‘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.

Who’s the (not so) new writer on the U.N.C.L.E. movie?

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt


The IMDB.COM ENTRY for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. lists a new name on the list of writers: Jeffrey Hatcher, a playwright with a list of a dozen television, video and movie credits.

It’s hard to consider him a “new” writer on the project given it completed production in December. Presumably, Hatcher performed his work before production commenced, but there’s simply no additional information. Also, given how entries in IMDB can change based on member input, it’s unclear the source of the information..

The official Sept. 3 Warner Bros. press release doesn’t mention Hatcher. It says the movie’s screenplay is by director Guy Ritchie and his producing partner Lionel Wigram.

It’s certainly possible the final writing credit will change before the final release because of Writer’s Guild rules. For example, it’s not known whether Sam Rolfe, who developed the original show, will get a credit the way, say, Bruce Geller, creator of Mission: Impossible, receives on M:I movies.

Hatcher’s list of IMDB credits begins with a 1998 Columbo made-for-television movie. His IMDB entry lists some of his plays.

Meanwhile, a (pretty breathless) video showed up on YouTube that provides a primer about the movie. Not a lot new, but given how the film won’t be out until January 2015, it’s presented here.

U.N.C.L.E.’s director of photography talks up Cavill’s Solo

Henry Cavill's Napoleon Solo reports for duty in January 2015

Henry Cavill’s Napoleon Solo

Thanks to C.W. Walker for the heads up.

The man who photographed next year’s movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has made public comments about Henry Cavill’s version of Napoleon Solo, according to THE INDEPENDENT IN IRELAND.

John Mathieson, the movie’s director of photography, commented about Cavill’s performance and Guy Ritchie’s work as director.

Here’s an excerpt:

Speaking at the launch of the new Samsung Curved UHD screen TV in London he said: “I thought Henry was terrific.

“He plays it quite humorously, everything’s slightly quirky, slightly sharp. It was very comic strip in some ways, I mean that in a good way.

“He plays it very differently [to Superman], this is much more earthbound. He’s a peacock, and he’s very funny. I thought he was great.”

(snip)

(I)t’s got a very British feel….We filmed in London on a digital camera but we were trying to give it more of a sixties feel.

“It’s a very good looking film, it’s set in the sixties, it’s very chic.”

Mathieson also said that Ritchie is “still cutting, he’s very close to finishing….We’ve got to do some post production to get that sixties look really right.”

None of this is startling. Crew members rarely talk down on a movie before it’s released. But there hasn’t been much U.N.C.L.E. publicity since the film completed shooting in early December.

The movie has been given a January 2015 release date by Warner Bros. Ritchie’s version, which he co-wrote with Lionel Wigram, is set in the early 1960s and depicts the origin of U.N.C.L.E. The original Warners’ press release said that Solo was a CIA agent and Illya Kuryakin a KGB operative involved in a joint operation. Armie Hammer has the Kuryakin role in the movie.

The original 1964-68 series, starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, downplayed Cold War references.

Earlier this week, some reshoots were filmed of a car chase, something that @laneyboggs2001 at Twitter had sniffed out. The main actors weren’t involved. Cavill is currently in Michigan for production of a Superman-Batman movie scheduled for release in May 2016.

The FBI season 7: end of an era

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

The seventh season of The FBI is now available from Warner Archive arm of Warner Bros. It would be the last season produced while J. Edgar Hoover, the long-time FBI director, was still alive.

Hoover never appeared on camera per se, but he still had a presence in the series. It might be in the form of an anxious secretary holding a telephone (“It’s MISTER HOOVER!”). It might be in the form of a cocky chess champion who has been persuaded to help out the bureau after emerging from what’s supposed to be Hoover’s office (“That quite a man in there.”). It might be in the form of the seeming omnipresent Hoover portraits in FBI offices or photographs on the desks of FBI agents.

Hoover had been instrumental in the series coming together, seeing it as a chance to promote the bureau’s image. He had an annual meeting with series star Efrem Zimbalist Jr. The bureau reportedly had veto power over casting of guest stars. Hoover was also thanked, by name, in the end titles.

There was occasional tension between the bureau and executive producer Quinn Martin (you can CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from the book Quinn Martin, producer to read more). But overall, Hoover had little reason to be displeased.

The seventh season of The FBI ran from Sept. 12, 1971, through March 19, 1972. Less than two months later, Hoover died at the age of 77. The show would run another two years but it wouldn’t quite be the same.

After Hoover’s death, FBI activity such as domestic spying and amassing large files on politicians came to light. There have been periodic attempts to take his name off FBI headquarters in Washington, but they haven’t been successful.

As for as the seventh season, it would be the final one to have a two-part episode. It would include familiar faces from previous seasons as guest stars (Bradford Dillman, Steve Inhat, Robert Drivas and Ralph Meeker) as well as actors who wouldn’t become famous until years later (Mark Hamill). It costs $49.95 and only ships in the U.S. For more information about ordering, CLICK HERE.

Search now available on home video

Search's main title logo

Search’s main title logo

Search, a spy-ish series that lasted only one season on NBC, is now available on home video in the U.S. through Warner Archive, Warner Bros.’s manufactured on demand arm.

The show ran during the 1972-73 season and featured the exploits of operatives of the World Securities Corp. Here’s an excerpt of the series description:

Hugh O’Brian, Doug McClure and Tony Franciosa rotate leads as elite high tech espionage operatives for Probe Division of World Securities Corporation in this spy-sensational SF-flavored actioner… Each agent, dubbed a “Probe”, is wired up for worldwide surveillance thanks to their Scanners (miniature video cams) and dental/ ear implants. Tracking their telemetry and giving real-time mission advice is the team of specialists gathered together at Probe Control under the direction of the brilliant, irascible V.C.R. Cameron (Burgess Meredith). O’Brian plays Lockwood, Probe One, ex-astronaut and lead agent, McClure plays CR Grover, Standby Probe, brilliant beachcomber goofball and Franciosa plays Nick Bianco, Omega Probe, street savvy ex-NYC cop tasked with organized crime capers.

The series was created by Leslie Stevens, who had created The Outer Limits. The pilot was a television movie called Probe, but either Warner Bros. (which made the series) or NBC decided Search was a more appealing name.

Members of the production team had previously worked on the original Star Trek series and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Robert H. Justman, who had been associate producer on Trek (and had worked on The Outer Limits as well) was producer of the first half of the series. Anthony Spinner, the fourth-season U.N.C.L.E. producer was initially the story editor and took over as producer.

The price is $49.95 and you can find more information on ordering by CLICKING HERE.

Tweaked U.N.C.L.E. insignia shows up on Twitter

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt

Thanks to @laneyboggs2001 on Twitter for the heads up.

An image of a revamped U.N.C.L.E. insignia has SHOWN UP ON TWITTER in the form of a photo of a second unit crew T-shirt.

It’s very similar to the logo used in the 1964-68 series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. But with the new insignia, the “Man” image has been revamped to more closely resemble Henry Cavill, who plays Napoleon Solo in the movie filmed last year. Robert Vaughn played the role in the ’60s series and a 1983 television movie.

The new logo’s Man wears a three-piece suit while the original Man was clad in a basic suit. Also, the gun the Man is holding appears to be slightly different than the original.

It’s not known if the crew T-shirt logo will actually be used to market the new movie. Warner Bros. hasn’t yet announced a release date for the Guy Ritchie-directed film.

Henry Cavill finishes work on U.N.C.L.E. movie

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Henry Cavill has wrapped up work as Napoleon Solo on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie and the fans who followed the movie the most closely got the word out on social media.

It began when Urban Food Fest, a U.K. food vendor for corporate events, today POSTED ON TWITTER photos of a party for the 30-year-old actor at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, the home base for the $75 million production.

That was quickly picked up by (in alphabetical order) Henry Cavill News, Henry Cavill.org and @laneyboggs2001 on Twitter, all of whom have kept a close watch on developments of the U.N.C.L.E. movie. The photos spread quickly via social media.

Cavill will now get some time off before beginning work on a Superman-Batman project that starts filming in early 2014 for a summer 2015 release. Meanwhile, the Guy Ritchie-directed U.N.C.L.E. movie is expected to complete filming early next month, with Armie Hammer, playing Illya Kuryakin, still having some scenes to finish up.

UPDATE: Another PHOTO SHOWED UP VIA TWITTER of a studio visitor pass related to the Cavill party today.

UPDATE II (5 p.m.): The Urban Food Fest post on Twitter was later deleted.

UPDATE III (5:50 p.m.): Luca Calvani, who plays the movie’s villain, POSTED ON TWITTER in response to Henry Cavill.org that he has one more week of work. “We wrap the movie on Saturday.” Presumably, that means production ends on Dec. 7.

The UNCLE film began principal photography on Sept. 6, meaning the shoot will have lasted almost exactly three months. By comparison, the most recent James Bond film, Skyfall, had a seven month shoot (November 2011 to June 2012). The UNCLE movie has a reported $75 million budget, less than half of Skyfall’s $200 million.

U.N.C.L.E. and the crowded U.K. filming scene

U.N.C.L.E. insignia from a second-season episode

U.N.C.L.E. insignia from a second-season episode

The Los Angeles Times has A STORY TODAY about the booming U.K. movie industry. One of the people interviewed is Guy Ritchie, director of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie and an old hand at filming movies in England.

An excerpt from the end of the story:

Like others, English director Guy Ritchie, who has made two Sherlock Holmes movies for Warner Bros. in Britain and is now at work on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E,” is noticing his home turf getting more crowded. While shooting a car chase at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, which he had also used in his 2005 film, “Revolver,” and in “Sherlock Holmes,” Ritchie noted that the location has popped up in several other movies, including “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Skyfall” and “Les Miserables.”

“Maybe the novelty will wear off,” Ritchie said. “I quite like it, because I can go home at night. I don’t know who the chap is that got this going. Whoever he is, I’d like to take him out for a drink.”

The U.N.C.L.E. movie is based out of Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden. The site is a former factory converted into a movie studio for the production of 1995’s GoldenEye. Warner Bros. used Leavesden to film the Harry Potter movies. Warner Bros. bought the studio in 2010. Warners spent more than 100 million British pounds to rebuild and expand the studio, according to the official website for Leavesden tours.

The Los Angeles Times story by Rebecca Keegan provides details of how the movie boom came about, including tax incentives, the country’s ” tungsten northern light,” and work rules that appeal to studio bosses. The story also references a number of current and upcoming U.K.-based films. The list includes the next Star Wars film that will be shot at Pinewood Studios, the tradition home for James Bond films. To read the entire story, CLICK HERE.

Separately, the Henry Cavill News fan website PUBLISHED A POST of photos shot by a fan identified as marliimarl_ of an U.N.C.L.E. boat chase with stars Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer participating. The post includes a couple of videos that Henry Cavill News also uploaded to YouTube.

McCallum might be too busy for U.N.C.L.E. movie cameo

David McCallum in 1965 publicity still with Thrush women, including Sharon Tate

David McCallum in 1965 publicity still with Thrush women, including Sharon Tate

Thanks to @Laneyboggs2001 who pointed out the Omaha article to this blog via Twitter.

David McCallum, the original Illya Kuryakin and who was scheduled to be in Omaha ON NOV. 9 for a special showing of The Great Escape, gave an INTERVIEW to the Omaha World Herald. The interview suggests, but doesn’t definitively say, he might be too busy to do a cameo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.

The 80-year-old actor is busy on the NCIS series, a Los Angeles-based production, while the movie’s home base is Warner Bros. Leavesden studio in the U.K. Here’s an excerpt:

Q. What’s the shooting schedule like?

A: It’s an eight-day shoot (for each episode). This week I’m on set four of eight days. I’ve done 7.5. Normally it’s two or three.
(snip)

Q. What’s life like when you’re not shooting the series or jetting off to Omaha?

A. There’s not much else. I do get to New York to see my children and grandchildren. It’s a busy world, and I’m a busy person. I also do voiceover work for video games and cartoons.

Q. Any projects on the horizon you want to talk about?

A. I’ve got 18 or 19 more “NCIS” shows to do (this season). That’s pretty much it.

If there was an NCIS episode where McCallum’s Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard character doesn’t appear that much, the actor could conceivably jet over for an U.N.C.L.E. cameo. However, time is starting to draw short; the Guy Ritchie-directed U.N.C.L.E. movie, starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, will wrap production sometime next month.

Of course, if the cameo were voice over only, the logistics might be less complicated. Also, it’s possible the actor is simply being cagey.

Robert Vaughn, who played Napoleon Solo in the 1964-68 series, said in AN OCTOBER BIRMINGHAM MAIL STORY he had gotten feelers about a cameo. Vaughn is already in the U.K. for a stage production of 12 Angry Men. There’s been no news whether a Vaughn cameo has, or will, occur.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 133 other followers