Despite Steven Soderbergh's exit as director of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." last week, Warner Bros. still remains committed to developing it.
"This is a movie the studio was trying to make before Soderbergh was involved," an individual close to "U.N.C.L.E." told TheWrap. "If he is truly off, it's hard to believe the studio won't want to make it with someone else."
Indeed, Warner's has wanted to adapt the '60s television show as a movie for nearly 20 years. Over the years, Quentin Tarantino, Matthew Vaughn ("X-Men: First Class") and David Dobkin ("Wedding Crashers") have been tied to the film — and Dobkin remains on board as a producer.
The studio "doesn't think there's millions and millions of rabid 'U.N.C.L.E' fans out there, but they do recognize that the brand has some mythology to it," the individual said. "It's a major franchise they have wanted for over a decade now and a script they're very happy with."
For a short time, the espionage thriller set in the 1960s seemed to be moving at a quick clip. Soderbergh, who has delivered Warner Bros. hits including "Ocean's Eleven," "Ocean's Twelve," "Ocean's Thirteen" and "Contagion," brought a new level of excitement to the movie. There was talk that "Oceans" actor George Clooney — who also worked with Soderbergh on the 1998 "Out of Sight," the 2002 "Solaris" and the 2006 "The Good German" — would play the lead role of Napoleon Solo.
But then Clooney decided against it.
The studio acknowledged this fall that it wanted Bradley Cooper to take the part, but talks with the actor fizzled.
An individual close to the studio said that Warner's and Soderbergh couldn't agree on some casting issues and were at odds over budget.
The individual said that the studio continues to look for another director to take on the project — and noted that despite the buzz, "U.N.C.L.E." hadn't yet been greenlit.
That individual compared "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." to "Akira," another Warner's project that has gone through a succession of directors and writers. Before Jaume Collet-Serra became attached this past July, Ruairi Robinson and Albert Hughes were attached to direct.