It's had a long journey to the screen, losing Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney along the way, but the much-developed Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie is now finally within sight. Guy Ritchie is directing, with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer playing the leads, and the latest news is the release date: it'll be spying on cinema screens - in the US at least - from January 16 next year.
That window means it's currently opening against Michael Mann's Cyber (which may not actually be called Cyber at all); the Paul McGuigan / Max Landis Frankenstein; and Kevin Hart comedy The Wedding Ringer. Don't be fooled into thinking that January is the film dumping ground it used to be either. The Martin Luther King Day holiday weekend, while it doesn't rake in summer money, has become an important date on the calendar, and this year provided reasons to celebrate for Ride Along, Lone Survivor and The Nut Job. But it can also be a risk, as the team behind Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit can testify.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E., of course, updates the light-hearted spy series that ran for 105 episodes between 1964 and 1968, with Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as the smooth American Napoleon Solo and the intense Russian Illya Kuryakin. U.N.C.L.E. was an international intelligence agency: the United Network Command for Law Enforcement. Their chief antagonists were the agents of T.H.R.U.S.H.: the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity (although that acronym was never actually revealed in the series: it's a retcon from the spinoff novels). The series spawned a sister in The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., several cinema releases of expanded TV episodes, and a reunion TV movie in 1983.
Cavill is Solo and Hammer is Kuryakin in this iteration, with Hugh Grant as U.N.C.L.E. head Mr Waverley. Jared Harris, Alicia Vikander and Elizabeth Debicki will also be showing up for the party. The screenplay is by Ritchie and Lionel Wigram, ditching the Scott Z. Burns draft from the Soderbergh days.
And while we're talking Warner Bros. release dates, the studio have also found a slot for the Will Smith and Margot Robbie con-artist caper Focus. That one sees the light of day next year on February 27.