A massive hit, Deliverance grossed $46 million at the US box office in 1972. John Boorman was given the pick of films to make in its wake. Boorman chose to make Zardoz.
After the success of Deliverance, Boorman used his commercial and creative clout to get Zardoz off the ground. He snagged Sean Connery as the star, scored a $1 million budget from 20th Century Fox, went to Ireland to shoot the movie and the rest is red-nappied history. It’s easy to imagine that 20th Century Fox was hoping to replicate the success of 1968’s The Planet Of The Apes – after all, both films feature loin-clothed hulking stars infiltrating a curious future society. However, the Charlton Heston movie followed Hollywood convention, while Boorman’s film throws convention out the window.
If Sean Connery wanted to throw down the shackles of James Bond, then he did it with this sci-fi drama. He clearly had faith in Boorman’s strong vision, however he might just have been the only one who understands what that vision might have been. Boorman uses The Wizard of Oz as a stepping-off point but I wouldn’t go into this expecting a remake of the MGM classic. This is cinematic psychedelia at its oddest.
Zardoz grossed $1.8 million at the North American box office in 1974.