‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ movie is a domestic box office bomb: Will it be saved by international filmgoers?
Directed by Sherlock Holmes’ Guy Ritchie and toplining Man of Steel star Henry Cavill and The Lone Ranger co-star Armie Hammer, the Warner Bros. release The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has been a domestic box office disaster, performing about 25 percent below – already quite modest – expectations. (See also: “‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Movie: Bigger Box Office Flop Than Expected.”)
This past weekend, the $80 million-budget The Man from U.N.C.L.E. collected a meager $13.42 million from 3,638 North American theaters, averaging $3,689 per site. After five days out, the big-screen reboot of the popular 1960s television series starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum has taken in a mere $16.77 million. For comparison’s sake: F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton earned nearly $3 million more on one day (Saturday, its second day out).
‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ overseas box office
Will Guy Ritchie’s flick have better luck internationally? Well, the answer is positively Yes. After all, Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel grossed $377 million internationally vs. $291.04 million in the U.S. and Canada. Besides, there’s Avengers: Age of Ultron-like expectations surrounding the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, starring Cavill and Ben Affleck, and the recently announced The Justice League Part One and Justice League Part Two movies, both also featuring Cavill as Superman.
But will curiosity about Henry Cavill’s future superhero movies be enough for people to pay to see a comedy-action flick without superheroes, Transformers-like CGI, James Bond, or Tom Cruise? One thing is clear: in order to alleviate Warners’ losses, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. will have to perform quite strongly internationally.
At this stage, prospects don’t look all that great. According to official studio estimates found at Deadline.com, by Sunday evening The Man from U.N.C.L.E. had grossed $12.1 million from 23 territories, including $3.1 million in Russia, a highly disappointing $2.26 million in the U.K., and $1.7 million in Australia.
A quick comparison: earlier this year, on its first weekend out in the U.K., Kingsman: The Secret Service scored $6.5 million. In Australia the film brought in $3.6 million, and the same amount in Russia. The stronger U.S. dollar helps to explain some – but not all – of the difference.
Henry Cavill box office
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is Henry Cavill’s first star vehicle following Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Relative to its cost, Tarsem Singh’s Immortals was a domestic box office disappointment back in fall 2011 (though it performed quite well overseas), while Mabrouk El Mechri’s cheaply made The Cold Light of Day, released in Sept. ’12 in North America because of Cavill’s association with Superman, scored a measly $3.76 million.
Not many action or superhero stars have managed to become – and remain – domestic (or, oftentimes, international) box office draws when not in costume or in character. This goes back all the way to (at least) Johnny Weissmuller, MGM’s in-house Tarzan. Christopher Reeve was a popular Superman, but not much else in terms of box office receipts, while it took Sean Connery more than a decade to fully shed his James Bond association. Even then, Connery’s box office was spotty: a few big hits (The Hunt for Red October, The Rock) interspersed with lots of big bombs (The Presidio, The Russia House).
More recently, Thor actor Chris Hemsworth scored with Rupert Sanders’ action fantasy Snow White and the Huntsman (having Kristen Stewart as his co-star helped more than a bit), but bombed in Ron Howard’s Rush and Michael Mann’s Blackhat. Hawkeye or no, Jeremy Renner hasn’t been able to carry a movie on his own, as evidenced by Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and the $125 million-budget The Bourne Legacy reboot – $113.2 million in the U.S. and Canada – starring Renner in the old Matt Damon role.
Even Robert Downey Jr., the highest paid star in the universe, is hardly a box office draw when not surrounded by CGI-enhanced green screens. Two recent Downey Jr. box office bombs: Joe Wright’s The Soloist and David Dobkin’s The Judge – two of his only three non-Marvel, non-Sherlock Holmes star vehicles of the last seven years. (The other one was Due Date, co-starring The Hangover‘s Zach Galifianakis, which managed to go in the black thanks to the international box office.)
In that regard, Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark star Harrison Ford was an exception to the rule – in large part thanks to the success of Peter Weir’s Witness and Ford’s ensuing Best Actor Oscar nomination.
Armie Hammer box office
As for Armie Hammer, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is his first starring role since Gore Verbinski’s mammoth 2013 box office bomb The Lone Ranger, co-starring Johnny Depp.
Thus far, Hammer hasn’t been very lucky with his post-The Social Network choice of movies. Besides The Lone Ranger, there have been Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror, co-starring Julia Roberts and Lily Collins. Both were critical and box office disappointments.
Next in line for Armie Hammer are:
- Fabio Guaglione and Fabio Resinaro’s Mine, with Annabelle Wallis and Tom Cullen.
- Nate Parker’s provocatively titled The Birth of a Nation – not a remake of D.W. Griffith’s 1915 epoch-making and still highly controversial classic. Also in the cast: Nate Parker himself as a former slave leading a revolt in mid-19th century Virginia, Penelope Ann Miller, Gabrielle Union, and Jackie Earle Haley.
- Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, also featuring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Jack Reynor, and Noah Taylor.
‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ movie cast
Besides Henry Cavill as CIA agent Napoleon Solo – a role initially intended for Brad Pitt, and then Tom Cruise – and Armie Hammer as KGB agent Illya Kuryakin, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. features the following:
Alicia Vikander. Hugh Grant. Elizabeth Debicki. Jared Harris. Luca Calvani. Sylvester Groth. Misha Kuznetsov. Christian Berkel. Guy Williams. David Beckham.
Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram (Sherlock Holmes) were credited for the screenplay, from a story by Ritchie, Wigram, Jeff Kleeman (one of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. producers), and David C. Wilson (Supernova).
Hit TV series
The television series ran 1964-1968. Besides Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, it featured frequent Alfred Hitchcock collaborator Leo G. Carroll (Suspicion, The Paradine Case, North by Northwest) as Alexander Waverly.
Among those found in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series’ extensive list of guest stars – including a number of Oscar winners and nominees – were:
Joan Crawford. Eleanor Parker. Janet Leigh. Vera Miles. Senta Berger. Jill Ireland. Carol Lynley. Jessie Royce Landis. Anne Francis. Paul Lukas. Chad Everett. Albert Dekker. Angela Lansbury. Patricia Medina. Cher. Mala Powers. Julie London. Kathleen Freeman. Dorothy Provine. Leonard Nimoy. William Shatner. Dan O’Herlihy. Zohra Lampert. Yvonne Craig. Gene Raymond. Patsy Kelly. Elsa Lanchester. France Nuyen. Cesar Romero. Diane McBain. Juliet Mills. Michael Ansara. Barbara Bouchet. Victor Buono. Eve Arden. Grayson Hall. Akim Tamiroff. Broderick Crawford. Richard Beymer. Terry-Thomas. Barry Sullivan. Joe Mantell. Eddie Albert. Telly Savalas. June Lockhart. Joan Collins. Anne Jeffreys. Tura Satana. Vincent Price. Estelle Winwood. Kevin McCarthy. Kim Darby. Jack Lord. George Sanders. Richard Kiel. Robert Culp. Martin Balsam. Leslie Nielsen. Herbert Lom. Charles Ruggles. Susan Oliver. Ricardo Montalban. Darren McGavin. Fritz Weaver. Jack Palance. John Carradine. Curt Jürgens. Elisha Cook Jr. George Macready. Allen Jenkins. Luciana Paluzzi. Kurt Russell.
Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 2015 images: Warner Bros.