Tidbits, Trivia, & Production Info

  • The Beastmaster opened nationally in the United States on Friday, August 19, 1982 in 16 cities on 165 screens.

  • So, how did the film do upon theaterical release? So-so, would best describe it. The movie opened in fifth place and never rose above that mark. In its opening week, it came in behind An Officer and a Gentleman" (1), Friday the 13th Part 3-D (2), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (3), and The Road Warrior (4). It only lasted in Variety's top 50 movies for six weeks.

    The following chart shows how much money it made during its first six weeks of theaterical release, according to Variety.

    Week Ending Gross Place No. of Cities No. of Screens Average Per Screen
    August 25, 1982 $1,139,550 5th 16 165 $6,906
    Sept. 1, 1982 $1,328,765 5th 24 231 $5,752
    Sept. 8, 1982 $621,480 11th 22 134 $4,637
    Sept. 15, 1982 $287,297 11th 18 66 $4,352
    Sept. 22, 1982 $102,365 28th 11 29 $3,529
    Sept. 29, 1982 $42,799 37th 8 16 $2,674

    By the time it fell out of the top 50, The Beastmaster had made $3,561,475, well short of its original budget. According to producer Paul Pepperman in an article in Variety (Richard Klein, "Coscarelli Decides Large Budget Didn't Tame 'Beastmaster,'" August 25, 1982), the budget was $9 million, although in the commentary on the DVD he and Coscarelli say it was about $4.7 million. The discrepency may be that the lower figure only includes production costs and does not include advertising and other postproduction costs.


  • In a May 29, 1987 UPI article (Kate Callen, "Child Actors Watched Closely After 'Twilight' Tragedy"), Linda Stone-Elster, a studio teacher on the set during the filming of "The Beastmaster," said there had originally been a scene in which a 12-year-old boy (presumably Billy Jacoby, who played the young Dar) faced off with a tiger. She said both she and the boy's parents didn't feel comfortable with the scripted scene, but the tiger trainers assured her the animal would be restrained "by a rigging around its neck."

    According to Stone-Elster: ''Seconds before the cameras rolled, they undid the rigging. When I complained, they said the tiger was worth $60,000 andthey didn't want the animal to strangle itself."

    At any rate, the scene was never shot because Stone-Elster said she took the young actor from the set. Apparently, there wasn't any problem with him facing down a bear instead, which is presumably the scene that replaced it. However, one has to wonder if perhaps the original script called for a tiger because this scene was Dar's first encounter with Ruh. This is all just speculation, but doesn't it give added meaning to the scene where the adult Dar rescues the captured cat from the Juns? This way, he's not just teaming up with any animal, but with an animal he remembers from his childhood.

    Director Don Coscarelli

  • Co-writer/director Don Coscarelli was only 28 years old when he made The Beastmaster. With a budget in the millions and a full crew, it was by far the most ambitious and expensive movie he had ever made. The most expensive film he had made before that was the cult horror flick Phantasm (1978), which had only cost $500,000.

  • In an article in the August 25, 1982 issue of Variety (Richard Klein, "Coscarelli Decides Large Budget Didn't Tame 'Beastmaster'"), coproducer Paul Pepperman said the money for the production was raised by a "consortium of foreign investors." He and the other producer, Sylvio Tabet, also raised funds by selling off the foreign rights to the film at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival and at the previous year's Mifed market in Milan.

  • In that same article, Coscarelli lamented some of his experience working on The Beastmaster, which was a far different experience than making his other, much more low-budget efforts. He said he often encountered motivational problems among the production team, and he got the feeling that they were only there for the paycheck.

    Coscarelli has been more vocal in other interviews about the problems he encountered while making the film. In a interview published in 1999 at the DVD web site The Digital Bits (http://www.thedigitalbits.com), Coscarelli had this to say in response to the question, "You've talked about how [The Beastmaster was taken away from you at times. What would have been different about your fully-controlled version of The Beastmaster?":

    That's very hard to say, as the creative interference on that film by the Executive Producer was so pervasive. However, on the surface, The Beastmaster would have been very obviously different. I wrote the villainous role for the late Klaus Kinski, who was not cast over a $5,000 dispute. I had several readings with an eighteen-year-old Demi Moore, who had never been in a film. The executive producer decided she couldn't act, and selected Tanya Roberts instead. The animal trainer was fired, and another "friend" of the Executive Producer hired. This Executive Producer had me forcibly removed from the editing room, and recut my version entirely. Suffice to say, it would be impossible to gauge what my "fully controlled version" would have been. However, there are some things in the film I am very proud of, and I'm pleased that, despite the creative problems, many people worldwide have enjoyed the film.

  • You would never know it from reading the film credits, but The Beastmaster was actually based on a science fiction novel of the same title by Andre Norton, the author of some 170 novels. There is very little resemblance between the movie and the book, except for the fact that they both have similar plot structures: a lone man who can communicate with animals has his home destroyed and seeks revenge. However, the book is more of a futuristic Western, and the hero is a Navaho commando named Hosteen Storm.

    Norton had her name completely removed from the movie project because she disliked the new screenplay so much. However, those who make the mistake of subjecting themselves to the pathetic 1991 sequel, Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time, will notice that her name appears in the credits as the original source of the story. It's not that Norton liked the sequel any better--she did it under advice of her agent.

  • Much of The Beastmaster was photographed on sets at the MGM/UA lot in Southern California. All the exteriors, especially in the canyon scenes, were filmed in Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park and California's Simi Valley. The lake scenes were filmed on Pyramid Lake in Los Padres National Forest, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles.

  • You won't recognize the face under all the make-up, but if you've seen American Anthem (1986), you might recognize the body. Witchwoman #3, the one to whom Dar gives that nifty reverse-sword-through-the-gut move on top of the pyramid during the climatic rescue scene, is played by none other than Janet Jones, the model/actress wife of hockey player Wayne Gretzsky.

  • There was a longstanding rumor that an additonal nude scene with Tanya Roberts was filmed in addition to the infamous swimming scene. However, the producers decided that it needed to be cut because they were aiming for a more kid-friendly "PG" rating, and the additional scene would certainly net the film an "R."

    Tanya Roberts in Oct. 1982 PlayboyWhen Anchor Bay released the DVD in October 2001, the infamous nude scene was proven to exist. Hidden in the "Extras" menu as an easter egg, there are several rough takes of a love scene between Kiri and Dar that, judging by the setting (at night by a campfire), would have been included after the scene in which King Zed orders Dar out after he disagrees with him about how to fight the Juns.

  • Speaking of Tanya Roberts ... do you know how she helped out in marketing the film? She appeared in the October 1982 issue of Playboy magazine, which printed an interview with her and had quite a Beastmaster-inspired photo layout, complete with a lion and a Ruh-ish spray-painted tiger.

  • In a May 21, 1996 interview in The Chicago Tribune, Marc Singer said the animal trainer with whom he worked while filming The Beastmaster gave him this advice on dealing with Ruh: "He pointed at the tiger, and said 'Cat.' I said, 'Yes.' And then he pointed at me and said, 'Mouse.' I said, 'I think I can remember the concept.' "

  • The Beastmaster appears to be one of comedian/author Dennis Miller's favorite punchlines, especially when making fun of the cable movie channels. I've heard one joke of his, where he explains what HBO actually stands for: "Hey, Beastmaster's On!"

    Another joke of his, which comes from his book, The Rants: "I know we don't like to vote -- marking your ballot nowadays is like choosing between the 3 a.m. showing of Beastmaster on Showtime and the 3 a.m. showing of Beastmaster 2 on Cinemax."

  • The sword Dar wields in the film is a hybrid of a Japanese katana and Arabic scimitar. The sword was designed by a sword- and knifemaker named Vic Anselmo, and it was fully functional, with a tempered blade of D2 tool steel, canvas micarta handle, and hand-carved fittings of brass. The following is reprinted from the biographhy of Vic Anselmo at the web site of Albion Armorers, a company that has brought Anselmo out of retirement to recreate Dar's sword:

    In 1981, Vic was approached by the production company that was making a film loosely based on the Andre Norton science-fiction/fantasy novel The Beastmaster.

    They showed Vic production drawings they had made for the sword they wanted, and Vic could tell from the beginning that it would not work. "I don't -- and won't -- make heavy movie props," Vic told them. "If you want a real sword, I'll make you a real sword." He, in true Vic Anselmo style, had a couple of demands: that he be given shop space and equipment at the prop department, but not be an employee; and that he be allowed to redesign the sword to his own specifications. The production company agreed to his demands and Vic got to work.

    Vic spent three weeks making the sword, entirely from scratch. Even the guard, spacer and pommel of the sword were hand-ground from solid blocks of brass.

    In addition to designing and making the sword carried by Marc Singer in the film, Vic also made the aluminum prop sword carried by John Amos.

    In the course of the film's production, Vic also made numerous knives for cast and crew members, among them a $750 bowie knife for John Amos (a picture of this knife is in the book "John Nelson Cooper, Knifemaker to the Stars".)

    Vic has a number of stories about the five and a half months he worked on the sound stage every day of filming, though he visited the location shoot in Lake Piru only once.

    After shooting was complete, Vic sharpened the sword and had fun with the crew chopping up the set. "The sword did great," Vic recalls.

    Unfortunately, in the confusion that usually follows the conclusion of filming, the original sword disappeared and was never recovered. (When the second movie was filmed, a fiberglass replica of the original sword wasused.)

    In 1983 (a year after the film was released), Marc Singer asked Vic to make him a copy of the sword for his personal collection. Vic wasn't happy with the way it came out, primarily because it was a rush job. "It didn't have the same balance as the original, but Marc had to have it in 6 days," Vic relates.

    Joe Bob Briggs

  • For those familiar with the writings of Joe Bob Briggs and his hosting TNT's Saturday-night MonsterVision, here is a reprinting of the Drive-In Totals for The Beastmaster:

  • 105 Dead bodies
  • 1 Dead dog
  • Bald monk suicide
  • Fetus transplant
  • Mace to the back
  • Hatchet flinging
  • Barbarian horde
  • Raping
  • Pillaging
  • Looting
  • Body hacking
  • Multiple impailments
  • Funeral pyre
  • Child sacrifice
  • Multiple torture chambers
  • Hag piercing
  • Sword wielding hare krishnas
  • Brain damaged torture victim body hacking
  • Priest burning
  • Flaming barbarians
  • Head rolls
  • Kung fu
  • Quicksand fu
  • Crossbow fu
  • Sword fu
  • After reading that list, is it any wonder Joe Bob gave it his 4-star rating?

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