The Man From U.N.C.L.E. curse strikes again

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015) teaser poster

Years ago, the blog discussed The Man From U.N.C.L.E. curse — a series of mostly unrelated events with one thing in common. Namely, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

There were genuine tragedies. Sam Rolfe, who developed the original show, died of a heart attack while trying to come up with a new made-for-cable-TV version in the 1990s. More of the “curse” involved promising new versions that would never see the light of day.

The “curse” has reared up its ugly head with the two stars of the 2015 movie, the most recent (and perhaps final) version of U.N.C.L.E.

The biggest impact is being felt by Armie Hammer, who played Illya Kuryakin in the 2015 movie.

To put it simply, Hammer’s career is in freefall. Here’s an excerpt of a Variety story via the Chicago Tribune.

The new year kicked off with what will likely be the most bizarre celebrity story of 2021: Armie Hammer — the genetically blessed movie star of “Call Me by Your Name” and “The Social Network” fame, and heir to the Hammer family oil fortune — began trending online for being a cannibal.

Hammer is not a cannibal.

What, what? It’s a long story. And it’s not really worth telling in detail here. The problem is Hammer has been dropped by his talent agency and his publicist because of isues with his personal life. Also, he hasn’t had many hits. So, suddenly, he’s seen as radioactive. He has dropped out of projects and his future is in doubt.

Also facing future questions is Henry Cavill, who played Napoleon Solo in the 2015 film.

In the early 2010s, Cavill was cast as Superman. His solo Superman film, Man of Steel, came out in 2013. It was supposed to be the first step in creating a film universe based on DC Comics characters, similar to the Marvel Cinematic University.

Unfortunately for Cavill, he only got the one solo movie. He appeared in Batman v Superman (2016) and Justice League (2017), but took a back seat to Ben Affleck’s Batman

At one point, had U.N.C.L.E. been a box office success, he could have been part of two film franchises. But U.N.C.L.E. was a disappointment and Warner Bros. clearly isn’t hurrying to bring out any new Cavill versions of Superman. His last hurrah may be a Zack Snyder-cut of Justice League due to come out on the HBO Max streaming service.

When Cavill began his Superman career, he was the young and up-and-comer. Now he’s pushing 40 (he’ll turn 38 in May) with an uncertain future.

Oh, well. At least, Cavill has the streaming show The Witcher streaming series to fall back on.

What we know (and don’t know) about NTTD’s music

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

(Corrects to note Dan Romer listed in August press release.)

One of the main unanswered questions about No Time to Die is who will do the music. There’s been a lot of smoke but no definite answers.

So, here’s a recap.

1. IndieWire reported July 2 that Dan Romer had the job. The same day, Romer put out a tweet thanking IndieWire and said he was “very excited for this year.”

2. An August press release about the title No Time to Die lists Romer as composer.

3. The James Bond Radio fan website on Nov. 1 says it has heard Romer has departed the project. But the website also says to take the development with a grain of salt. Romer’s Twitter account is of no help. Its last post was on Sept. 6.

4. David Arnold, a five-time Bond film composer (and a fan favorite), says Dec. 4 on Twitter he hasn’t been approached about working on No Time to Die. “I can sit back and enjoy it with everyone else,” he writes.

5. Anton Volkov, founder of TrailerTrack (@antovolk), posts a Dec. 27 tweet saying “there’s some smoke” that someone affiliated with Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions may be doing the No Time to Die’s score.

One of the sources is a message board at Zimmer’s website. The site administrator reportedly is close to Zimmer.

6. One question is whether we’re talking about Zimmer himself or another composer affiliated with his Remote Control Productions company. For background about Remote Control, CLICK HERE to view a 2014 story by Variety.

7. James Bond Radio comes back with a Dec. 28 tweet saying it doesn’t know who the composer is, just that it’s not Zimmer but “one of his guys” at Remote Control. The tweet includes a link to composers affiliated with Remote Control.

One of the 63 composers shown on the Zimmer website page is Tom Holkenborg, known professionally as Junkie XL. Holkenborg and Zimmer shared the composer credit for 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Holkenborg was supposed to score 2017′ Justice League but got replaced by Danny Elfman.

Another one of the Remote Control composers is Lorne Balfe, the credited composer for 2018′ Mission: Impossible-Fallout.

UPDATE (10:15 a.m., New York time, Dec. 29): On Dec. 25, Film Music Reporter had a story about Dan Romer’s latest project, Wendy. It does not list No Time to Die as among Romer’s credits. h/t MI6 James Bond website, which mentioned in a story.

Henry Cavill on Bond, U.N.C.L.E. and Superman

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (art by Paul Baack)

Men’s Health is out with a long feature story about actor Henry Cavill. He was once up for playing James Bond (losing out to Daniel Craig), played Napoleon Solo in a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and was Superman in three films.

Various entertainment outlets have chewed up the story into bite-sized pieces about various topics. Here’s a roundup.

On auditioning for Bond in Casino Royale: Cavill was in his early 20s when he tested for the role of Bond. Chances are he didn’t stand much of a chance given how Eon Productions boss was pushing for Daniel Craig. The story has this passage:

To screen-test, he had to walk out of a bathroom wrapped in a towel and reenact a scene from one of the Sean Connery–era films. “I probably could have prepared better,” Cavill says. “I remember the director, Martin Campbell, saying, ‘Looking a little chubby there, Henry.’ I didn’t know how to train or diet. And I’m glad Martin said something, because I respond well to truth. It helps me get better.”

Sounds like he was probably talking about the seduction scene of From Russia With Love, which is one of the standard Bond screen test scenes.

On The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015): The article says the movie, while not a big hit, helped Cavill’s career.

It wasn’t until the big-screen remake of the TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that viewers got an idea of the actor’s innate playfulness. Cavill played a swanning, conning American agent named Napoleon Solo. And although it wasn’t a hit, it marked a crucial moment in his career. As Solo, he was droll, at ease, and effortlessly sexy.

Watching U.N.C.L.E., says director Christopher McQuarrie, led him to cast the actor as the evil-genius villain of Mission: Impossible—Fallout. “Something in Henry’s comic timing told me he had talents that weren’t being exploited,” says McQuarrie. “I found he had a charming sense of humor—at which point I knew he could be a villain. The best villains enjoy their work.”

Whether he’s still Superman: Cavill played Superman in Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman (2016) and Justice League (2017). There are no outward signs whether he’ll be back. An excerpt:

“I’ve not given up the role. There’s a lot I have to give for Superman yet. A lot of storytelling to do. A lot of real, true depths to the honesty of the character I want to get into. I want to reflect the comic books. That’s important to me. There’s a lot of justice to be done for Superman. The status is: You’ll see.”

What next for Henry Cavill?

“We want that cape back!” “Mr. Warner” said.

Henry Cavill may be turning in his Superman cape after “Mr. Warner” (Warner Bros.) decided to go in a new direction for its movies based on DC Comics characters. At least The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Cavill is out. Neither side confirmed the development to the entertainment news outlet.

Cavill, 35, played Superman in three movies, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. When not portraying the hero, Cavill has moonlighted playing spies: Napoleon Solo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Tom Cruise’s adversary in Mission: Impossible-Fallout. And, of course, he’s a perennial name in the “Who Will Be the Next James Bond?” sweepstakes. He screen tested for Bond in his 20s for Casino Royale.

Assuming THR is correct, what’s next for the Britis actor who often plays Americans? He’s part of a Netflix project, The Witcher. But does he have prospects for other franchises?

Warner Bros. perhaps hoped U.N.C.L.E. might become a franchise. Cavill stepped into the Solo role when Tom Cruise took a pass to concentrate instead on 2015’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation.

That M:I film opened just two weeks before U.N.C.L.E. and was a major factor in the latter under-performing at the box office. There’s occasional chatter about doing an U.N.C.L.E. sequel despite that. Still, that would seem a long shot.

Based on the ending of Mission: Impossible-Fallout, it would seem a Cavill appearance in a seventh M:I film is unlikely. Which brings up to the inevitable Bond discussion.

Despite the fact there’s no vacancy (Daniel Craig is to star in Bond 25), the British press loves to pose the question of future Bond possibilities. And British bookies love to take bets, generating still more publicity.

Anecdotally, I’ve encountered people who love Cavill and others who decry him as a block of wood. Regardless, given the current pace of 007 film production, who knows when Cavill would even have a chance?

That’s show business, I guess.

UPDATE (12:45 p.m. New York time): Cavill’s agent says not so fast.

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UPDATE II (1:05 p.m. New York time): The io9 Gizmodo site received the Warner Bros. statement about Cavil. “While no decisions have been made regarding any upcoming Superman films, we’ve always had great respect for and a great relationship with Henry Cavill, and that remains unchanged.”

Doesn’t appear to say a whole lot.

 

Justice League: Epilogue

Justice League movie logo

Well, the Justice League’s soap opera has come to an end and it’s not looking pretty from a financial standpoint.

After three weekends in the U.S. the Warner Bros. superhero movie has an estimated box office of $197.3 million.

For the average film, that’s great. But when the budget is an estimated $250 million to $300 million, not so much.

By contrast, Warners’ 2016 Batman v Superman generated $166 million on its opening weekend.

Justice League’s opening weekend  was $93.8 million. Again, great for most movies. But it failed to match the opening weekend of other films based on DC Comics characters such as Man of Steel, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman.

Justice League is the big DC team of heroes, comprised of its leading characters. Compare it to Marvel’s The Avengers in 2012, which had an opening weekend of $207.4 million. Its sequel, Avengers Age of Ultron, had a U.S. opening weekend of $191.3 million.

The two Avengers movies had ultimate global box of more than $1 billion ($1.5 billion for the first, $1.4 billion for the second).

Justice League may end up at less than half of that. Forbes.com estimates it will generate less than the $668 million global box office of 2013’s Man of Steel.

The lesson? Nothing’s a sure thing. Justice League didn’t lack for effort. It was the effort of two directors, Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon. (Whedon isn’t credited but does share in the screenplay credit).

The latter directed those two billion-dollar Avengers films. So he ended up re-shooting much of the movie. But, at least at the box office, Whedon’s sensibilities and style didn’t transfer to Justice League.

Justice League’s motto: Do no harm

Justice League movie logo

No major spoilers but the spoiler adverse should pass this up.

The subtitle of Justice League could be “Do No Harm.” One of the main missions of the film seems to be to repair the damage done to DC Comics characters in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

In that regard, Justice League succeeds.

(OK spoiler sensitive types bail out now.)

The film brings back Superman who had died at the end of Batman v Superman. What’s more, he’s brought back (after an understandable period of adjustment) as being….well, Superman.

With 2013’s Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, the Man of Steel was full of self doubt, unsteady and, at times, not very Superman-like. In Justice League, Henry Cavill’s Superman costume looks like it has been cleaned. It looked dirty in his previous two appearances.

Even better, Superman embraces being a hero. That’s what Superman does. The movie doesn’t have Clark Kent wink at the audience, the way comic book Clark Kent did decades ago. But it’s a big improvement. And Superman actually isn’t in the movie that much.

Other characters do a lot of the heavy lifting. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman understandably carries a lot of the load. Jason Momoa grabs attention as Aquaman, a character general audiences probably aren’t that familiar with. Ezra Miller brings a neurotic take on the Flash.

Finally, there’s Ben Affleck’s Batman. The actor took much of the brunt of criticism for Batman v Superman, which depicted the character at times as a homicidal maniac. The “do no harm” label applies here as well. Batman is more on an even keel (well, as much as a guy who dresses up in a Bat costume can). The new-look Affleck/Batman even shows some compassion at times.

The production of this film has been a bit of a soap opera. Extensive rewrites and reshoots. A large budget, raising doubts whether this movie will ever earn a dime of profit. And even having Henry Cavill’s mustache (grown for Mission: Impossible 6) digitally erased in the reshoots.

And, of course, there has been plenty of speculation whether Affleck will return as Batman. Intentional or not, a scene in the film evokes this when Affleck’s aging Bruce Wayne acknowledges he can’t keep being Batman much longer.

In the end, the movie makes the viewer forget the soap opera. That may be the biggest compliment one can provide. GRADE: B-Plus.

Justice League trailer: Many explosions, bit of humor

Warner Bros. this morning brought out a new trailer for Justice League, its big superhero movie. The film, due out Nov. 17, has been the subject of a lot of press coverage and seen extensive reshoots.

The new trailer features a lot of explosions and mayhem as Earth is imperiled with Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) leading a new team.

And there’s some humor toward the end, presumably Warners’ way of addressing criticism that 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was too dark and moody.

Speaking of Superman, this is the first Justice League trailer where he appears. But it’s still unclear how they’re going to bring him back.

Here’s the trailer:

Warner Bros.’s Batman PR problem

Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill in a Batman v Superman poster

UPDATE (July 22): Ben Affleck said at the San Diego Comic Con today he’s still playing Batman, according to numerous reports.

Among the outlets reporting on Affleck’s remarks: COLLIDER.COM, the New York DAILY NEWS and THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

It was the latter, in a story on Friday, that said Warner Bros. was ready to ease Affleck out of the role.

ORIGINAL POST (July 21): Just when Warner Bros.’s DC Extended Universe seems to get on track, it’s undergoing a public relations problem during the San Diego Comic Con.

You remember when the DCEU finally was getting good PR? It was just last month when Wonder Woman generated both ticket sales and positive reviews.

Just weeks later, the buzz is that Warner Bros. (aka “Mr. Warner,” this blog’s nickname for the studio) is getting ready to ease the current Batman, Ben Affleck, out of the role. At least’s that’s according to a story by Kim Masters in The Hollywood Reporter.

Affleck got top billing in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. That movie introduced Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. It did good (but sub $1 billion worldwide) business while getting terrible reviews.

Still, Affleck’s Batman created a buzz. First, it was the actor would write, direct and star in a solo Batman movie titled The Batman. Then, well, he wasn’t going to direct after all.

A new director, Matt Reeves, was hired. Initially, the buzz was that Affleck’s script would be used. Then, this month, the news came out that Affleck’s script was being jettisoned and things would start over.

Now, Affleck himself may be out. Here’s an excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter story:

(A) source with knowledge of the situation says that the studio is working on plans to usher out Affleck’s Batman — gracefully, addressing the change in some shape or form in one of the upcoming DC films. Exactly when and how that might happen has yet to be determined, but it would be wise to bet against Affleck starring in The Batman.

The thing is, the massive San Diego convention has become a forum for studios to promote upcoming films, and not just movies based on comic books.

Justice League is the next DCEU film and a followup to Batman v Superman. It’s supposed to address some of the faults (i.e. too gloomy) present in the 2016 film.

In Batman v Superman, Affleck, who turns 45 on Aug. 15, played an older Batman. It was very much influenced by the 1986 mini-series The Dark Knight Returns by writer-artist Frank Miller. In that story, Batman comes out of retirement.

We’ll see how all this turns out. Still, it’s doubtful Mr. Warner appreciates the “Affleck is out” buzz generated by The Hollywood Reporter story.

Wonder Woman about to be No. 1 DC film in U.S. box office

Wonder Woman poster

Wonder Woman is on the verge of being the No. 1 DC Extended Universe movie at the U.S. box office.

The film’s U.S. box office totaled $325,083,830 as of June 27, according to the Box Office Mojo website.

That means Wonder Woman likely will pass 2016’s Suicide Squad ($325,100,054) today. Next up, also from 2016, is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which had U.S. box office of $330,360,194.

The DCEU began with 2013’s Man of Steel, which had U.S. box office of $291,045,518.

Wonder Woman’s global office still lags the other three DCEU films.

The movie’s worldwide total was $660,883,830 as of June 27.

It’s getting close to Man of Steel’s global box office ($668,045,518). Meanwhile the worldwide numbers were $873,260,194 for Batman v Superman and $745,600,054 for Suicide Squad.

Wonder Woman has been a lift for Warner Bros. Both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad received many bad reviews. That wasn’t the case for Wonder Woman, which has a 92 percent “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

In the U.S., Wonder Woman hasn’t had the quick box office dropoff experienced by the two 2016 DC movies.

UPDATE (June 30): Wonder Woman surpassed Batman v Superman in U.S. box office on June 29, according to a post by Scott Mendelson on Forbes.com. Its U.S. box office total was $330,529,475 as of June 29, according to Box Office Mojo.

Wonder Woman 2d weekend bests other DC movies

Wonder Woman poster

Wonder Woman, during its second weekend in the U.S., outperformed two 2016 Warner Bros./DC movies.

Wonder Woman’s U.S.-Canada box office totaled $58.2 million for the June 9-11 weekend, according to the Box Office Mojo website. That was a 43 percent decline compared with its opening weekend. That’s a smaller dropoff compared with most films.

By comparison, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had a second weekend of $51.3 million (a 69 percent plunge from opening weekend). Suicide Squad’s second weekend totaled $43.5 million (a 67 percent drop).

Both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad opened better than Wonder Woman. But bad reviews and word of mouth contributed to their fast declines at the box office.

By contrast, Wonder Woman received a lot of rave reviews. In March, there were estimates it would have a $65 million opening weekend. It came in at $103.3 million.

As a result, Warner Bros. received a lift as it competes with Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios. The question is whether the good mojo will carry over to Justice League, set to be released in November.