The Phantom movie was release on the 7th of June 1996, an Australian-American superhero film directed by Simon Wincer, staring Billy Zane as The Phantom, a seemingly immortal crime fighter in his battle against all forms of evil.
The movie also stars Treat Williams, Kristy Swanson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, James Remar and Patrick McGoohan. The film’s screenplay by Jeffrey Boam is loosely inspired by three Phantom stories, “The Singh Brotherhood”, “The Sky Band” and “The Belt”, with added supernatural elements and several new characters.
The movie was co-produced by The Ladd Company, Village Roadshow Pictures and Hearst Entertainment, distributed by Paramount Pictures. With a budget of $45 million USD, shooting commenced in October 1995 and concluded on February 13, 1996. The film was shot in California, Thailand and Australia.
In the early 16th century, a young boy helplessly witnesses his father’s death at the hands of Kabai Singh, the ruthless leader of the Singh brotherhood who attacked their ship. The boy jumps overboard and is washed ashore on an island called Bengalla, where he is found by local tribesmen, who take him to their village. There he is given the Skull Ring, swears to devote his life to the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice, and as an adult adopts the identity of “The Phantom”, a masked avenger. The role of The Phantom is passed on from father to son through four hundred years, leading people to believe in a single, immortal figure.
In 1938, Kit Walker, the 21st Phantom, finds a man named Quill leading a mercenary group in the jungle. The group is searching for one of the Skulls of Touganda, which grants its owner a tremendously destructive power. The Phantom saves the native boy they have kidnapped to be their guide and captures Quill’s men, leaving them to be picked up by the Jungle Patrol. Revealed as a member of the Sengh Brotherhood and the man who killed Kit’s father – whose ghost frequently appears to Kit to give him advice – Quill flees with the Skull and returns to the United States.
In New York City, Kit’s ex-girlfriend from college, Diana Palmer, is a frequent traveler whose uncle, Dave Palmer, is the famous owner of the World Tribune newspaper. The paper has been investigating power-hungry business man Xander Drax, a shady character with a reputation for having dealings with criminals. Palmer has managed to uncover that Drax is connected to a mysterious spider web symbol, which he traces back to the Bengalla Jungle. He sends Diana to investigate, but makes the mistake of telling New York’s corrupt police commissioner, who is allied with Drax, of Diana’s trip. The airplane is hijacked by Drax’s female air pirates led by femme fatale Sala; Diana is abducted and taken to their base on the waterfront in Bengalla. Having been informed of Diana’s abduction by the Jungle Patrol’s captain Phillip Horton, the Phantom rescues Diana and escapes from Quill and his men to his headquarters, the Skull Cave.
Back in New York, now dressed as his civilian self, Kit meets with David Palmer at the World Tribune and once again meets with Diana, who has mixed feelings about him since his sudden disappearance several years before. Diana’s would-be suitor Jimmy Wells mentions he had seen one of the skulls in the Museum of World History. Kit and Diana hurry there and are captured by Drax and his men, who steal the second Skull and unite it with the first, revealing the location of the third Skull on an uncharted island in the Andaman Sea known as the Devil’s Vortex. Kit manages to escape from Drax and his henchmen and, as the Phantom, evades the police outside the museum. Meanwhile, after Sala reveals that Diana is his girlfriend, she flies Drax, Quill and Diana to the Devil’s Vortex, not knowing that the Phantom has managed to hitch a ride on one of the plane’s landing pontoons.
On the island, Drax meets with the pirate Kabai Singh, direct descendant of the Brotherhood’s original leader, who possesses the third Skull. Singh warns Drax of the existence of the Fourth Skull, which controls the power of the other three. The Phantom appears and battles both men, with Kabai Singh killed by his own pool of sharks, and Diana and Sala cooperate to defeat the other villains. Drax unites the three Skulls and turns their power against the Phantom; in the process, Quill is accidentally hit and disintegrated. The Phantom uses the Fourth Skull – his own ring – to turn the Skulls’ power back against them, destroying them and Drax in a powerful explosion. As the island is destroyed, the Phantom narrowly escapes with Diana and Sala.
In Bengalla once again, Diana reveals to the Phantom she has figured out his secret and his double identity. Kit removes his mask, telling her that he is only allowed to reveal all of his secrets to one person, the woman he intends to marry, but she leaves again for New York. Kit’s father laments his son’s failure to pursue Diana, but states that she will return to the Phantom’s jungle, and to Kit, one day.
- The Phantom / Kit Walker by Billy Zane.
- Xander Drax by Treat Williams.
- Diana Palmer by Kristy Swanson.
- Sala by Catherine Zeta-Jones.
- Quill by James Remar.
- The Phantom’s Father (The 20th Phantom) by Patrick McGoohan.
- Guran by Radmar Agana Jao.
- Captain Philip Horton by Robert Coleby.
- The Great Kabai Singh by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.
- Dave Palmer by Bill Smitrovich.
- Morgan by Casey Siemaszko.
- Charlie Zephro by David Proval.
- Ray Zephro by Joseph Ragno.
- Police Commissioner Farley by Al Ruscio.
- Lily Palmer by Samantha Eggar.
- Jimmy Wells by Jon Tenney.
- Al the Cabby by John Capodice.
Filming began on October 3, 1995, in Los Angeles at Greystone Park. For the exterior of the Palmers’ English-style manor the mansion of Playboy magazine’s Hugh Hefner, a longtime fan of the Phantom, was used.
The Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park doubled for New York City’s Central Park Zoo, the setting for a chase sequence. Shooting continued on Hollywood studio backlot streets that recreated the 1938 version of New York City. Over fifty vintage cars were used on the streets, and four hundred extras costumed in authentic period clothing were employed.
In October, the production traveled to Thailand for seven weeks of filming there, with the country doubling as the Phantom’s fictional home country Bengalla. Action scenes such as the Phantom saving a boy from a collapsing rope bridge were filmed here. Production designer Paul Peters changed a deserted warehouse in the town Krabi into a large sound stage, where the Phantom’s Skull Cave abode was erected, including his Chronicle Chamber, vault, and radio and treasure rooms.
In December, the crew traveled to Australia, where production occupied eight sound stages at the Village Roadshow Studios in, Queensland. At Stage 5, the Singh Pirates Cave was constructed, constituting the largest interior setting ever built in the country. The New York offices of Xander Drax were constructed on Stage 6. Filming in Queensland also took the production to the Brisbane City Hall, where the interior lobby was redecorated to resemble a New York museum, where Kit Walker finds one of the three Skulls of Touganda. Manor Apartment Hotel in Brisbane was used as a stand in for a New York skyscraper.
On the final day of shooting, the production relocated to Los Angeles, California to complete a scene that would ultimately end up deleted from the final cut of the movie, where the Phantom wrestles a lion. Filming concluded on February 13, 1996.
Many scenes developing the romance between the Phantom/Kit Walker and Diana Palmer were cut in order to make the film more fast-paced. An action scene featuring the Phantom fighting a snake were also cut. A scene with the Phantom and his horse Hero rearing in the sunset was cut out of the film (see the below clip to view this scene).