As we mentioned in our TV show coverage, the success of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK gave long developing projects a new lease on life. Here we look at one unrealized project that was announced before RAIDERS hit theaters that, despite a shift to a more Jones-ian style advertising, couldn’t get made.
TERRY AND THE PIRATES was a popular comic strip created by Milton Caniff in the 1930s. The daily strip followed the Far East exploits of one Terry Lee, who is initially seeking gold and encounters a myriad of villains over the comic’s astounding 39 year run (1934-73). Over this period, the popular panel was adapted into a radio serial (1937-48), a 15 chapter Columbia film serial (1940), and short-lived television series (1953). Naturally a feature film version seemed a viable feature and the following ad appeared from AVCO-Embassy in a 1980 Variety (look familiar?) that even takes a dig at box office hit SUPERMAN (1979):
The company seemed very high on the project with various press releases in Variety touting a budget vacillating between $8 to $11 million dollars. The always present “international cast to be announced soon” invariably showed up, but the only names ever officially associated with the project in print were D.O.A. (1950) scripters Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene (as producers). Both men had not done anything since their late 60s D.O.A. revamp COLOR ME DEAD (1969). What is interesting here is the ads run circa 1981/82 when RAIDERS was getting big that took a more Indiana Jones-esque style:
Sadly, the project never materialized as AVCO-Embassy got sucked into the corporate film world and became Embassy Pictures Corporation. Given the popularity of pirates today thanks to the PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN series, I’m surprised no one has opted to make this nowadays. Then again, it is probably a) caught up in some legal mess and b) harder to find anyone who knows what TERRY AND THE PIRATES is.
Box Office magazine article (Sept. 18, 1978):