Christopher Columbus: The Discovery is a 1992 American-British-Spanish 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 an 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 the exact 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 discovery of the Americas.Marlon Brando as Tomás de TorquemadaTom Selleck as King Ferdinand VGeorges 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 PinzónCatherine Zeta-Jones as Beatriz Enriquez de AranaOliver Cotton as HaranaBenicio del Toro as Alvaro HaranaSimon Dormandy as BivesMichael Gothard as the Inquisitor's spyBranscombe Richmond as Indian ChieftainChristopher 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 suit 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.
The film received mostly negative reviews, with a rotten 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 29 reviews, with the website's critical consensus reading "Ironically, for a biopic about a voyage many associate with people accepting that the world is round, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery falls completely flat." Brando's performance in particular was singled out as his "worst". Roger Ebert agreed with this sentiment while giving the movie 1 out of 4 stars, stating "This movie takes one of history's great stories and treats it in such a lackluster manner that Columbus's voyage seems as endless to us as it did to his crew."
It won one Golden Raspberry Award Worst Supporting Actor – Tom Selleck, and was nominated for another five, including; Worst Picture, Worst Supporting Actor – Marlon Brando, Worst New Star – Georges Corraface, Worst Screenplay – Mario Puzo and Worst Director – John Glen.
The film was released on VHS and LaserDisc formats from Warner Home Video. It has not been released on DVD in North America, but is available in other format regions on DVD.