What we know and don’t know about the U.N.C.L.E. movie

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie is days away from finishing principal photography. So here’s a quick look at some of what’s know and not known about the project.

It’s a (relatively) lean production: The movie has a production budget of about $75 million, according to a
JULY STORY IN VARIETY BY JON BURLINGAME.

That’s hardly pocket change and a bigger budget than independent dramas. But it’s also noticeably less than Skyfall, the most recent James Bond movie ($200 million); R.I.P.D. ($130 million); The Lone Ranger ($215 million); and Man of Steel ($225 million).

Then again, a big budget is hardly a guarantee of success. Skyfall was a hit and Man of Steel (with Henry Cavill, the U.N.C.L.E. movie’s Napoleon Solo, playing Superman) did well enough to proceed with a sequel. R.I.P.D. and The Lone Ranger (with Armie Hammer, the U.N.C.L.E. movie’s Illya Kuryakin, as the title character although the star was Johnny Depp’s Tonto) were bombs. That’s especially true of R.I.P.D. a comedy with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds that generated total worldwide ticket sales of $78.3 million, which was split with theaters.

It was a (relatively) tightly scheduled shoot: The U.N.C.L.E. movie began filming on Sept. 6. It will finish on Dec. 7, according to A TWEET by Luca Calvani, who play’s the film’s villain. That’s almost exactly three months. By comparison, Skyfall had a seven-month filming schedule from late 2011 through mid-2012.

There will be humor; the question is how much: Cavill signed on as a late replacement for Tom Cruise to play Solo. He said U.N.C.L.E. would have “DRY HUMOR.” The 30-year-old actor described himself as liking dry humor but not a fan of slapstick humor.

One fear of first-generation U.N.C.L.E. fans is there would be too much humor, which happened during THE THIRD SEASON of the original 1964-68 series. One sign that may not be the case: Entertainment Weekly DESCRIBED a scene where Calvani attacks Cavill “savagely,” kicking him in the “bollocks.” That never happened during U.N.C.L.E.’s sometimes goofy third season.

A broken record (by this blog), but who’s going to be the composer? One of the biggest unknowns still remains who will be the movie’s composer.

Hans Zimmer, who worked on director Guy Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes movies, has said he probably doesn’t have time given other commitments. Jerry Goldsmith, who composed the distinctive U.N.C.L.E. theme, died in 2004. Music is always an important consideration and there’s still no clue who will handle those chores for the new U.N.C.L.E. movie.

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.

Quantum of Solace’s revisionist history continues

quantum-of-solace-international-poster

Marc Forster picked up A CAMERIMAGE AWARD last week in Poland. In AN INTERVIEW with Empire magazine, the subject of Quantum of Solace came up — and Forster’s comments didn’t exactly match up with what he said during production.

Excerpt from Empire:

So after that, Quantum Of Solace must’ve seemed like a walk in the park.
Not quite a walk in the park (laughs). Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson are great producers, the best I’ve ever worked with – fantastic. So you have a well-oiled machine and you’re in such good hands, even though you don’t have a script (laughs). It makes it easier, even when you only have half a script. That was the problem there. You had Casino Royale, which came from the best book by Ian Fleming, and three or four years to develop the script. You have Skyfall, another three years to develop a script. We were in the middle – ‘Here, three months, make a movie.’ And as a director you can only do as much as you have on the page.

In that case, why did you take it on?
Because I believed the script would come. But it never did! (Laughs). At one point I felt like pulling out but I didn’t. Barbara and Michael and Eon wanted to make the movie and I thought we’d pull it off.
(emphasis added to Forster quotes)

In 2008, Forster told a much different story to THE ROTTEN TOMATOES WEBSITE. Among other things, Forster said then that the Quantum script was mostly ironed out before a 2007 Writer’s Guild strike. “The good thing is that Paul (Haggis, the screenwriter) and I and Daniel (Craig) all worked on the script before the strike happened and got it where we were pretty happy with.”

In the same interview, Forster said there was a script when he first came on board, but he tossed it out and things started from scratch. Forster said he conferred with Haggis, “And I said to him these are the topics I am interested in this is what I would like to say.”

This, of course, isn’t the first instance or revisionist history with the 2008 James Bond film. Daniel Craig also drastically changed his tune in 2011 compared with what he said in 2008.

The main talking point now is that the 2007 writer’s strike damaged the production and everybody soldiered on as best as they could.

For Forster, that’s convenient because he can ignore his contributions to the problem — throwing out a script and starting over from scratch and his emphasis on “topics” rather than a story.

Forster didn’t specify the topics to Rotton Tomatoes. In another 2008 interview, NEW YORK MAGAZINE, he talked about sneaking political ideas past the Bond producers into the movie. “I question the role that these Secret Service agencies play today—is their role really to protect the country? Or the interest of a few?” Forster told New York five years ago.

Earlier posts:
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED WITH THE SCRIPT OF QUANTUM OF SOLACE? (December 2011)

DANIEL CRAIG, 2008 AND 2011 VERSIONS (December 2011)

QUANTUM OF SOLACE’S POLITICAL POINT OF VIEW (March 2012)

Lewis Collins, Professionals star who tried out for 007, dies

Lewis Collins, a star of the British television series The Professionals, has died at 67, according to obituaries by THE BBC and the DAILY MAIL. He also unsuccessfully tried out to play James Bond in the early 1980s.

The Professionals, created by Brian Clemens, concerned operatives of CI5, which was assigned to combat terrorism and other major crimes. Collins played William Bodie, a former paratrooper and SAS soldier who had a “rule-free approach to policing,” according to the Daily Mail’s obituary.

Both obits reference how Collins auditioned for the part of 007 in 1982, when it appeared Roger Moore might have departed the role for good. Each obit references a quote where Broccoli is supposed to have found Collins “too aggressive” to play Bond. Here’s the key passage in the BBC obituary:

“I was in Albert R Broccoli’s office for five minutes, but it was really over for me in seconds,” he is reported to have said.

“He’s expecting another Connery to walk through the door and there are few of them around.”

UPDATE (3:10 p.m.): The BBC has AN INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR IAN SHARP who worked with Collins a number of times. Sharp had this to say about Collins’s 007 audition:

Everybody agrees Lewis would have made a great James Bond. He had all the right qualities: He had the looks, he had the humour, he didn’t take himself too seriously.

(snip)
These days people would grab him with both hands. In those days, they wanted the smoothie type, like Roger Moore and, if you like, he was a Daniel Craig in a Roger Moore era.

Thanks to @bondmemes for pointing out the Ian Sharp interview on Twitter.

A modest proposal for the U.N.C.L.E. movie

Introduction used in episodes 2-7 of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Introduction used in early U.N.C.L.E. episodes.

Not that director Guy Ritchie would ask this blog’s opinion, but here’s a modest proposal for a way to end his movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

A caveat: this suggestion presupposes that Ritchie’s movie won’t be really, really dark and have Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) or Illya Kuraykin (Armie Hammer) killed off with the villains winning.

In many movies today, there isn’t a proper main titles. Instead, everything comes at the end. Also, Ritchie’s film, co-written by the director and writer-producer Lionel Wigram, has an “origin of U.N.C.L.E.” plot line. Therefore, why not adapt the introduction used in early episodes of the 1964-68 series to get viewers familiar with the characters and format?

Specifically, an announcer begins, “In New York City…on a street in the East Forties…there’s an ordinary tailor shop. Or is it ordinary?” Stars Robert Vaughn and David McCallum go through the secret entrance to U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. Eventually, Solo and Kuryakin (and boss Alexander Waverly, played by Leo G. Carroll), break the fourth wall and explain what U.N.C.L.E. is.

In the movie, viewers will have seen the U.S. and Soviet Union join forces, in the person of Cavill’s Solo and Hammer’s Kurykin, to (presumably) defeat a larger menace. Your could have the screen go dark for a second, then come up again with the now permanent allies re-enacting the Vaughn-McCallum opening (along with Hugh Grant as the new Waverly), followed by Jerry Goldsmith’s theme and the credits. It would hint of adventures to come (particularly if the movie is a financial success).

Anyway, just something to thing about. Here’s how the original opening worked, the last time it was used in The Giuoco Piano Affair, the seventh episode broadcast on NBC.

Hawaii Five-O complete (?) DVD set to debut

Hawaii-five-O-original

A 72-disc set billed as the complete set of the original Hawaii Five-O series (it had previously been sold on a season-by-season basis) officially goes on sale on Dec. 3. But customer reviews AT AMAZON.COM indicate deep skepticism it’s really a complete set despite the packaging and marketing.

The reason is Bored, She Hung Herself, the “lost” episode that has never been shown in syndication or issued on home video since its original broadcast on CBS on Jan. 7, 1970. It wasn’t part of the second season DVD set issued previously.

In the episode’s pre-titles sequence, there’s a character who hangs from a beam as part of a yoga technique without dying. He becomes a murder suspect when somebody else he knows dies by hanging. Rose Freeman, widow of Five-O creator Leonard Freeman, told attendees at a 1996 fan convention in the Los Angeles area that somebody killed themselves trying to duplicate the stunt.

As a result, the episode was pulled from circulation. At the same convention, though, a film copy of the episode was shown with a projector. It also showed up on YouTube in 2011 but was subsequently pulled.

As of Nov. 25, the complete set drew 10 reviews on Amazon.com, with seven of them for only 1 star.

“I would love nothing more then to order this box set of the original Hawaii Five O television series… And will, as soon as it becomes the “COMPLETE” series by adding the missing second season episode,” one of the 1-star reviews reads. “I will not pay for anything that advertises it is something it quite obviously isn’t.” The Amazon entry for the set doesn’t mention “Bored, She Hung Herself.”

The new complete (?) set has a list price of $349. Amazon has marked it down to $244.86 as part of a Black Friday special.

Earlier posts:
SEPTEMBER 2011: `BORED, SHE HUNG HERSELF,’ THE LOST HAWAII FIVE-O EPISODE

SEPTEMBER 2013: HAWAII FIVE-O’S 45TH ANNIVERSARY: COP SHOW WITH A SPY TWIST

Director exits Ian Fleming film, TheWrap says

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

Duncan Jones, who had been scheduled to direct a film based on the life of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, has exited the project, according to A STORY BY JEFF SNEIDER on The Wrap entertainment news website.

According to the story, the director’s commitment to work on a movie being developed by Legendary Entertainment and to be released by Universal forced Jones to part ways with the Fleming film. Here’s an excerpt:

With Legendary’s “Warcraft” starting production early next year, director Duncan Jones has been forced to part ways with “Fleming,” the upcoming biopic of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, TheWrap has learned.

Jones was keen to direct “Fleming” but scheduling became an insurmountable obstacle, as the producers were unwilling to wait nearly two years for him to finish “Warcraft,” which Universal will release on Dec. 18, 2015.

“Warcraft” is an adaptation of the popular video game “World of Warcraft,” and the big-budget tentpole calls for a long post-production process. Travis Fimmel and Paula Patton are expected to star.

“Fleming” is based on Andrew Lycett’s biography of Ian Fleming.

Sneider’s story says “Fleming” is now looking for a new director, with plans to do casting in 2014.

To view TheWrap’s story, CLICK HERE.

Entertainment Weekly describes an U.N.C.L.E. scene

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo photo that appeared on the HenryCavillfan.org site

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo photo that appeared on the HenryCavillfan.org site

For those who don’t want to know anything about the movie, leave now. A mild, vague spoiler awaits.

Entertainment Weekly, in its Nov. 29 issue, describes a scene from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie. It’s part of a broader story about the crowded U.K. filming scene, where tax breaks have fueled a boom in productions by U.S.-headquartered studios.

The story isn’t online at the publication’s website. However, the Henry Cavill News fan site HAS A POST with images of the article by writer Clark Hollis called The Joy of Sets.

In one passage, Hollis describes watching an U.N.C.L.E. movie scene being filmed. Referring to Guy Ritchie, Hollis writes:

The director decided to double down on the damp, ordering up a rain machine and having (Luca) Calvani’s character savagely attack (Henry) Cavill’s hero in the midst of what will look to audiences like a sudden Italian summer downpour. And I do mean savagely. You know you’re on a Guy Ritchie set when you hear the directorial instruction. “Let’s have him kick him in the bollocks!”

The article also has a drawing recreating the scene described, involving Cavill’s Napoleon Solo and Calvani’s Alexander. There are also comments about why the U.K. is a nice place to make a movie from Armie Hammer, who plays Illya Kuryakin. Entertainment Weekly lists movies currently in production in the U.K. It doesn’t provide a release date for the U.N.C.L.E. film.

To view the Henry Cavill News post, CLICK HERE. Entertainment Weekly’s Facebook page has A PHOTO of the Nov. 29 cover (the U.K. movie story is not the cover story).

Happy 81st birthday, Robert Vaughn

Today, Nov. 22, is Robert Vaughn’s 81st birthday. He doesn’t act like a pensioner. He just continues to act, period. His latest effort is a U.K. stage production of TWELVE ANGRY MEN.

He, of course, remains tied to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series that ran from 1964-68, which had an impact on fans that continues to this day. In fact, 50 years ago today — the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated — he was working on the U.N.C.L.E. pilot. Work for the day soon ended after news of the assassination was reported.

Whether he does or doesn’t end up with a cameo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie now being filmed, he is, and will remain, the original Napoleon Solo.

Vaughn also had a long career as a character actor, something that kicked in immediately after U.N.C.L.E. when he portrayed a slimy politician in Bullitt.

So here’s a toast, Mr. Vaughn.

solonye

Earlier posts:

HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY, ROBERT VAUGHN

HAPPY 79TH BIRTHDAY, ROBERT VAUGHN

FALL 1963: NORMAN FELTON CASTS HIS SOLO

What’s at stake for the U.N.C.L.E. movie

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer during filming in Italy

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer during filming in Italy

As The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie approaches the end of principal photography, here are some thoughts about what’s at stake for the production.

A potential U.N.C.L.E. franchise or back to limbo? There have been various attempts to revive the 1964-68 series. But there was a 15-year gap between the series and a 1983 television movie with original stars Robert Vaughn and David McCallum and another 30-year gap until the new movie started filming in September.

It’s a situation similar to The Lone Ranger. There were movies in 1956 and 1958. There wasn’t another live-action film until 1981, which flopped. It wasn’t until 2013 until another movie was released. It, too, flopped.

Best case scenario: the U.N.C.L.E. movie is enough of a hit it spawns sequels. Worst case: It flops and U.N.C.L.E. goes back to limbo for decades, if not forever.

A chance for Henry Cavill to become a star for something in addition to Man of Steel: Comic book movies sometimes revive careers, such as Robert Downey Jr. in three Iron Man movies and The Avengers. In some cases, an actor can be a star in a comic book-based film but not necessarily have that success spill over to other projects.

Playing Napoleon Solo is different than Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel. It remains to be seen if U.N.C.L.E. broadens Cavill’s star power before the Superman-Batman movie that’s slated to come out in 2015.

A chance for Armie Hammer to recover from a flop: Armie Hammer had the title role in 2013’s The Lone Range, although Johnny Depp’s Tonto was the star. Still, generating $260.5 million in worldwide ticket sales (splitting the take with theaters) isn’t the way to make money when you’re spending $215 million (or more) to produce the movie. Put another way: The Lone Ranger had total U.S.-Canada ticket sales of $89.3 million. Skyfall, the most recent James Bond movie, had $88.4 million in its opening weekend in the U.S. and Canada alone.

A hit always helps an actor. With the U.N.C.L.E. movie having an estimated budget of $75 million, it should be easier for the U.N.C.L.E. movie to be financially successful. But whether that happens remains to be seen.