life struggle of US Army veterans who come up against the might of the Taliban. . “It was an incredibly heroic event where these guys said we have to stick together and we’re not going to give up,” says Greenstein.
until death (2021)
Megan Fox leads this icy thriller, one of the first shots during the pandemic and a film that seems like it will never happen when travel bans explode around the world and countries begin to shut down. But through perseverance it happened. “We found a way to keep it going, and we did it safely with no more COVID cases,” Greenstein says. The Millennium will now begin on its 10thTh From the lockdown.
This story first appeared in the Nov. 4 daily issue of The Hollywood Reporter on American Film Market.