The Punisher is a 2004 American vigilante action film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, starring Thomas Jane as the antihero Frank Castle/The Punisher and John Travolta as Howard Saint, a money launderer who orders the death of Castle's entire family.
The film's story and plot were mainly based on two Punisher comic book stories: The Punisher: Year One and Welcome Back, Frank, along with scenes from other Punisher stories such as Marvel Preview Presents: The Punisher #2, Marvel Super Action Featuring: The Punisher #1, The Punisher War Zone, and The Punisher War Journal. The Punisher was shot on location in Tampa, Florida, and surrounding environs in mid to late 2003. It was distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment in North America, although Artisan Entertainment, which produced a 1989 film adaptation of The Punisher, financed and co-distributed the film with eventual Artisan owner Lionsgate, while Columbia Pictures distributed the film in non-North American countries. Screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh agreed to helm the film during its development stage despite a dispute with Marvel Studios, marking his directorial debut.
The film was released on April 16, 2004, by Lionsgate, grossing $13 million in the United States over its opening weekend, and reached a total gross of $54 million against a budget of $33 million. It has a 29% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Marvel Comics and Lionsgate began development on a sequel, The Punisher 2, which instead became the 2008 reboot Punisher: War Zone after Jane and Hensleigh left the project due to creative differences. This would be the final film produced by Artisan Entertainment.