The Legend of Tarzan (film)

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The Legend of Tarzan
The Legend of Tarzan poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Yates
Produced by
Written by
Based on Tarzan of The Apes
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Starring
Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams
Cinematography Henry Braham
Edited by Mark Day
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • June 27, 2016 (2016-06-27) (Dolby Theatre)
  • July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01) (United States)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $180 million[2]
Box office $356.7 million[2]

The Legend of Tarzan is a 2016 American action adventure film based on the fictional character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Directed by David Yates, and written by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer,[3] the film stars Alexander Skarsgård as the title character, with Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent and Christoph Waltz in supporting roles. Principal photography began on June 21, 2014, at Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios in the United Kingdom, and wrapped four months later on October 3.

The film premiered at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on June 29, 2016 and was theatrically released in the United States on July 1, 2016, in 2D, 3D, IMAX and IMAX 3D.[4] The film grossed over $356 million against a budget of $180 million and received mixed reviews from critics.

Plot[edit]

As a result of the Berlin Conference, the Congo Basin is claimed by King Leopold II of the Belgians, who rules the Congo Free State in personal union with the Kingdom of Belgium. The country is on the verge of bankruptcy, Leopold having borrowed huge amounts of money to finance the construction of railways and other infrastructure projects. In response, he sends his envoy Léon Rom (Christoph Waltz) to secure the fabled diamonds of Opar. Rom's expedition is ambushed and massacred, with only Rom surviving. A tribal leader, Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou), offers him the diamonds in exchange for an old enemy: Tarzan.

The man once called "Tarzan", John Clayton III, the fifth Earl of Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgård), has long since left Africa behind and settled down in London with his American-born wife, Jane Porter (Margot Robbie), taking up his birth name and ancestral family residence as Lord Greystoke. In the eight years since returning from Africa, John's story as Tarzan has become legendary among the Victorian public, although John himself wishes to leave the past behind him. Through the British Prime Minister (Jim Broadbent), John is invited by King Leopold to visit Boma and report on the development of the Congo by Belgium, though Greystoke politely declines the invitation. An American envoy, George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), who recognises John from the stories of "Tarzan", privately reveals his suspicions that the Belgians are enslaving the Congolese population. Williams persuades John to accept the invitation in order to prove his suspicions. Jane is disappointed when John says that she should not come, as he thinks the trip would be too dangerous, remembering how both his parents died as a result of the jungle's brutality following their shipwreck there — his mother of disease and his father later killed by the Mangani apes — leaving the baby John to be raised as Tarzan by his Mangani "mother" Kala and "brother" Akut. However, Jane reminds him that she grew up in Africa as well, and misses her home and friends there. John relents, and allows Jane to accompany him.

John, Jane, and Williams take the trip to the Congo. There, the trio encounters a tribal village and villagers who knew John and Jane during their previous stay in the jungle. Jane explains to Williams that her husband was once considered an evil spirit by the African tribes, including that of Chief Mbonga. Jane recalls how, when she was younger, she and her father lived in the tribal village helping to care for local children. There she met Tarzan who was made feral and physically enhanced by his life with the apes. The naked ape man saved Jane's life by shielding her from a vicious mangani attack, suffering severe injuries in the process. Jane took the injured Tarzan home, nursed him back to health, and the two fell in love. That night, as the tribe sleeps, Rom and his mercenaries raid the village and kidnap John and Jane and kill the tribe's leader. They then escape to a nearby steamboat with Jane and several of the tribe's members, but Williams is able to rescue John before he can be taken to the boat.

With the aid of the tribe's warriors, John and Williams intercept a Belgian military train carrying captured slaves, providing Williams with the evidence he needs to expose King Leopold. They also discover that Rom intends to use the diamonds to pay for a massive army to subdue the Congo, and allow Belgium to mine its wealth for Leopold's benefit. As John and Williams continue onward, John encounters the adult Akut, who is now leader of the apes. Aware that Akut considers him a deserter, John prepares to fight Akut, though he soon loses. That night, as John recovers, Williams recalls the massacres of Native Americans during the Indian Wars, comparing to those of Rom and Leopold.

On Rom's steamboat, Jane dines with Rom, before escaping and swimming to shore. Jane stumbles into a group of mangani apes, where she is rescued by Rom, whose men then shoot and kill many of the apes. John saves the remaining group, reconciling with Akut, before pursuing Rom. He is cornered by Mbonga and his tribe, where it is revealed that John once killed Mbonga's only son for previously killing Kala. A defeated Mbonga tearfully accuses John of lacking honor, as his son was just a young boy when John killed him. John spares Mbonga, just as Akut and the manganis arrive to subdue the tribe. Rom takes Jane and the diamonds to Boma, where he plans to take control of the army. John, Williams and Akut trigger a massive stampede of wildebeest through Boma, destroying the town and distracting the soldiers, allowing John to rescue Jane. As Rom attempts to escape by boat, Williams sinks it with a machine gun as John swims aboard. Rom incapacitates John by strangling him and then tying him by the neck to the ship's railing, before trying to escape again. John then summons crocodiles with a mating call to devour Rom, before escaping the destroyed vessel himself.

Williams returns to England and presents the Prime Minister with evidence exposing the slave trade in the African Congo. One year later, John and Jane, having remained in Africa and settled in Jane's father's old house, welcome their first child, as John, Lord Greystoke, returns to his rightful place among the great apes as Tarzan.

Cast[edit]

  • Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan / John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke.[5] On his character Tarzan, Skarsgård said, "This is about a man who’s holding back and slowly as you peel off the layers, he reverts back to a more animalistic state and lets that side of his personality out."[6] To get in Tarzan shape, Skarsgård spent four months in a training regimen before principal photography started and gained 24 pounds.[6][7] Part of his training was for movement work with choreographer Wayne McGregor.[7][8]
    • Rory J. Saper as 18 Year Old Tarzan
    • Christian Stevens as 5 Year Old Tarzan
  • Margot Robbie as Jane Porter Clayton, Lady Greystoke;[9] Tarzan's wife.
  • Samuel L. Jackson as George Washington Williams, an American entrepreneur and a veteran of the American Civil War [11][12]
  • Christoph Waltz as Captain Léon Rom,[13] a corrupt merciless Belgian captain sent by King Leopold of Belgium to find diamonds and control the region.
  • Djimon Hounsou as Chief Mbonga,[14] the leader of the leopard men of Opar (an African tribe that controls the diamond region), who wants revenge against Tarzan for the death of his son.
  • Jim Broadbent as the British Prime Minister
  • Casper Crump as Major Kerckhover, Rom's violent first lieutenant[15]
  • Hadley Fraser as John Clayton II, Tarzan's father
  • Genevieve O'Reilly as Alice Clayton, Tarzan's mother
  • Yule Masiteng as Muviro, the tribe leader
  • Mimi Ndiweni as Eshe
  • Simon Russell Beale as Mr. Frum[16][17]
  • Matt Cross as Akut, Tarzan's adoptive ape brother, Kala's biological son, and the current leader of the Mangani.
  • Madeleine Worrall as Kala, Tarzan's adoptive ape mother and the biological mother of Akut[18]
  • William Wollen as Kerchak, the former leader of the Magani who killed Tarzan's father and hates Tarzan.[18]

John Hurt was originally going to be part of the cast, but was cut from the movie.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

An updated version of Tarzan had been in the works since at least 2003, with John August writing.[19] However, by 2008, it was reported that a different version, co-written by Stephen Sommers and Stuart Beatle, that was said to resemble the Pirates of the Caribbean series, was in development.[20][21] By 2011, Craig Brewer, who also rewrote a version of the script, was set to direct the film,[22] although this did not come to pass. Instead, David Yates was chosen to direct in 2012.[3] Other directors in the running included Susanna White and Gary Ross.[23] In April 2013, it was reported that the production was temporarily suspended due to budgetary concerns.[24]

Casting[edit]

For a while, producer Jerry Weintraub (no relation to the 50s and 60s Tarzan producer Sy Weintraub) wanted swimmer Michael Phelps to play the title role, feeling that he was the heir apparent to Johnny Weissmuller, the actor who had famously played Tarzan, and who was also a prominent competitive swimmer. Weintraub changed his mind after watching Phelps host Saturday Night Live, reportedly deciding against the decision after watching the episode for only two minutes.[25] Other early contenders for the role included Henry Cavill, Tom Hardy, and Charlie Hunnam.[3][26] On November 14, 2012, Alexander Skarsgård was cast in the title role, the choice of director Yates, while Samuel L. Jackson was being eyed to play Williams in the film.[5] Yates found Skarsgård to be the perfect Tarzan. He liked that he was born in Sweden but had found a career in America, so "he has this wonderful quality of not quite belonging to one or the other", he said.[6] On March 6, 2013, it was reported that Yates wanted Jessica Chastain to play the female lead role, Jane Porter.[27] On September 26, 2013, Christoph Waltz was in talks to play the villain in the film; he was later cast, as Captain Rom.[13]

The studio eyed Margot Robbie and Emma Stone to play the female lead character, Jane Porter.[11] Emma Watson (who worked with Yates on the last four Harry Potter films), Sarah Bolger, Georgina Haig, Lucy Hale, Lyndsy Fonseca, Eleanor Tomlinson, Gabriella Wilde, Lucy Boynton and Cressida Bonas were all considered for the part. On January 18, 2014, Robbie was confirmed to play the female lead, Jane, in the film, opposite Skarsgård, beating Stone for the role.[9] On June 4, Djimon Hounsou was set to play Chief Mbonga in the film.[14] On June 17, Osy Ikhile was added to the cast to play a supporting role, but the character was not then named.[28] Ella Purnell was later cast as young Jane Porter,[10] and Casper Crump was cast to play Captain Kerchover.[15] The release of the first trailer in December 2015 revealed that Jim Broadbent was also part of the cast.

Filming[edit]

Principal photography on the film commenced on June 30, 2014, at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, UK.[29][30] Filming had begun on the day an announcement was made for the expansion of the studio.[31] Filming wrapped the same year on October 3.[32] Making Africa seem authentic was especially important to the filmmakers, since the film was shot in England, except for six weeks in Gabon, filming background without the cast. A working waterfall and a 100-foot-long collapsible pier were assembled at Warner Bros.’ Leavesden studios.[33] According to The Wall Street Journal, shooting the film in Africa would have made the budget even higher.[33] Filming took place for a total of 70 days.[34]

Soundtrack[edit]

The Legend of Tarzan: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album / Film score by Rupert Gregson-Williams
Released June 16, 2016
24 June 2016 (CD)
Recorded 2016
Genre Film score
Length 71:19
Label WaterTower Music
Producer Rupert Gregson-Williams
Rupert Gregson-Williams film scores chronology
The Do-Over
(2016)The Do-Over2016
The Legend of Tarzan
(2016)
Singles from The Legend of Tarzan: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  1. "Better Love"
    Released: 2016

The film's score was composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams. The soundtrack was released on June 16, 2016 by WaterTower Music and on CD on 24 June 2016. Hozier provided a single, Better Love, which was played at the film's end credits.[35]

Release[edit]

The film was released on July 1, 2016 by Warner Bros., in traditional formats as well as 3D and IMAX 3D.[4]

Home media[edit]

The film was released in October 11, 2016, in traditional formats, Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Blu-ray.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The Legend of Tarzan grossed $126.6 million in the United States and Canada and $230.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $356.7 million.[2] Deadline financial analysts state that the film lost the studio an estimated $40 million (though the studio, itself, asserts the film broke even). Given its $180 million production budget, it would have had to have earn at least $400 million to break even and justify a sequel.[36][37]

In the United States and Canada, The Legend of Tarzan opened alongside The BFG and The Purge: Election Year, and was projected to gross to $25–33 million in its opening weekend.[36][38][39] It opened Friday, July 1, 2016 across 3,561 theaters and 6,700 screens, and grossed $14 million on its opening day, including $1.4 million in IMAX showings.[40] This includes $2.6 million it made from Thursday night previews.[41] In its opening weekend, buoyed by positive word of mouth, the film grossed a better-than-expected $38.5 million, of which IMAX contributed $3.9 million, and $45.6 million over its four-day Independence Day holiday frame, finishing second place at the box office behind Finding Dory, but first among new releases. However, despite its opening numbers, Deadline.com called the film a "dud", due to its lofty budget.[42][43]

Internationally, The Legend of Tarzan received a scattered release pattern, in order to take advantage of the competitive landscape surrounding the 2016 European Championship.[44] It is likely that a recoup of the film's hefty production budget will be dependent on international audiences and returns. Jeff Goldstein, Warner's executive vice president of domestic distribution, told The New York Times, "This property has always really been about the international opportunity."[45] The film opened across 19 markets on the same weekend it debuted in North America, including major territories like Russia and South Korea.[36] In its opening weekend, it grossed $19.3 million on about 6,700 screens, and an IMAX total of $1.2 million from 122 IMAX theaters.[44] In Russia and the CIS, it opened with $3.1 million, debuting in first place at the box office. However, it was the lowest No. 1 opening for a film since April,[46] while in South Korea it debuted at No. 2, with $4 million. In the latter market, it faced significant competition from local films Familyhood and The Hunt, both of which performed strongly.[44][47] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, it came in second place with $4.7 million, including previews, debuting behind the animated The Secret Life of Pets, and in Australia with $3.2 million, behind Finding Dory.[48] Elsewhere, Asia had No. 1 openings in India, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. The studio also reported No. 1 debuts in Mexico ($4.6 million), Brazil ($3.4 million), Spain ($1.8 million), Italy ($1.6 million), the majority of Eastern European markets, and Puerto Rico.[44][48][49][50] Germany ($2 million), the UAE ($1.6 million), and Japan ($1.5 million) had similar opening figures.[51]

In China – the film's second biggest market – the film was granted a rare release date in the month of July, a peculiar move since July is typically the month when Chinese regulators ban foreign films (including Hollywood films) in order to protect and promote their own local films.[52][53] It opened on Tuesday, July 19, and made $7 million on its opening day. It went on to deliver a six-day opening of around $27 million and a three-day weekend opening of $12 million. Although the opening number was regarded strong, it came in second place, behind Skiptrace, which occupied a market share in excess of 56%, in comparion to The Legend of Tarzan's 16%.[50][54]

In terms of total earnings, its biggest markets outside of the United States are China ($45.1 million), Mexico ($13.7 million) and the U.K. and Ireland ($11.9 million).[55]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 36% based on 210 reviews with an average rating of 5.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Legend of Tarzan has more on its mind than many movies starring the classic character, but that isn't enough to make up for its generic plot or sluggish pace."[56] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 44 out of 100 based on 41 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[57] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[58]

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, stating "What makes it more enjoyable than a lot of recycled stories of this type is that the filmmakers have given Tarzan a thoughtful, imperfect makeover."[59] In his review, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone stated "At least it's watchable. In summer, baby, that's high praise."[60]

Peter Debruge of Variety gave the film a negative review, stating "A talky and mostly turgid attempt by British director David Yates to build on the epic vision he brought to the final four Harry Potter movies via another beloved literary hero."[61] Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian criticized the film for its story and writing, stating "Committed performances aren’t enough to save this film from uncomfortable colonial optics, uninspiring CGI and tedious plotlines."[62]

Accolades[edit]

IMDb named The Legend of Tarzan as one of its Top 10 Movies of 2016, as in being among the "most consistently popular with IMDb users this past year,"[63] by noting:

The classic character swung back onto movie screens with Alexander Skarsgård as the king of the swingers and Christoph Waltz as the scenery-chewing villain. But it was IMDb’s top star of 2016, Margot Robbie, who proved the star of the show and showed that Tarzan’s Jane could be more than just a damsel in distress.[64]
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Alliance of Women Film Journalists December 21, 2016 Actress Most in Need of a New Agent Margot Robbie (also for Suicide Squad) Nominated [65]
[66]
Jupiter Awards March 29, 2017 Best International Actress Margot Robbie Nominated [67]
Saturn Awards June 28, 2017 Best Action or Adventure Film The Legend of Tarzan Pending [68]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]