Kingsman sequel gets pushed back to fall 2017

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The sequel to 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service has been pushed back to the fall of 2017 from June, Exhibitor Relations said on Twitter.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle now has a release date of Oct. 6, 2017, instead of June 16, according to Exhibitor Relations, which provides box office and release date information to clients. The company’s customers include Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, according to its website.

The June 16 date had Walt Disney Co.’s Cars 3 for competition, according to the release schedule maintained  by The Numbers website.

Kingsman: The Secret Service was based on a comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. The film, which incorporated memes from 1960s spy entertainment, generated worldwide box office of more than $414 million.

The results spurred studio 20th Century Fox to approve a follow-up movie. Both the original and sequel were directed by Matthew Vaughn with Taron Egerton as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin. Also, despite his character being killed in the first movie, Colin Firth is back as Harry Hart in the new film.

The change in the Kingsman sequel’s release date was one of several made Wednesday and listed on the Box Office Mojo website.

Here’s the Exhibitor Relations tweet:

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Kingsman’s opening U.S. weekend: $35.6 million

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Kingsman: The Secret Service will have an estimated $35.6 million opening weekend in the United States, according to the BOX OFFICE MOJO website.

That was well above projections for $20 million for the Feb. 13-15 weekend, according to DEADLINE: HOLLYWOOD. It’s also near the $39.2 million opening weekend of Taken 3, the year’s first major spy film, which debuted in January.

Kingsman was a distant second to Fifty Shades of Grey, where the estimated three-day figure is $81.7 million, according to Box Office Mojo. 20th Century Fox essentially marketed Kingsman as an action alternative to Fifty Shades.

Kingsman is based on a comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. Matthew Vaughn’s movie changed the spy organization from the comic book’s MI6 to a privately financed international group. It also added memes from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Avengers.

REVIEW: Kingsman: The Secret Service

kingsman logoThis review contains a significant spoiler to make a broader point. There will be a warning.

By Bill Koenig

Matthew Vaughn set out to make an old-fashioned James Bond movie. It turns out Kingsman: The Secret Service is like Die Another Day — an excellent first half, with an overwrought second.

The first half of Kingsman, which Vaughn directed and co-scripted, stylishly updates familiar spy memes. It draws from 1960s Bond movies (including a score that evokes John Barry without copying), The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Avengers while updating them for 21st century audiences.

So far, so good. In fact, it’s better than good. You get socked in, you care about the heroes. Things move at a brisk pace.

Then, roughly at the midway point, there is a long, violent sequence. The purpose is to show (rather than tell) the villain’s scheme. But it’s so over the top, bordering on revolting, is like’s violence porn.

Now, I can hear some reactions now. “Whaddya expect? It’s Matthew Vaughn! It’s Mark Millar!” (Millar wrote and Dave Gibbons drew the comic book this film is based on, for those unfamiliar with the source material.)

True enough. Vaughn is known for violent films such as Layer Cake. Millar wrote Marvel and DC Comics stories of note to turn himself into a brand.

Still, much of it is unnecessary. The sequence could have been equally horrifying, and set the audience on edge, while still not becoming violence porn. But it doesn’t.

The plot is, essentially, a dressed up version of a megalomaniac trying to take over the world plot. Said megalomaniac here is Samuel L. Jackson, as Valentine, a billionaire who speaks with a speech impediment.

Valentine’s activities come to the attention of the Kingsmen, a private, non-governmental intelligence agency. One of its best operatives is Harry Hart (Colin Firth). Harry has a lot of his mind. Besides his normal derring do, he is trying to repay a slain colleague. Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the dead Kingsman’s son, had great promise but isn’t going anywhere. His mother lives with a low-life. Eggsy has been in trouble with the law.

When Valentine has another Kingsman operative killed, there’s an opening in the organization. Harry sponsors Eggsy, who’s up competing against a group of mostly upper class snobs.

Valentine’s ultimate plan is along the lines of The Spy Who Loved Me or Moonraker. But this being the 21st century and a Matthew Vaughn-directed film, things are more cynical than that. It turns out, some world leaders are more than willing to be a part of the scheme.

The aforementioned major spoiler follows. Stop reading now if you don’t want to know.

Eventually, the Kingsmen — well, what’s left of them — get the upper hand. They even manager to activate an implant in the necks of those world leaders who are collaborating with Valentine. As a result, their heads explode.

One of those people whose head explodes is U.S. President Barack Obama. Oh, he’s not named as such. But a tall, thin, African American U.S. president is in a bunker with his trusted advisers and they all have Valentine’s implants. Said U.S. president is photographed from the back. But nobody is fooled about who is this is supposed to be.

Anyway, all of their heads explode. It’s played for laughs — albeit extremely dark humor laughs. It’s part of a broader sequence where various, well-connected members of the 1 percent have their heads explode.

Now, in the “good old days,” escapist spy movies might have actors depicting an actual U.S. president without showing his face. Lyndon B. Johnson made “appearances” in Our Man Flint and The Wrecking Crew. But when such an official was needed for longer stretches, a “generic” U.S. president was shown such as In Like Flint, with actor Andrew Duggan.

Watching this movie, one suspects U.S. cable news networks may end up jumping in. One that’s known for leaning conservative (and owned by the parent company of 20th Century Fox, which released this movie) may call it brilliant satire. Another, known for leaning liberal, may work itself into a frenzy. We’ll see.
End spoiler.

In the end, Kingsman is worth seeing, particularly for fans of the spy genre who like an escpaist bent. However, it had a chance at excellence. It falls short. “Manners maketh man,” as Harry Hart says. Unfortunately, the filmmakers don’t follow their own advice. GRADE: B-Minus, mostly on the strength of the movie’s first half.

UPDATE: Valentine’s basic plot was also done in The Night of the Murderous Spring, near the end of the first season of The Wild Wild West. The episode, directed by Richard Donner, was the fourth appearance of Dr. Loveless. In this outing, he’s developed what amounts to a drug that releases all inhibitions so people kill each other.

In the episode, Loveless (Michael Dunn) is having dinner while James West and Artemus Gordon (Robert Conrad and Ross Martin) are caged up. A thug (Leonard Falk, Robert Conrad’s real life father) is leaning up against the door of a dining room where a large number of people are having food that includes Loveless’s drug. Suddenly, there are screams and yelling. Some of the people try to get out but the thug leans harder against the door to keep them in.

Now, this staging in part reflects the modest budgets for television. But it also forces the viewer to *imagine* the carnage occurring. Kitten, part of Loveless’s inner circle eventually opens the door is horrified. Loveless orders her to clean up the mess. Matthew Vaughn could have learned some lessons watching this episode.

UPDATE II (Feb. 15): Matthew Vaughn denies the U.S. president shown in the movie is supposed to be Barack Obama, the director said in a Feb. 13 story on ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’S WEBSITE.

Here’s the quote:

First of all, it’s not Obama. I just want to be clear. This is not an attack on Obama at all. This is an attack on all politicians, but the easiest way to making the point where people knew that Valentine was in power was to have the White House. We needed someone who was reminiscent of Obama, so that people got the point.

Personally, I think he’s being disingenuous. But there you go.

Kingsman: Is the spy pendulum swinging back?

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Kingsman: The Secret Service, the next film up in “The Year of the Spy,” makes its U.S. debut on Feb. 13. Its importance, though, may extend beyond its opening weekend.

The movie, directed by Matthew Vaughn, may be a sign whether the pendulum of spy movies is starting to swing back from the grim and gritty that has dominated the 21st century.

Vaughn and his collaborators certainly haven’t been shy about playing up that angle. The return of the “fun” spy movie was emphasized last July at the massive San Diego comic book convention.

Vaughn’s film is based on a comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. At San Diego, Millar was quoted by the Screen Rant website as saying, “James Bond cries in the shower now in these movies but [Kingsman star Colin Firth] gets to do cool stuff – like firing these gadgets and all this stuff. I think he got the best gig in the end.”

Millar referred to a scene in Casino Royale, Eon Productions’ first entry in the “grim and gritty” genre, in which the 007 series started over. Bond (Daniel Craig) doesn’t actually cry in the shower. But he comforts a sobbing Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) who is overcome after watching Bond in action. Regardless, the scene was an example of how Casino Royale was from the preceding 20 007 films made by Eon.

Casino, in turn, had been influenced by 2002’s The Bourne Identity. That came out in June 2002, a few months before Die Another Day, the 40th anniversary Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan. A second Bourne film, The Bourne Supremacy came out in 2004 while Eon was agonizing what to do next.

Bourne’s style — including faster paced and grimmer action sequences — weighed on the minds of executives at Eon and Sony Pictures, which began distributing Bond movies with Casino. Here’s how The New York Times described it IN AN OCTOBER 2005 STORY about Craig’s casting. The passage refers to Barbara Broccoli, Eon’s co-boss and cites executives who weren’t identified.

For both Ms. Broccoli and Sony, executives said, the model was Jason Bourne, the character Matt Damon successfully incarnated in two gritty spy movies for Universal Pictures, “The Bourne Identity” and “The Bourne Supremacy.”

Casino turned out to be a big hit. For 2008’s Quantum of Solace, Eon doubled down on making its movies more Bourne like, including more rapid epiding and hiring Dan Bradley as second unit director. Bradley had worked on two Bourne films (The Bourne Supremacy and 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum).

Quantum roughly matched Casino’s box office. The next 007 entry, Skyfall, didn’t adhere so much to Bourne as it did to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, another dark series. Skyfall director Sam Mendes even acknowledged the influence.

No complaints at the box office. Skyfall reeled in $1.11 billion worldwide.

Still, trends don’t last forever. Even among fans, you’ll occasionally hear comments such as Skyfall “is like watching the same funeral over and over.”

So enter Kingsman. Its trailer openly mocks grim and gritty spy movies. Colin Firth at one point says current spy movies are too serious for his taste.

We’ll see how Kingsman performs with movie goers. It’s rated R — mostly because of its violence. That normally holds down ticket sales. Also, the comic book on which it’s based isn’t that well known among the general public.

Kingsman probably has more humor than The Man From U.N.C.L.E., although Henry Cavill, the star of that film, has said that movie also has a humorous element. U.N.C.L.E. won’t be out until mid-August.
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As for SPECTRE, the Bond film currently in production, it’s hard to tell. Sam Mendes is back as director and he’s not exactly hailed as a master of humor.

On the other hand, if you read between the lines of a spoiler-laden DEC. 12 GAWKER STORY, the movie appears to be attempting to be more like a “classic” Bond film while retaining Daniel Craig seriousness. The Gawker story was based on a draft SPECTRE script that surfaced because of the hacking at Sony.

Meanwhile, it’s too early to write off grim and gritty. Matt Damon is planning to do a fourth Bourne film that is supposed to be released in 2016.

UPDATE (Feb. 11) — Kingsman is forecast to finish a distant second to Fifty Shades of Grey this weekend, according to DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD.

Evolution of a meme: Helm to 007 to Kingsman

The Year of the Spy (in the United States, anyway) shifts into another gear this month with the debut of Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The movie, directed by Matthew Vaughn, strives for a return of the escapist spy film in a century known mostly for the grim and gritty, first popularized by Jason Bourne and then by a rebooted James Bond franchise with Daniel Craig.

Kingsman’s emphasis on escapism even extends to the movie’s ad campaign, which involves a meme that’s been around for decades.

In the ads, members of the Kingsman’s cast, including star Colin Firth, are depicted striding toward a woman with prosthetic feet (a character in the film) who’s holding a drink and a rifle.

A poster for Kingsman: The Secret Service

A poster for Kingsman: The Secret Service

The image evokes the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, in which Roger Moore’s Bond is standing before a swimsuit-wearing Melina, holding a crossbow.

FYEO U.S. Insert

But 007 wasn’t the first spy character to use such an image.

Fifteen years earlier, The Silencers — produced by Irving Allen, former partner of co-founding 007 producer Albert R. Broccoli — had an illustration of a woman in a similar pose. Matt Helm (Dean Martin) isn’t standing in front of her but his presence is noted regardless.

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In any case, Kingsman already is out in Europe. The R-rated movies arrives in U.S. theaters on Feb. 13.

Preview of 2015’s ‘Year of the Spy’

Taken 3 poster

Taken 3 poster

We’re just a few days away from 2015, which will be the “Year of the Spy” in theaters. It might not be 1966 all over again but fans of spy movies will have choices in the new year.

What follows is a preview of five notable entries, listed by U.S. release date.

Taken 3, Jan. 9: This is the poster child for how studios like to take successful movies and turn them into “franchises.”

2009’s Taken was a modestly budgeted $25 million, according to Box Office Mojo, which generated almost $227 million in worldwide box office. It concerned a retired CIA agent (Liam Neeson) who springs into action after his college age daughter is kidnapped in Europe. It helped make Neeson, now 62, an action hero.

A sequel, Taken 2, came out in 2012. The budget went up, at $45 million, but worldwide box office also increased to $376 million. Thus, a trilogy was inevitable. Whether the saga of Bryan Mills is worth a third installment remains to be seen.

Kingsman: The Secret Service, Feb. 13: For more than a decade, grim and gritty has dominated the cinema spy scene. The Bourne films, the rebooted James Bond franchise and other films set a serious tone.

Kingsman, directed by Matthew Vaughn, draws upon more escapist spy entertainment of the 1960s.

The film is based on a comic book, The Secret Service, that was about MI6. The movie’s organization is a mysterious, international group, a la The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series (it even has a secret entrance similar to U.N.C.L.E.’s) In July, at the massive San Diego comic book convention, principals of the film mentioned ’60s style Bond movies and The Avengers television series as influences.

Kingsman may be a test whether the spy pendulum swings back toward escapist. In the U.S., the movie opens opposite the anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey, which will provide a test of a different sort.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Aug. 14: A more accurate title for the Guy Ritchie-directed film might be The Man Without U.N.C.L.E.

Ritchie’s film is an origin story. There is no U.N.C.L.E. at the start of the tale. Instead, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are required to join forces. It’s a Solo-Kuryakin story that won’t have many of the memes of the original 1964-68 television series.

U.N.C.L.E. originally was slated for a mid-January release date, but got put back to mid-August instead. The move came after Warner Bros. conducted test screenings in June. The optimistic interpretation is it’s a sign the studio is higher on the movie than previously. We’ll see.
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SPECTRE, Nov. 6: The 24th James Bond film produced by Eon Productions has had more public intrigue than usual because of the hacking of documents at Sony Pictures.

Because of the hacks, details about the movie’s budget and script development have become public. Thus, it’s possible to see some of the sausage making associated with movie production in the case of SPECTRE. Even before the hacks, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail had reported how screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were summmoned to revamp John Logan’s original draft.

Still, Bond is Bond. The film is Daniel Craig’s fourth turn as 007. Sam Mendes, the director of 2012’s Skyfall, is back as well. This will be the first time the same director has helmed consecutive Bond films since John Glen’s run in the 1980s, when he directed five in a row.

Mission: Impossible 5, Dec. 25: The latest Tom Cruise M:I film hasn’t gotten as much attention as you might expect for a Cruise project. The star-producer’s last M:I entry, in 2011, was a hit. This time out, M:I will come out just a week after Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. So it’ll be interesting to see if Cruise’s Ethan Hunt can still find an audience.

The Secret Service principals compare movie to old-style 007

UPDATE (July 26): A reader who was at the presentation tells us that a Colin Firth quote below was transcribed incorrectly by Screen Rant. Quote has been changed to reflect that.

Some of the people behind the new Kingsman: The Secret Service compared the upcoming film to 1960s James Bond movies and other spy entertainment of that decade, according to the entertainment website SCREEN RANT.

The movie got promoted at the San Diego comic book convention. The film is based on a 2012 comic book series by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.

Millar made light of more recent Bond films with Daniel Craig in discussing Kingsman. “James Bond cries in the shower now in these movies but [star Colin Firth] gets to do cool stuff – like firing these gadgets and all this stuff. I think he got the best gig in the end.”

Firth kept his comparisons to the 1960s. He was quoted thusly by Screen Rant (with corrections included): “I enjoyed this kind of thing growing up in the ’60s and the character of the spy movie has its roots in the ’60s. It’s the Man from Uncle U.N.C.L.E., it’s the Harry Donner Palmer films, it’s John Speed’s Steed’s Avengers, and those early Bond films. It’s the guy in the suit who seems slick and cool and capable but very contained but you cross him at your peril.”

The Matthew Vaughn-directed film is due out this fall in February.

Matthew Vaughn’s latest looks more U.N.C.L.E. than 007

The Movies.com website has a post about Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The website describes the movie, directed by Matthew Vaughn and due out this fall, as “like James Bond but way more ridiculous.” But it actually looks more U.N.C.L.E. than 007.

Based on the trailer, it’s about the exploits of an international spy organization, like U.N.C.L.E. was. Also, characters enter a hidden entrance via a hook in a trailor shop, like Del Floria’s in U.N.C.L.E.

Judge for yourself:

David Beckham and U.N.C.L.E.: rumor and (apparent) reality

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer
(Art by Paul Baack)

This weekend saw the (apparent) closure of the notion that former soccer star David Beckham was auditioning to star in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.

In June, a website called Celebrity Fix PUBLISHED A POST that said that Beckham would be “be auditioning for the lead role” in the U.N.C.L.E. movie. This was after actor Henry Cavill said he’d be playing Napoleon Solo in the film while Armie Hammer would play Illya Kuryakin. Either the Solo or Kuryakin part would qualify as “the lead” in an U.N.C.L.E. film.

On Nov. 10, a British tabloid, the Daily Mail, had A STORY saying Beckham was appearing in the movie. No details on the part.

The Daily Mail had a mixed record where accuracy is concerned. On one hand, the publication has a reputation for stealing copy from other publications without credit. On the other hand, the Mail’s Baz Bagimboye had a number of scoops about the 2012 007 film Skyfall that were proven to be correct.

Bagimboye, however, didn’t write the Mail’s U.N.C.L.E. story. Meanwhile, Celebrity Fix’s claim that Beckham was auditioning for “the lead” in the Guy Ritchie-directed U.N.C.L.E. film seems to have been disproven.

Ritchie once directed an underwear commercial with Beckham, as described in THIS STORY by the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph.

UPDATE: On Twitter, some of the Cavill-Hammer fan people raise the question whether the Daily Mail is correct about Beckham filming a scene in the U.N.C.L.E. movie or in the Matthew Vaughn-directed THE SECRET SERVICE.