U.N.C.L.E. movie will start filming in September, Variety says

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer as Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin (Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer
(Art by Paul Baack)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie will start filming Sept. 7, Variety said in a feature story in its print edition.

The article, by Jon Burlingame, says the movie “is an origin story that tells of the first pairing of the two spies — one American, one Russian,” a reference to the lead characters, Napeoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin. “Unlike the friendly banter of the original series, the pair are initially hostile to each other, said someone familiar with the script.” Director Guy Ritchie declined to be interviewed, according to the story.

Burlingame also reported the reason after Tom Cruise left the project, that Warner Bros. wanted the budget reduced to $75 million. Cruise’s departure opened the door for Henry Cavill to take the Solo role. Armie Hammer had already been cast as Kuryakin. Solo and Kuryakin were played by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in the original 1964-68 series.

Variety describes the movie as “a fairly serious action pic.” Recently, Variety had run ANOTHER STORY story saying the movie’s budget had been cut but provided no details.

The new story appeared in Variety’s print edition and doesn’t appear to be online. The quotes provided here are from a photograph of the first page of the story on Burlingame’s Facebook page. Jon Burlingame is an expert in film and television music and produced U.N.C.L.E. soundtracks in the last decade.

UPDATE: Story corrected in third paragraph to say the budget was cut after Cruise left the project.

UPDATE II (6:53 p.m.): Variety now HAS PUT THE STORY ONLINE.

Much of the rest of the story concerns efforts over 35 years for some kind of new version of U.N.C.L.E. One one, the 1983 television movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was made. There is this quote from producer John Davis, who has been involved in efforts to do an U.N.C.L.E. movie since the early ’90s:

“I loved this as a kid,” he says. “It was the coolest show in the world. I had all the guns and the communication devices; I was just a fanatic.”
(snip)
The one constant throughout, Davis says, has been the Cold War setting: “The idea was that the best of all the world’s intelligence services were working to keep the world safe, with the most up-to-date technology that existed.”

UPDATE III (8:42 p.m.), Variety, in A SEPARATE STORY says actress Elizabeth Debicki has been tapped for a role in the film. No further details are mentioned.

Sony watch: investor criticizes movie unit

sonylogo

A major Sony Corp. investor has stepped up criticism of the company’s movie unit, Sony Pictures, which releases James Bond films.

The hedge fund, in its SECOND-QUARTER LETTER TO ITS INVESTORS, said Sony Pictures, part of Sony’s entertainment business, this summer had “released 2013’s versions of Waterworld and Ishtar back-to-back” with After Earth and White House Down. “From a creative point of view, we are concerned about Entertainment’s 2014 and 2015 slate, which lacks lucrative `tent pole’ franchises. Anecdotally, we understand that its development pipeline is bleak, despite overspending on numerous projects.”

Sony schedule includes Spider-Man movies for 2014, 2016 and 2018 and Bond 24 for 2015. With the Bond films, Sony splits the take with Eon Productions/Danjaq and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Sony has released the last three 007 films, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.

Third Point wants Sony to sell a piece of the U.S. entertainment business to the public. The company is considering the proposal.

In the latest letter to investors, Third Point said the entertainment unit “remains poorly managed, with a famously bloated corporate structure, generous perk packages, high salaries for underperforming senior executives, and marketing budgets that do not seem to be in line with any sense of return on capital invested.”

You can view Variety’s take on what all this means BY CLICKING HERE. You can CLICK HERE for Deadline Hollywood’s story.

UPDATE: You can also CLICK HERE for a story in the Los Angeles Times.

Cavill says he’s about to delve into U.N.C.L.E.

Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill


The Henry Cavill News fan Web site got a brief interview with the British actor about his future plans. Cavill was asked about his preparations to play Napoleon Solo in a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

“I haven’t had a chance to delve into it just yet,” Cavill said. “I’ve been dealing with the press stuff.” That’s an apparent reference to doing publicity for Man of Steel and last weekend’s announcement at the big San Diego comic book convention of a Superman-Batman movie in 2015.

In THIS VIDEO ON YOUTUBE (staring around the 1:00 mark), Cavill says he’ll get into full U.N.C.L.E. preparations when he returns to England. The U.N.C.L.E. movie, to be directed by Guy Ritchie, is to be based in the U.K.

Meanwhile, David Allcock, who worked in the art department of Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies, says on his Web site that Oliver Scholl is the production designer for the U.N.C.L.E. movie.

The IMDB.COM PAGE FOR THE MOVIE has been updated in recent weeks, mostly with credits for the art department. It doesn’t list Scholl as of July 26. IMDB.com, like Wikipedia.org, relies on volunteers for information.

The U.N.C.L.E. movie is supposed to start filming sometime in September.

HMSS’s favorite character actors: Robert Drivas

Robert Drivas, as Morgan Midas, struggles with Robert Conrad's James West

Robert Drivas in The Wild, Wild West

One in an occasional series

Robert Drivas had a talent for playing characters who seemed normal on the outside but were wound just a little tight on the inside.

In the first season of The Wild, Wild West, Drivas portrayed Morgan Midas, who had a rather ambitious scheme. He stole diamonds and melted them down to create a serum that allowed him to move at super speed.

The episode, The Night of the Burning Diamond, written by Ken Kolb, was pure fantasy, stretching the limits for a series that was often unconventional. But Drivas was an engrossing villain, one who often dominated the scenes where he appeared.

Drivas appeared in a number of episodes of Quinn Martin-produced shows. One of his best performances was in a two-part story in The FBI. Drivas played Paul Clamenti, a man in his mid-20s with lots of issues. Clamenti’s parents had been killed as part of La Cosa Nostra violence and he was adopted by his aunt and uncle.

Problem: his uncle, Edward (Telly Savalas), was one of the chiefs of the Cosa Nostra. He also fell in love with Chris Roland (Susan Strasberg), who was the daughter of Leo Roland (Walter Pidgeon), another mob boss.

On top of all that, Paul Clamenti decided to be a hit man on the side. His specialty was to shoot his victims twice in the heart, earning him the nickname Cupid. That sounds rather melodramatic, but Drivas pulled it off, more than holding his own in scenes with old pros.

Drivas also played a key role in the only three-part story in the original Hawaii Five-O series, V is for Vashon. Drivas, by this time in his 30s, played Chris Vashon, the early 20s scion of the Vashon crime family in Hawaii.

Once again, Drivas played opposite old pros (Harold Gould as his father, Luther Adler as his grandfather) and held his own. Chris Vashon died at the end of the first installment, an event that drives the remaining parts of the story.

Drivas played a variety of parts during his career, including Loudmouth Steve in Cool Hand Luke. He died of AIDS-related cancer in 1986 at the age of 47.

U.N.C.L.E. movie budget cut, Variety says

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer as Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin (Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill, right, and Armie Hammer
(Art by Paul Baack)

The budget for a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was cut by Warner Bros., according to Variety, which didn’t provide any specifics.

The entertainment news site carried THIS STORY about actress Rose Byrne being in talks for a remake of Annie. There was this reference later:

Byrne is also in consideration for a role in “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” but sources say the budget was cut on the film and it may have been hard to finalize a deal if an offer was presented to Byrne.

Production on U.N.C.L.E. has been reported to be gearing up in the U.K. but Warners hasn’t made an official announcement. Henry Cavill, who has said he’ll be playing Napoleon Solo in U.N.C.L.E., was at the big San Diego comic book convention last weekend, but didn’t mention U.N.C.L.E. The big Warner Bros. out of that event was the announcement of a Superman-Batman movie in 2015, with Cavill reprising his role as Superman.

Given a number of recent big-budget flops, such as The Lone Ranger (whose cast includes Armie Hammer, slated to play Illya Kuryakin) and R.I.P.D., some caution would be in order. Also, there have been executive changes at Warners. Perhaps The Man From U.N.C.L.E. curse hasn’t been lifted yet.

Two questions to pass the time

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

The dog days of summer have arrived, so here are a couple of questions to pass the time until actual news pops up later.

Will Ian Fleming get some kind of credit if the U.N.C.L.E. movie gets made?

Ian Fleming’s contributions to the final version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. aren’t that many, but he did co-create the character of Napoleon Solo with producer Norman Felton. Still, the movie is to be made at Warner Bros., which often doesn’t give out credits unless it’s contractually obligated.

For example, since 1989, Warners has made seven Batman movies. Each carries a credit that Batman was created by Bob Kane. But it’s pretty much established that writer Bill Finger contributed at least as much, if not more (changing Batman’s mask to a cowl, the Bruce Wayne secret identity and the Bruce Wayne back story, among other things) to the Batman mythos.

Nor does Warners credit artists and writers who created other characters or stories that figure into the films. One semi-exception was how artist Jerry Robinson, the creator of the Joker, got a consultant credit in 2008’s The Dark Knight (it doesn’t appear until about two hours and 31 minutes into the movie). The 2011 Green Lantern movie didn’t credit John Broome or Gil Kane, who in 1959 that version of the character. The ’59 version, in turn, was based on a different character with similar powers created in 1940 by Bill Finger (him again) and artist Martin Nodell.

On the other hand, citing Ian Fleming might be an interesting talking point for marketing, even though Fleming wasn’t mentioned in the original show. But Fleming’s heirs don’t have a financial incentive because Fleming, under pressure from Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, signed away all his U.N.C.L.E. rights in June 1963.

The odds would appear to be against a Fleming credit in an U.N.C.L.E. film. In 1983, The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television movie had credits for Norman Felton (“based on the series originally presented by”) and Sam Rolfe (“based upon the series developed by”), the latter who created most of the show’s format.

Will Disney/Marvel blink and move Ant-Man’s 2015 release date? Walt Disney Co. and its Marvel unit were the first to claim the Nov. 6, 2015 release date in the U.S. for Ant Man, the first Marvel film to come out after The Avengers sequel in May 2015. Earlier this month, however, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures said Bond 24 would make its U.S. debut on that date, two weeks after it comes out in the U.K.

Disney doesn’t normally back down but Ant Man isn’t the most famous Marvel character with the general public by a long shot. Does Marvel really want Ant Man to go head-to-head with James Bond? You have to wonder if Disney and Marvel will have second thoughts.

MI6 Confidential examines Octopussy’s 30th anniversary

miconfidential21

MI6 Confidential, for its 21st issue, takes a look at Octopussy on its 30th anniversary.

Included in the issue is a forward by Roger Moore; an examination of how the screenplay evolved; interviews with director John Glen and cast members Maud Adams, who played the title character, Kristina Wayborn and Kabir Bedi; and a story about the television movie The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E., which featured a cameo by ex-007 George Lazenby as “JB,” and debuted on U.S. television two months before Octopussy arrived in theaters.

The magazine costs seven British pounds, $11 or 8.50 Euros. For more information about the issue and ordering information, CLICK HERE

EARLIER POSTS:
OCTOPUSSY’S 30TH: BATTLE OF THE BONDS ROUND 1

RETURN OF THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.’S 30TH ANNIVERSARY