UPDATE: Can Henry Cavill do U.N.C.L.E. sequels?

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

Adapted and updated from a June post.

File this under “getting ahead of yourself.” Still, at major companies, people are paid to think about various future scenarios. So…

Back in June we posed the question if The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie is a success, will the lead actor be able to do any sequels?

Warner Bros. IN AN OCT. 15 PRESS RELEASE said it plans on keeping Henry Cavill busy playing Superman.

In addition to the current Batman-Superman movie now in production, Warners said it plans a two-part Justice League movie with Cavill as Superman as well as another Superman solo film the actor.

The studio also controls U.N.C.L.E. and has a movie in post-production which will be released in August 2015.

As we stated a few months ago, you have to wonder if Cavill will have enough time to do future U.N.C.L.E. films. He played Napoleon Solo in the U.N.C.L.E. movie.

The Batman-Superman movie, which amounts to a preview of the Justice League, is scheduled to be released in March 2016. Warner Bros. says Justice League Part one will be released in 2017 and Justice League Part Two will be out in 2019. The studio didn’t disclose a planned release date for Cavill’s second solo Superman movie. The actor first played the character in 2013’s Man of Steel.

Superhero movies involve a lot of special effects and long shooting schedules. Even if Cavill signed an U.N.C.L.E. contract that secured his services for sequels, you have to wonder if he’ll have any time to squeeze future Solo adventures into his schedule.

The U.N.C.L.E. movie was shot over three months. Compare that to Skyfall, the most recent James Bond movie, that had a seven-month shooting schedule.

Again, this is looking way ahead. The U.N.C.L.E. movie hardly is assured of being a hit. It doesn’t have the name recognition of the comic book characters from Marvel and DC that are populating movies.

Still, it is something to keep in mind as events unfold in the months ahead. Whatever contracts Cavill has signed, Superman-Justice League movies are a top priority for Warner Bros. U.N.C.L.E., even if the movie is a financial success, is a secondary priority.

U.N.C.L.E. movie delayed to August 2015

Slow down, Solo. You're not being called up for another year.

Stand down, Solo. Mr. Warner says you can wait another seven months.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie is being delayed by seven months to Aug. 14, 2015 from Jan. 16, according to several entertainment news sites, including Deadline: Hollywood and Comingsoon.net.

The Guy Ritchie-directed film, based on the 1964-68 television series, has underwent a series of reshoots. Initially, they were being done with a second-unit crew. But Henry Cavill, who plays Napoleon Solo, traveled from the Detroit area (where a Batman-Superman film is in production) to London to participate in a reshoot along with Armie Hammer, who plays Illya Kuryakin.

Some fans were concerned about the January release date. That’s sometimes viewed as a dumping ground for movies not good enough for the end-of-the-year holiday season. Now it’s slated for a late summer slot. By the time August 2015 rolls around, it will have been 23 months since the start of principal photography. Another chapter in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. curse?

Secret Service delayed, Batman-Superman blinks

Henry Cavill in a new publicity image

Henry Cavill in a new publicity image

As was once said of Willard Whyte, it’s like playing Monopoly with real buildings.

Movie studios have shuffled their release schedules of major movies. For readers of this blog, two shifts are of note.

Kingsman: The Secret Service, directed by Matthew Vaughn, has been pushed back from October to Feb. 13, 2015, according to A STORY ON COLLIDER.COM. The film, based on a comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, has been marketing itself as embodying elements of 1960s James Bond films, as well as ’60s spy shows such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The bigger news was that Warner Bros./DC Comics blinked, avoiding a potential confrontation with Marvel Studios/Disney. Superman V. Batman: The Dawn of Justice, is now slated to come out on on March 25, 2016.

Originally, Warner Bros. wanted the Batman-Superman film to come out in July 2015. Then, it was pushed back to the first weekend of May 2016. Marvel characters have owned the first May weekend since 2008, when the first Iron Man movie debuted. For 2016, Marvel, now part of Walt Disney Co., planned a third Capt. America movie for that weekend. Nobody thought both superhero epics would come out at the same time — and they were right.

U.N.C.L.E. figures, indirectly, into both moves. The Batman-Superman film includes Henry Cavill, who plays Napoleon Solo in Warner Bros. movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., as Superman. The Secret Service — which includes some U.N.C.L.E. memes — now will come out less than a month after the U.N.C.L.E. movie’s debut in mid-January 2015.

The changed release date for the Batman-Superman film is part of a broader schedule of films that Warners/DC releases, according to the Deadline entertainment website.

UPDATE: VARIETY OFFERS AN ALTERNATE EXPLANTION for the Batman v Superman change. “(B)y moving out of May and into March, the comicbook film signals that Hollywood is opening its eyes to the fact that moviegoing can be a 12-month-a-year proposition. Now, the superhero mash-up will be the first film starring the Dark Knight not to debut during the summer, something that would have been all but unthinkable a few years ago.”

It also quotes a Warner Bros. executive as saying, “If you have a great film, people will come no matter when it’s dated.” If that’s sincere, and not just spin, perhaps U.N.C.L.E. fans might feel better about that movie’s January 2015 release date. We’ll see.

U.N.C.L.E.’s odd post-series history

"It's hard to find our show some times, Illya."

“It’s hard to find our show sometimes, Illya.”

UPDATE: The 1980s section, corrects name of network to Christian Broadcasting Network. CBN changed its name to Family Channel name after it showed U.N.C.L.E.

Also, readers (one is a comment below, the other was on Facebook) have mentioned the following: The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair, a 1986 A-Team episode with U.N.C.L.E. memes (Robert Vaughn was a regular in that show’s final season and David McCallum was the episode’s guest star) as well as a Dec. 31, 1989-Jan. 1, 1990 U.N.C.L.E. marathon on TNT.

While we’re at it, Turner Classic Movies a few years ago had a daylong marathon of the eight U.N.C.L.E. movies, with the first beginning at 6 a.m. eastern time. TCM still occasionally shows them.

With the news that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is going to be shown by MeTV in the U.S. starting next month, here’s a review of the show’s odd history after it ended its 1964-68 run on NBC.

This is by no means a definitive history. But it gives you an idea how a series that once was very popular had trouble finding an audience after its first run. The show made stars of Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, even to the point where the Beatles wanted to meet Vaughn in 1966. But later, it was as if the show disappeared.

Meanwhile, other series that were on at the time, such as Mission: Impossible and The Wild Wild West, were much easier to find on local television stations. And, of course, the original Star Trek (which shared many of the same guest stars as U.N.C.L.E.) became a broad pop culture event while in syndication.

Circa 1968-1969: For a period, U.N.C.L.E. could be seen in syndication. An Indianapolis independent station showed U.N.C.L.E. (Both Man and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.) Monday through Friday in an afternoon time slot.

However, this did not last that long. In general, there was a concern about violence on television and this perhaps affected U.N.C.L.E. For whatever reason, U.N.C.L.E. soon became virtually invisible.

1970s: The best chance to see U.N.C.L.E. was when one of the eight “movies” — re-edited from series episodes — popped up on local television. In the `1970s, I caught To Trap a Spy (an expanded version of the series pilot) on a local television station. CBS even showed The Spy With My Face, an expanded version of the first-season episode The Double Affair, on the CBS Late Movie. At the time, CBS didn’t have its own viable late-night show and was content to show movies starting at 11:30 p.m. eastern time.

1980s: In the early 1980s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which made the series in association with producer Norman Felton’s Arena Productions, dusted off U.N.C.L.E. The studio made a renewed syndication push. The original MGM logs at the end of episodes were removed and new ones added.

In 1985, the Christian Broadcasting Network — controlled by tele-evangelist Pat Robertson — showed The Man From U.N.C.L.E. at 11 p.m. eastern time in the U.S. But for the CBN debut,the channel skipped over the entire black-and-white first season. Its first telecast was The Arabian Affair from the second season.

By the spring or summer of 1986, CBN showed all but four episodes: the two-part Alexander the Greater Affair and The Very Important Zombie Affair from the second season and The Abominable Snowman Affair from the third. The latter two weren’t shown, reportedly because of their un-Christian content (voodoo with Very Important Zombie, depictions of Eastern religions in Snowman). As for Alexander the Greater, it turned out nobody could find it. More about that shortly.

Meanwhile, there were changes behind the scenes. Television mogul Ted Turner bought MGM, primarily to gain control of its film library, including classic films such as Gone With the Wind and Ben-Hur. But Turner borrowed heavily for the purchase. So he sold the studio, while keeping the film library — which also included U.N.C.L.E.

Thus, in 1988, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was part of TNT’s Saturday morning (and later Saturday afternoon) programming. TNT telecast Very Important Zombie and Abominable Snowman shortly thereafter.

1990s: By the mid-1990s, U.N.C.L.E. shows up in the early-morning hours of Tuesday (technically part of its Monday schedule). In 1999, a Turner employee finds Alexander the Greater. The two-part story was telecast July 4, 2000, the last U.N.C.L.E. telecast on the cable network. In the interim, Turner has sold out to Time Warner, whose Warner Bros. now controls the show.

NBC had never rerun Alexander the Greater. So the TNT telecast was the first time the television version had been seen since September 1965. Until then, only the movie version, One Spy Too Many, had been available.

In 1999, TV Land had a “spy week” promotion in connection with the second Austin Powers movie. Four episodes each of The Man and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. are shown on separate nights, along with series such as It Takes a Thief and The Avengers. For Man, four first-season episodes are telecast. (Girl only ran one season, making selection easier.) TNT, around the same time, showed some episodes of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. in connection with the birthday of star Stefanie Powers.

21st century: Both The Man and Girl From U.N.C.L.E. have shown up on other cable channels but don’t enjoy a lot of visibility.

In 2007, the series is released on DVD, initially by Time-Life. The original MGM logo at the end of episodes was restored. Within a few years, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. and the eight U.N.C.L.E. movies are released by Warner Archive, the manufactured-on-demand arm of Warner Bros.

MeTV picking up The Man From U.N.C.L.E. comes just ahead of the show’s 50th anniversary as well as a movie version of the show coming in January.

Cavill, Hammer return to U.K. for U.N.C.L.E., fan site says

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer have returned to England for some reshoots for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, ACCORDING TO A POST AT THE HENRY CAVILL NEWS WEBSITE.

The post includes a photo that Hammer’s wife posted on Instagram. It also includes a non-spoiler exchange with an extra who doubled for Cavill for some of the previous reshoots of the Guy Ritchie-directed film.

The post also raises a bit of problem. Cavill, who plays Napoleon Solo in the movie, was already beginning to get pumped up during last year’s U.N.C.L.E. shoot to reprise the role of Superman in Batman v. Superman: The Dawn of Justice. According to the post, the actor was already having trouble fitting in his wardrobe before the end of principal U.N.C.L.E. photography in early December 2013. Cavill has been filming the superhero movie in the Detroit area for a few months, so wardrobe may be more of an issue now.

The U.N.C.L.E. movie is scheduled to debut in January 2015. Warner Bros. had test screenings of the movie in June.

‘Mr. Warner, when does U.N.C.L.E. get some publicity?’

Henry Cavill in a new publicity image

Henry Cavill in a new publicity image

This past week, Warner Bros. unleashed some publicity images for a movie involving actor Henry Cavill — a movie that won’t be out for 22 months.

That film, of course, is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, due out in May 2016. Warners released a new publicity image of Cavill as Superman. Various outlets bit on doing stories, including Forbes.com and USA Today. The movie currently is in production.

Meanwhile, Cavill has done another Warners feature. By comparison, the studio is in radio silence concerning the film. That project is a film version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is due in a little more than six months, in mid-January 2015.

Long-time U.N.C.L.E. fans have a mixed reaction. Some would like to see a new take on the 1964-68 television series. Others wished the studio would have left well enough alone. Either way, there’s a feeling of disrespect. Robert Vaughn, who played Napoleon Solo in the series (the role Cavill played in the film), says he wasn’t asked to do a cameo. That rubbed some fans the wrong way.

What it comes down to is business. Warners is looking to Batman v Superman as the precursor to a Justice League movie, where a group of super heroes combine their forces. The studio watched as Disney/Marvel had a huge hit with 2012’s The Avengers and the owners of the WB shield want in on that kind of action.

The U.N.C.L.E. film, meanwhile, is more of a back door operation. Warners would, of course, like it to be a hit. But it has bet a relatively modest sum, if $75 million can be called modest. That’s less money that, say, the first Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes film. That 2009 project, which, like U.N.C.L.E., was directed by Guy Ritchie, had an estimated budget of $95 million. Of course, Downey, fresh off 2008’s Iron Man, was a star. It remains to be seen whether Cavill is a star beyond 2013’s Man of Steel.

Warners has a lot invested in its superhero properties (its parent company owns DC Comics). It’s also trying to play catch up with Disney/Marvel’s machine-like output of films.

Also, Superman has more name recognition among the general public than U.N.C.L.E. does. Christopher Reeve did four Superman films from 1978 to 1987, Warners has produced various Superman TV projects, a 2006 movie and Man of Steel. There hasn’t been an U.N.C.L.E. production since a 1983 television movie. The first-generation U.N.C.L.E. fan base isn’t getting any younger.

Put another way, leveraging DC characters is a top priority for the studio. U.N.C.L.E.? Not so much.

For better or worse, U.N.C.L.E. fans are going to have to wait to see what Cavill and Ritchie have done with U.N.C.L.E.

If U.N.C.L.E. is a success, can Cavill do sequels?

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

File this under “getting ahead of yourself.” Still, at major companies, people are paid to think about various future scenarios. So…

If The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, scheduled to debut in January 2015, is a success, will the lead even be able to do any sequels?

Warner Bros. evidently plans on keeping Henry Cavill busy playing Superman. The studio also controls U.N.C.L.E., but you still have to wonder if the actor will have enough time to do future U.N.C.L.E. films. He played Napoleon Solo in the U.N.C.L.E. movie that’s now in post-production.

Here’s what prompts the question:

Nikki Finke, the founder of the Deadline: Hollywood website, is now on her own and has started A NEW WEBSITE. She has a history of scoops that have been proven to be true, such as Sam Mendes being in talks to direct Skyfall and John Logan being hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25.

In one of her posts on the new site, Finke reported that Warner Bros. plans in the way of superhero movies. It’s already known that Warners is planning a Batman-Superman movie for May 2016 (it’s currently in production) and a Justice League film for 2017.

According to Finke, the studio also wants another solo Superman movie for May 2018. (She also says Warners plans several other superhero projects as it tries to catch up with Disney’s Marvel Studios.) Cavill first played the character in 2013’s Man of Steel.

If Finke is right, you’ve got to wonder if Cavill would have the time to do an U.N.C.L.E. sequel. Superhero movies involve a lot of special effects and long shooting schedules.

The U.N.C.L.E. movie had a tight, three-month shooting schedule — probably in part to make sure Cavill could beef up in time to do the Batman-Superman film. Compare that to Skyfall, the most recent James Bond movie, that had a seven-month shooting schedule.

Again, this is looking way ahead. The U.N.C.L.E. movie hardly is assured of being a hit. It doesn’t have the name recognition of the comic book characters from Marvel and DC that are populating movies.

Considering the seeming curse whether there’d even be an U.N.C.L.E. movie, it’s remarkable there’s even a film to watch. Even then, some fans don’t like the idea of a movie, preferring there never, ever be any more versions of the original 1964-68 series.

Still, it is something to keep in mind as events unfold in the months ahead.

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