Logan Lucky, despite good reviews, flops

Logan Lucky poster

Logan Lucky, the heist movie with Daniel Craig in a key role, flopped its opening weekend in the U.S. despite favorable reviews.

The Steven Soderbergh-directed film generated $8 million at more than 3,000 screens, according to Exhibitors Relations, which compiles box office data.

The No. 1 movie for the weekend was The Hitman’s Bodyguard at an estimated $21.6 million, Exhibitors Relation said in a separate Twitter post.

Logan Lucky is an ensemble movie, with Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Katie Holmes among the cast. Craig got an in-joke billing, “Introducing Daniel Craig as Joe Bang.”

The movie got a 93 percent “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website that compiles reviews. Craig was among those praised by critics.

For example, Anthony Lane of The New Yorker described Craig as being “on a hollering vacation from his stern-visaged duties as James Bond, that his mood exalts the whole enterprise.”

Another critic, Adam Graham of The Detroit News, wrote that Craig was the main asset of the film.

“Craig is usually so stoic on screen — has his James Bond ever smiled? — that you forget that Craig has any sort of charisma behind his perma-scowl, but here he’s having so much fun that he casually makes off with the movie,” Graham wrote.

Logan Lucky, of course, was the movie Craig was promoting last week when he announced he’d play 007 again in Bond 25. On Aug. 15, he told radio stations no decisions had been made but then said he was returning as Bond on CBS’s The Late Show.

Meanwhile, Logan Lucky will probably do OK financially. Its budget was only a reported $30 million and “was financed via foreign advances and presales,” according to Scott Mendelson of Forbes.com,

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UPDATED: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. curse

The cast of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television show.

The cast of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television show.

Almost five years ago we published a post about The Man From U.N.C.L.E. curse.

Since the end of the 1964-68 series, a lot of things just seemed to go wrong. Well, after taking a look at the original, we decided to dress it up with events of the past few years. The more things change, the more, etc.

So you be the judge whether there’s a curse.

1970s: Veteran James Bond screenwriter Richard Maibaum is hired to develop a new version of U.N.C.L.E. Nothing comes of it, despite Maibaum’s track record.

1976-77: Writer-producers Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts hire Sam Rolfe, the original developer of the show, to do a script for a made-for-televison movie that could be the springboard for a new show. “The Malthusian Affair” has some interesting concepts (including having a dwarf occupy an armored exo-skeleton) but it doesn’t get past the script stage. Had it become reality, Robert Vaughn and David McCallum would have reprised their roles as Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin.

Early 1980s: Would-be producers Danny Biederman and Robert Short cobble together a theatrical movie project. Their script had Thrush, the villainous organization of the original series, take over the world without anyone realizing it. Vaughn and McCallum had expressed interest, as had former 007 production designer Ken Adam. Alas, nothing happened.

1983: The made-for-television series movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. airs on CBS. No series, or even a sequel made-for-TV movie, develops.

Early 1990s: Sam Rolfe attempts to do a made-for-cable-television movie that would have been an U.N.C.L.E. “next generation” story. Rolfe drops dead of a heart attack in 1993, ending any such prospect.

Circa 2004-2005: Norman Felton, executive producer of the orignal show, cuts a deal with a small production company for some sort of cable-televison project. Nothing concrete occurs.

2010-2011: Warner Bros. entices director Steven Soderbergh to direct an U.N.C.L.E. movie after a number of false starts. However, the director and studio can’t agree on budget and casting. Ironically, one of Soderbergh’s choices, Michael Fassbender as Napoleon Solo, later emerges as a star. Soderbergh gives up in late 2011.

Spring 2013: Guy Ritchie is now the director on the project. For a time, there are negotiations with Tom Cruise to play Solo. He’d be paired with Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin. In May, Cruise breaks off talks to concentrate on a new Mission Impossible movie.

June 2013: The Solo slot doesn’t stay vacant long. Henry Cavill, currently doing publicity for Warner Bros.’s Man of Steel emerges as the new choice.

September 2013: Filming actually starts on an U.N.C.L.E. movie. Is the curse abut to lift?

August 2015: The answer turns out to be no. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is trounced at the box office. One of the movies doing the trouncing: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation starring none other than Tom Cruise. Meanwhile, some fans of the original show complain Rolfe was denied a credit and Jerry Goldsmith’s theme went almost entirely unused.

August 2016: A year after the flop, some salt gets rubbed in the wound. Matthew Bradford, in a post on the Facebook group The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Inner Circle notes the following: A commentary track for a Blu Ray release for Modesty Blaise dismisses U.N.C.L.E. as “unwatchable” today.

It turns out the commenter, film historian David Del Valle, based his comment on an episode of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., where Robert Vaughn appeared as Solo. That episode was titled The Mother Muffin Affair and features Boris Karloff as an elderly woman.

Soderbergh says he was twice approached about 007 films

Steven Soderbergh

Steven Soderbergh

Director Steven Soderbergh says he twice was in discussions about working on a James Bond film, according to THE PLAYLIST website.

The director, who previously vowed to retire at age 50 but is still at it, made the comments during a screening of his 2012 film Haywire, according to The Playlist.

Here’s an excerpt with the few details:

When the conversation swung back to “Haywire,” Soderbergh dropped a big reveal about the 007 series. “Over the years, I’ve been in conversations… ,” he said with a pause and some hesitation and then just blurted it out. “I’ve been approached twice about doing a Bond film. And it never quite got anywhere. And [‘Haywire’] in some ways, was my opportunity to do what I would do with a Bond movie.”

That’s all there is Bond-wise. No details available about the time the supposed discussions took place.

Haywire, released in the United States in early 2012, featured Gina Carano as a double crossed spy operative who gets revenge. It was made in 2011, before Sodebergh was supposed to make a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Soderbergh dropped out of the U.N.C.L.E. project in late 2011 following disagreements with Warner Bros. over casting and budget. The U.N.C.L.E. film eventually was directed by Guy Ritchie.

Soderbergh is scheduled this fall to director Logan Lucky, a heist film that includes Daniel Craig in its cast, part of the actor’s growing list of non-007 projects.

Daniel Craig’s dance card begins to fill up

Bond spat out an obscenity after reading the articles.

Daniel Craig during filming of Skyfall.

Daniel Craig’s acting schedule over the next year or longer is starting to firm up. So, here’s a summary of where he stands with non-007 projects.

LOGAN LUCKY: Heist movie directed by Steven Soderbergh.

Status: In talks, according to Deadline: Hollywood.

Timing: Filming sometime in the fall. Deadline: Hollywood said pre-production began with last weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 near Charlotte, North Carolina.

Details: Soderbergh typically directs lean productions with ensemble casts. Channing Tatum has been described as the movie’s star by The Hollywood Reporter.

OTHELLO: Off-Broadway play.

Status: Announced, will be part of the New York Theatre Workshop’s 2016-2017 season.

Timing: No precise schedule disclosed.

Details: Craig will play Iago.

PURITY: 20-episode miniseries.

Status: Goes into production in 2017. Will be shown on Showtime pay-cable channel in 2017 and 2018.

Details: Craig will play “Andreas, a German provocateur who crosses paths” with a young woman named Purity, who is also known as Pip, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He will also be an executive producer.

Timing: No precise production schedule disclosed. If all 20 episodes are produced in 2017, it could take six months (which assumes less than one-and-a-half weeks per episode).

 

Craig may have another non-007 project, Deadline says

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig may join a heist movie directed by Steven Soderbergh amid signs there’s little progress on Bond 25, Deadline: Hollywood reported.

The website also reported that there “no negotiations” yet what studio will distribute Bond 25. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s most recent two-picture deal with Sony Pictures expired with 2015’s SPECTRE.

Craig and Katherine Heigl “are said to be finalizing deals to join Steven Soderbergh’s heist film Logan Lucky about brothers who plan a crime during a NASCAR race in Charlotte,” the entertainment news website said.

Logan Lucky “is scheduled for a fall start date, which puts further into question the actor’s willingness to return to the Bond franchise for MGM,” wrote Deadline’s Anita Busch. Deadline said pre-production will begin this weekend during the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race and the Daytona Beach, Florida-based racing series “has thrown its support behind the picture.”

Soderbergh once was attached to direct a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He quit the project in late 2011 and for a time declared himself retired from directing.

If Craig joins Logan Lucky, it adds to his growing list of non-007 projects. He’s scheduled to appear in an off-Broadway production of Othello this fall and is involved with Purity, a television limited series.

Meanwhile, Deadline said not much is happening on the Bond 25 front. Here’s an excerpt:

There have been no negotiations on where the Bond movie will land (Sony or Warner Bros. are out front on this) and although it was thought that negotiations might start after the first quarter 2016, parties are not likely to engage in negotiations until later this year. There is no workable script yet and the creative elements have yet to come into place. It has also been widely reported (and confirmed by Deadline) that Jamie Bell has discussed the Bond role with his Film Stars Don’t Die movie producer Barbara Broccoli (who has long produced the Bond movies).

The possibility of the 5-foot-7 Bell, 30, being a potential future 007 has been reported in a variety of outlets, including The Independent. He played the Thing in the 2015 version of The Fantastic Four.

More questions about the U.N.C.L.E. movie

"Illya, we need to find out more about the U.N.C.L.E. movie."

“Illya, we need to find out more about the U.N.C.L.E. movie.”


One thing about the HMSS Weblog. It never runs out of questions. Certainly that’s the case with a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. So here we go:

1. Who’s doing the script? Back in late June, it seemed as if the film would use a script penned by Scott Z. Burns for director Steven Soderbergh, who exited the project in late 2011. An INTERVIEW WITH ACTOR ARMIE HAMMER (slated to play Illya Kuryakin) quoted Hammer thusly:

‘It’s such a great script (by Scott Z. Burns), and it’s so funny! Guy Ritchie has such a great take on it.”

But, looking back, Hammer doesn’t say “Scott Z. Burns.” It’s inserted by writer Ruben V. Nepales. Meanwhile, in a NEW STORY IN VARIETY BY JON BURLINGAME, there’s this information:

With a script by Ritchie and his “Sherlock Holmes” writer and producer Lionel Wigram, the film is an origin story that tells of the first pairing of the two spies — one American, one Russian.

Ritchie refers to director Guy Ritchie, who previously helmed two Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey Jr. Later in the Variety story, it lists Burns as among a number of writers who’ve tried devising an U.N.C.L.E. tale over the years. Also, Burns HAS TALKED PUBLICLY ABOUT HIS SCRIPT. If it were actually being used for a film, you’d think studio executives wouldn’t be happy with the scribe disclosing details.

2. Why hasn’t Warner Bros. made an announcement yet? The studio has announced a Superman-Batman movie for 2015 (starring Henry Cavill, who played the title character in this year’s Man of Steel and is to play Napoleon Solo in the U.N.C.L.E. film); a 2014 science fiction movie directed by Christopher Nolan (which will be a co-production with Paramount); and The Judge, an October 2014 movie with Downey and Robert Duvall.

U.N.C.L.E. is supposed to start production in a little more than a month. Both Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer have separately said they’ll be doing the movie. Why is Warner Bros. still silent?

3. When will the U.N.C.L.E. movie reach audiences? Assuming the film begins production in early September, it’s possible you could get it out in time for the television show’s 50th anniversary in September 2014. But Warner Bros. (as noted before) has already announced fall 2014 films.

4. What about the rest of the cast? Will there be a Mr. Waverly, the U.N.C.L.E. chief played by Leo G. Carroll in the original 1964-68 series? Who will be the villain? Will there be an “INNOCENT” CHARACTER, one of the key elements that made U.N.C.L.E. different than James Bond?

5. What about the rest of the crew? As of early Aug. 1, the movie’s IMDB.COM entry listed mostly members of the art department. No director of photography. No composer. No editor. Those are all pretty major jobs on a movie and you’d think they’d be lined up by now.

6. Is a $75 million budget enough? Variety said the budget is $75 million. That’s less than half the budget for the 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall. Still $75 million ought to be sufficient. The movie is to be 1960s period piece, but computer effects make it easier to recreate past periods. Meanwhile, Hollywood has a hangover from a half-dozen or so very expensive movies that flopped, including The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. It makes sense that Warner Bros. would be more conservative with this project.

UPDATE: The BLEEDING COOL Web site says the film will have one villain part who “will be a Christoph Waltz-type with fondness for torture.”

Hammer says U.N.C.L.E. movie using Soderbergh’s script

Armie Hammer

Armie Hammer

Armie Hammer, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIER is quoted as saying The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie he’ll be doing uses the Scott Z. Burns script from 2011 that Steven Soderbergh was going to direct.

That script, set in the 1960s was based on a real-life 1966 incident that mirrored the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball.

An excerpt that includes Hammer commenting on the Illya Kuryakin role played by David McCallum in the original 1964-68 series:

“I’m also very excited about playing a Russian,” Armie added. “I’m in the middle of my research phase now. I’m studying the political climate during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was a fascinating time globally. It’s such a great script (by Scott Z. Burns), and it’s so funny! Guy Ritchie has such a great take on it.”

Hammer is also quoted in the story as saying filming begins in August. That raises the possibility the movie, if it becomes a reality, would be out in time for the television show’s 50th anniversary in 2014.

Soderbergh dropped out of the U.N.C.L.E. projct in late 2011. Warner Bros. assigned the project to Guy Ritchie to direct. Henry Cavill has said he’s playing Napoleon Solo, the character Robert Vaughn played in the television show. Warner Bros. hasn’t made an official announcement about the movie, but there have been reports it’s gearing up to be filmed in the U.K.

Most of the interview concerns The Lone Ranger movie where he plays the title character opposite Johnny Depp’s Tonto.

JUNE 19 POST: U.N.C.L.E. MOVIE SUPPOSEDLY GEARING UP IN THE U.K.

JUNE 8 POST: HENRY CAVILL HINTS THAT U.N.C.L.E. MOVIE WILL BE PERIOD PIECE