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plot summary

Plot: Naval officer must outsmart computerized controls of nuclear power plant before its destruction leads to nuclear holocaust. (from Variety)

(read synopsis here)

Yves Simoneau / John Dahl


Dolph Lundgren

John Kneale / Wade Erickson

genre Action
production co(s) The Meltdown Film Company / August Entertainment (Hemdale Film Corp.)
budget $15-20M
producers George Braunstein, Ron Hamady
writers John Carpenter (original screenplay) & Jim O'Hara (revisions), John Dahl & Rick Dahl, Scott Chestnut (rewrite), Ate de Jong (revisions)
location Vienna, Austria

news & updates

Based on a 1978 screenplay by John Carpenter (Vampires), produced by George Braunstein, Ron Hamady. Production companies: August Entertainment, The Meltdown Film Co. (Hemdale (The Terminator) and Trimark Pictures (Cube) had also been involved, and TriStar Pictures was to handle US distribution).

In 1992, Dolph Lundgren announced it would be shot right after Joshua Tree and directed by Canadian director Yves Simoneau (Mother's Boy starring Jaimie Lee Curtis).

"Didn't you have a project with John Carpenter ? -Yes, Meltdown, a sci-fi movie directed by Yves Simoneau, a Canadian who's very talented, like Roland Emmerich. I'll play a a dark character, not clear, a little like the Punisher!" Dolph Lundgren in Cine-News, June 1992 (translated from French)

"In October I must shoot Meltdown, based on screenplay by John Carpenter. Terrorists get over a nuclear plant and threaten to blow it up. Here my role will be much darker, very disturbed, a little like the Punisher." Dolph Lundgren in Impact, June 1992 (translated from French)

Dir: Yves Simoneau
Cast: Dolph Lundgren
Producers: George Braunstein, Ron Hamady
Screenplay: John Carpenter, Robert Roy Pool
Start Date: 7/92
Negative Cost: $15 million
Lundgren is am anti-terrorist strongman in this bruising action-adventure."
1993-94 FilmReleases (C)1993 Eric G. Carter

It was to be released around fall-Christmas 1993 "Meltdown-When a terrorist group seizes a nuclear power plant and initiates a meltdown, ex-commando Dolph Lundgren is the only one who can save millions. Yves Simoneau directs a screenplay co-written by John Carpenter."

Two years later, Meltdown was scheduled for March 1994, then October 1994 with writer/director John Dahl (Red Rock West, Last Seduction). The script was rewrote by John & Rick Dahl and Scott Chetsnut. Principal photography even began (in the fall 1994) but the production stopped after the first week of filming in Vienna (Austria), because of legal issues of production / distribution rights. Trimark Pictures earlier filed a $20 million lawsuit against Miramax Films, August Entertainment and the Walt Disney Company, claiming that Miramax maneuvered to acquire the domestic rights away from Trimark after they had already been purchased from August Entertainment. In February 1995, August Entertainment and the production companies filed a lawsuit against Trimark Pictures. Lundgren immediately shot The Shooter in Prague.

"Dahl is currently working on Meltdown, an action picture starring Dolph Lundgren. "After I finished The Last Seduction, I was offered all of these horror films that were very bad. In the end, I decided to try Meltdown. It's another form to play with, and I was able to completely rewrite the script," which, he adds, "will be very dark." from Filmmmaker Magazine, Summer 94 issue

So I was reading a copy of from August of 1994 today and came across this little tidbit:

"The doomsday thriller "Meltdown" began filming in May on location at a nuclear power plant in Vienna. The John Carpenter screenplay concerns a resourceful Navy SEAL, played by Dolph Lundgren, pitted against a gang of nuclear terrorists. John Dahl, whose last film was "Red Rock West," directs." from Sci-Fi Entertainment, August 1994

"The giant Swede bet big on Meltdown based on a script by John Carpenter, a nuclear terrorism story. One week after the begining of cinematography, the shooting is suddenly stopped by a very convoluted legal procedure" from Impact (France), October 94 (translated from French)

Listed as a project in development by Cinescape (November 1994 issue):
The Plot: The action-adventure tale, scripted by John Carpenter, follows a terrorist group with unpredictable results.
The Players: Dolph Lundgren
The Director: Jonh Dahl
Distributor: Tri-Star
Release Date: TBD"

"WFF (The Vienna Film Financing Fund) has already subsidized a small but eclectic group of American co-productions, ranging from Disney's brat pack Three Musketeers and an upcoming Dolph Lundgren vehicle called Meltdown" from Filmmaker Magazine, Winter 94/95 issue

According to Asiaweek, November 1994, filming in the Philippines was scheduled for 1995: "Meltdown, $5M effort that will star Dolph Lundgren and makes use of the mothballed nuclear power plant in nearby Bataan province."

[John Carpenter] "will produce Meltdown (nuclear terrorism) : "it will be hot", he says." from Le Nouvel Observateur, March 1995 (translated from French)

"It almost took shape, this Meltdown, a science-fiction thriller based on a script by John Carpenter. Starring Dolph Lundgren, as a kind of Mad Max disabused cop. A near future cop who must deliver a young woman from terrorists hidden in nuclear plant they threaten to blow up! "The producers who financed the movie pretented having the necesseray budget and just laked a distributor for US territory. In fact, these people lied! To finance the project, they sold the rights to a distributor, and another three days later. So one brought it to court. Three days before the begining of photography, Meltdown production was stopped by justice, waiting a judgement was made about rights ownership. Here is what became what would make an action film a la Joel Silver. I still ignore if the project will be brought back into production. Whatever, it wlli be without me." John Dahl in Impact (France), April 95 (translated from French)

It's really a shame it didn't make it, because Lundgren + Carpenter + Dahl was the perfect package, a more nuclear Peacekeeper !

Dutch filmmaker Ate de Jong delivered a revised script in April 1995 (don't know if Dolph was still attached) and he was set direct the film in 1997-98 with Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) as the lead.

" 'Meltdown' heats up -- again - Inside Move - By REX WEINER
Illustrating the adage that "the show must go on," or just about any Hollywood cliche you can think of, "Meltdown" is back up again.
The indie action project, financed by Gregory Cascante's August Entertainment in which Dolph Lundgren was set to star, is famous in foreign sales circles, various courtrooms and certain attorneys' offices for falling apart eight days before shooting. With pre-sales banked and partially spent, and both Miramax and Trimark laying claim to domestic distrib rights, the resulting legal fallout kept "Meltdown" in limbo for the past three years until a recent court settlement.
The project is now back on course with Casper Van Dien (upcoming lead in "Starship Troopers") set to star and Dutch helmer Ata De Jong directing. The script, originally penned by John Carpenter, was rewritten by brothers John and Rick Dahl. George Braunstein and Ron Hamady are producing
Financed once again by pre-sales conducted by August and led by Cascante, the under $20 million pic is scheduled for an early April start in New York and Austria. "
from Variety, October 20,1997

John Carpenter would have said in 1998 : "I don't know anything about this. Meltdown is a script I wrote for hire in 1978. It was originally called The Prometheus Crisis, it had been a book. These two young producers had the rights and wanted me to do a draft of it. What I wrote was Halloween in a nuclear plan. They shopped it around, it didn't get made. I even read it again in '84, right after Starman. It was interesting but boy, did it need some work. Then 4-5 years ago I heard they were going to do it with Dolph Lundgren. It was a terrorist thing now, terrorists in a nuclear plant. That didn't go. Now I hear it's going again. I'll guarantee you, it's not my screenplay. I haven't said a word to anybody about this project since probably 1980." News from a John Carpenter fansite

"In the seventies, Carpenter wrote two similar scripts, Meltdown and Prometheus Crisis, dealing with extremists terrorists groups. None was filmed to date, even if Meltdown successively interested John Dahl (Last Seduction), Dolph Lundgren, Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) and Ate de Jong (Miami Vice)." from Mad Movies, John Carpenter special issue #1, November 2001 (translated from French)

The project is now announced at AFM 2003 and brought back into pre-production for a fall 2003 filming, but probably without Dolph Lundgren nor Casper Van Dien.

Director: Ate de Jong
Producers: George Braunstein / David Parfitt
Production status: X Preproduction
Budget: $18,5m
Country of Origin/co-production: UK
Nuclear plant attacked by terrorists. One American Man and one British Woman are between the terrorists and a Meltdown; their attitudes clash, but they are the only ones who can save the day."
from The Business of Film AFM 2003 Product Guide


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