The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (film)

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The League of
Extraordinary Gentlemen
The league of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Norrington
Produced by
Screenplay byJames Dale Robinson
Based onThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
by Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill
Starring
Music byTrevor Jones
CinematographyDan Laustsen
Edited byPaul Rubell
Production
companies
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 11, 2003 (2003-07-11) (United States)
  • October 17, 2003 (2003-10-17) (United Kingdom)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
Countries
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Germany[2]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$78 million[3]
Box office$179.3 million[3]

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, also promoted as LXG, is a 2003 dieselpunk superhero film loosely based on the first volume of the comic book series of the same name by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. Distributed by 20th Century Fox, it was released on 11 July 2003 in the United States, and 17 October 2003 in the United Kingdom. It was directed by Stephen Norrington and starred Sean Connery, Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemyng and Richard Roxburgh. It was the final live-action acting role for Connery before his retirement in 2006 and death in 2020.

As with the comic book source material, the film features prominent pastiche and crossover themes[4] set in the late 19th century. It features an assortment of fictional literary characters appropriate to the period who act as Victorian era superheroes. It draws on the works of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Bram Stoker, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard, Ian Fleming, Herman Melville, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, Gaston Leroux, and Mark Twain, albeit all adapted for the film.

The film grossed over $179 million worldwide at the box office, rental revenue of $48.6 million, and DVD sales as of 2003 at $36.4 million.[5]

Plot[edit]

In 1899, a terrorist group led by the Fantom breaks into the Bank of England, steals Leonardo da Vinci's blueprints of Venice's foundations, and kidnaps several German scientists. The British Empire sends Sanderson Reed to Kenya Colony to recruit adventurer and hunter Allan Quatermain, who had retired following the death of his son. Quatermain at first refuses until a group of assassins is sent to kill him, resulting in the death of his longtime friend, Nigel. In London, Quatermain meets "M", who explains that the Fantom plans to start a world war by bombing a secret meeting of world leaders in Venice. To prevent this, M is forming the latest generation of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, consisting of Quatermain, Captain Nemo, vampire chemist Mina Harker, and invisible thief Rodney Skinner.

The League travels to the London Docklands to recruit Dorian Gray, Mina's former lover who is immortal due to a missed cursed portrait. The Fantom's assassins attack but the League, aided by U.S. Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer, fends them off. Gray and Sawyer join the League. They then capture Edward Hyde in Paris, who transforms back into his alter ego, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and joins the League after being offered amnesty. The League travels to Venice in Nemo's submarine, the Nautilus, but they soon deduce there may be a mole on board when a camera's flash powder residue is found in the wheelhouse and one of Jekyll's transformation formulas disappears. Suspicion falls on the missing Skinner.

The Nautilus arrives in Venice just as the bombs detonate, causing the city to start collapsing. Sawyer uses Nemo's automobile to stop the destruction, while Quatermain confronts the Fantom, who is unmasked as M. Dorian, the traitor, murders Nemo's first mate Ishmael and steals the Nautilus's exploration pod. M and Dorian leave a phonograph recording for the League declaring that their true goal is to ignite the world war, and that Dorian has been collecting physical elements of the League to create a heavily armed version of the Nautilus, invisible spies, vampire assassins, and Hyde-like soldiers, and to sell the superhuman formulas off to the highest bidder. The Nautilus is damaged by bombs hidden on board, but Hyde saves it by draining the flooded engine rooms. Skinner secretly messages the League, informing them that he has snuck aboard the exploration pod and telling them to follow his heading.

The League reaches northern Mongolia where it reunites with Skinner and plots to destroy M's factory with explosives. Nemo and Hyde rescue the scientists, Skinner sets the explosive charges, and Mina battles and eventually kills Dorian by exposing him to his portrait. Quatermain and Sawyer confront M and identify him as Professor James Moriarty, longtime archenemy of genius detective Sherlock Holmes who had changed identities following his alleged death at the Reichenbach Falls. Sawyer is taken hostage by an invisible Reed; Quatermain shoots the latter, only to be fatally stabbed by Moriarty. Moriarty flees but Sawyer shoots him and the formulas sink into the icy water. Quatermain then dies.

Quatermain is buried beside his son in Kenya. The surviving League members recall how a witch doctor had blessed Quatermain for saving his village, promising that Africa would never let him die. The remaining League members depart, agreeing to continue using their powers for good in the coming 20th century. Following this, the witch doctor arrives and performs a ritual that summons an unnatural storm, with a bolt of lightning striking the rifle Sawyer left on Quatermain's grave.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Writing[edit]

Because 20th Century Fox was unable to secure the rights to the eponymous character of H. G. Wells' 1897 novel, the script referred to "The Invisible Man" as "An Invisible Man", and his name was changed from Hawley Griffin to Rodney Skinner. The Fu Manchu character was dropped. At the request of the studio, the character of Tom Sawyer was added to increase the film's appeal to American audiences and the youth demographic, a move that producer Don Murphy initially dismissed as a "stupid studio note" but later described as "brilliant".[6]

Casting[edit]

After previously turning down the roles of the Architect in The Matrix trilogy and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the latter of which would reportedly have earned him $450 million, Connery agreed to appear as Quatermain for $17 million, a sum that left the filmmakers with little flexibility to attract other high-profile stars for the ensemble cast.[7][8][6]

A character named Eva Draper (Winter Ave Zoli), daughter of German scientist Karl Draper, remained visible in promotional materials despite not appearing in the final cut of the film.[citation needed]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography took place in Hungary,[9] Malta, and the Czech Republic.[10]

The studio pressured filmmakers for a summer release because Master and Commander was slated for a fall release. The production encountered delays when a special effects set failed to perform as intended, forcing the filmmakers to quickly look for another effects shop.[6]

Connery reportedly had many disputes with director Stephen Norrington.[11] Norrington did not attend the opening party and, upon being asked where the director could be, Connery is said to have replied, "Check the local asylum." Norrington reportedly did not like the studio supervision and was "uncomfortable" with large crews.[6]

Lawsuit[edit]

In 2003, Larry Cohen and Martin Poll sued 20th Century Fox for intentionally plagiarizing their script Cast of Characters, which they had pitched to the studio between 1993 and 1996. Noting that the scripts shared public-domain characters had not appeared in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel series,[12] the suit accused Fox of soliciting the series as a smokescreen.[13][14][15] Fox denied the allegations as "absurd nonsense"[15] but settled out of court, a decision Alan Moore believed "denied [him] the chance to exonerate" himself.[16]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The film opened at #2 behind Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.[17] The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen grossed an estimated $66,465,204 in Canada and the United States, $12,603,037 in the United Kingdom, and $12,033,033 in Spain. Worldwide, the film took $179,265,204.[18]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 17% based on reviews from 185 critics, with an average rating of 4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Just ordinary. LXG is a great premise ruined by poor execution."[19] On Metacritic it has a score of 30% based on reviews from 36 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[20] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale.[21]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film one star out of a possible four, stating, "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen assembles a splendid team of heroes to battle a plan for world domination, and then, just when it seems about to become a real corker of an adventure movie, plunges into ... inexplicable motivations, causes without effects, effects without causes, and general lunacy."[22] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave it 1 out of 4 and wrote: "Except for Connery, who is every inch the lion in winter, nothing here feels authentic."[23] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a grade "C-".[24] Empire magazine giving it two stars out of five while criticizing the film's exposition and lack of character depth, saying it 'flirts dangerously close with one-star ignominy'.[25]

Creators' response[edit]

In an interview with The Times, Kevin O'Neill, illustrator of the comics, said he believed the film failed (with the critics) because it was not respectful of the source material. He did not recognize the characters when reading the screenplay and claimed that Norrington and Connery did not cooperate. Finally, O'Neill said that the comic book version of Allan Quatermain was a lot better than the movie version and that marginalising Mina Murray as a vampire "changed the whole balance".[26] The author of the comics Alan Moore was cynical of the film from early in its development, seeing that the two works bore little resemblance, distancing himself from the film altogether. "As long as I could distance myself by not seeing them," he said, he could profit from the films while leaving the original comics untouched, "assured no one would confuse the two. This was probably naïve on my part."[27]

Connery claimed that the production of the film and the film's final quality caused his decision to permanently retire from filmmaking, saying in an interview with The Times, “It was a nightmare. The experience had a great influence on me, it made me think about showbiz. I get fed up dealing with idiots.”[28] Moreover, Norrington and screenwriters O'Neill and James Dale Robinson have not worked on a live action feature length film since (as of 2020).

In other media[edit]

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen earned a total of $48,640,000 in rentals with $14,810,000 from video rentals and $33,830,000 from DVD rentals.[29] DVD sales meanwhile gathered revenue of $36,400,000.[29]

A novelization of the movie was written by Kevin J. Anderson and released shortly before the movie.

The soundtrack album was also released internationally but not in the United States.

A Blu Ray was re-released in October 2018 from Fabulous Films.[30]

Cancelled reboot[edit]

The Tracking Board reported on May 26, 2015, that 20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment had agreed to develop a reboot with hopes of launching a franchise. The report stated that a search was underway for a director who could help "continue to develop the reboot".[31] John Davis told Collider in an interview that the reboot would be a female-centric film.[32] However, plans for a reboot were scrapped after the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by Disney in 2019.[33]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. July 11, 2003. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  2. ^ "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". British Film Institute. London. Archived from the original on September 30, 2008. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) – Box Office Mojo". boxofficemojo.com.
  4. ^ Tobey, Matthew. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Allmovie. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  5. ^ "The Numbers: Box Office Data". Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d John Horn (July 14, 2003). "Heroic effort?; Audiences are the last hurdle for a beleaguered 'League'". Los Angeles Times. p. E1.
  7. ^ Norrington, Stephen (Director) (December 16, 2003). The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (DVD). United States: 20th Century Fox.
  8. ^ "Sean Connery lost $450m refusing Gandalf role". NZ Herald. November 21, 2012. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  9. ^ "Hungary plans huge studio, luring film world". Los Angeles Times. REUTERS. June 4, 2004.
  10. ^ Bill Desowitz. "Movies; Bonds, James Bonds; Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan: 007s who've saved the world in her majesty's service :[HOME EDITION]. " Los Angeles Times. November 17, 2002, E.6. Los Angeles Times.
  11. ^ Cameron, Stuart (30 September 2004). "Has Sean Made His Last Movie?: Mystery as 007 Legend Quits Film Role", Daily Mirror (SCOTS Edition), London (UK), Page 9. Archived copy
  12. ^ Barber, Nicholas, "Notices: Cinema opening this week". The Independent on Sunday (London); October 26, 2003; p. 39
  13. ^ "Gentlemen lands Fox in $100m lawsuit", Saturday, September 27, 2003. Calcutta Telegraph.
  14. ^ "Producer and Writer File $100 Million Lawsuit Against 20th Century-Fox", September 25, 2003. Business Wire. Archived on 2008-05-28.
  15. ^ a b "Studio sued over superhero movie". BBC. September 26, 2003. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved May 16, 2008.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) on 2008-05-16.
  16. ^ Itzkoff, David (March 12, 2006). "The Vendetta Behind 'V for Vendetta'". New York Times. Retrieved May 16, 2008.
  17. ^ "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on July 8, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  18. ^ "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Foreign Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  19. ^ "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  20. ^ "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  21. ^ "LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, THE (2003) B-". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  22. ^ Roger Ebert (2003). "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  23. ^ Travers, Peter (July 11, 2003). "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Rolling Stone.
  24. ^ Owen Gleiberman (2003). "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Entertainment Weekly.
  25. ^ Danny Graydon (2003). "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Empire. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  26. ^ Vaughan, Owen (February 25, 2009). "Interview: Kevin O'Neill reveals the secrets of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Marshal Law". Times Online. Times Newspapers Limited. They changed the whole balance by marginalising Mina and making her a vampire.(registration required)
  27. ^ Johnston, Rich (May 23, 2005). "Lying in the Gutters". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on January 6, 2014. Retrieved January 7, 2006.
  28. ^ "What Went Wrong: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". www.boxofficeprophets.com. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  29. ^ a b "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  30. ^ "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". FabulousFilms.com.
  31. ^ "{TB EXCLUSIVE} Fox Enters Development on "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" Reboot – The Tracking Board". The Tracking Board.
  32. ^ Goldberg, Matt (August 13, 2015). "'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' Reboot to Be Female-Centric". Collider.
  33. ^ Geisinger, Gabriella (August 10, 2019). "Fox movies scrapped forever after Disney's big takeover". Digital Spy. Retrieved July 3, 2020.

External links[edit]