Peter S. Davis, the producer behind the Highlander series, has died at the age of 79. In his four-decade-long career, Davis produced over a dozen films and over 150 hours of television. Davis died Sunday, February 21 in his sleep at his home in Calabasas.
Davis was the CEO and President of Davis-Panzer Productions. The first feature film produced by Davis was Death Collector, the first credited role for Joe Pesci. Davis also produced Stunts, the first feature film from New Line Cinema, The Osterman Weekend, which was the final film from director Sam Peckinpah, and 1989’s Cutting Glass, which starred a young Brad Pitt.
Yet Peter S. Davis is most well-known for producing 1986’s Highlander. The franchise would go on to include four feature films, over 140 episodes of television, an animated series, several video games, and a sword business inspired by the film. Davis produced the Highlander series for over thirty years, with his last production being 2007’s animated film, Highlander: The Search for Vengeance.
Davis was also attached to a Highlander reboot, which is scheduled to be directed by John Wick director Chad Stahelski. Davis’ son Joshua has said he will step in as producer to help with the project. It’s unclear how involved Davis was with the Highlander franchise at his age, but the project looks like it has been steadily moving forward in recent months.
Davis seemed determined to work on the Highlander remake, as he announced he would be working on the project back in 2008. The film has been in development since then, with several writers and directors coming in and out of the project. At one point, Justin Lin of the Fast and Furious franchise was set to direct the project, and Ryan Reynolds was previously signed on to star.
In a post from the Highlander Facebook page from 2016, Peter S. Davis discussed how he fought to get Sean Connery to play the character of Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez in Highlander. Davis said that despite his belief that Connery would be great as Ramírez, he was discouraged by everyone. Davis offered Connery $1 million for one week of work, and after Connery read and said he enjoyed the script, he signed on. Davis said that director Russell Mulcahy, “shot the shit out of it, and managed to get true value out of our million dollars.
Davis started as a lawyer on Wall Street and launched his own firm while in his 20s. Davis then came to Hollywood in 1977 to start producing. Davis’ long-time producing partner, Bill Panzer, who also worked with Davis on Highlander projects, amongst other things, died in 2007. Joshua Davis wrote that his father was an “inveterate entrepreneur whose drive led him to start companies that ranged from an exotic car dealership on the Sunset Strip to an install-at-home pole dancing supply shop.”
David was survived by his wife, Katia, his son, Joshua, daughter Danielle, and his two grandchildren.