Carolco Pictures was a production company started by Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna back in the late 1970's. Beginning in producing Canadian films (such as the 1979 comedy The Silent Partner), they eventually worked their way up by producing First Blood in 1982. Financing their productions through international sales, they created a model in which their films often had high budgets and gave the actors a handsome sum for their services. A few of their movies even broke records for the highest budgeted movies ever (1985's Rambo: First Blood Part II cost $44 million, 1988's Rambo III cost $63 million and 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day cost $102 million, the first film to break that mark).
Despite their success, the high costs and the company's spending sprees (they also broke into television production, home video distribution and owned a studio formerly owned by Dino de Laurentiis in North Carolina) caught up with the company. Vajna left to start his own production company, Cinergi, and Kassar began to spend more to make more. Two 1995 productions, Showgirls and Cutthroat Island, sealed the company's fate as both films cost a combined $140 million and grossed just a combined $30 million.
Kassar and Vajna later got back together for a few productions under the C2 Pictures name.
Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were regulars for the Carolco brand. Jerry Goldsmith scored the company's fanfare and releases were mostly distributed through Tri-Star Pictures (though their last films were released by MGM).
Films produced by Carolco Pictures include:
- The first three Rambo films.
- Red Heat
- They Live - international distribution
- Shocker - international distribution
- Total Recall
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day
- Basic Instinct
- Universal Soldier
- Cutthroat Island