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The Avengers (1998) Poster

(1998)

Trivia

The Ministry archivist Colonel Invisible Jones is voiced by Patrick Macnee, who played the original John Steed.
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Jump to: Spoilers (2)
Peter Bart's book "The Gross" covered the film's unfolding disaster in great detail. Among other facts: Warner Brothers greenlit the film largely on the strength of a star-packed cast and their appreciation of Jeremiah Chechik's work on Diabolique (1996) and were horrified when seeing what the first cut was like. The first screening took place in front of a "largely Spanish-speaking, working class" audience in Phoenix, AZ who hated the film; the studio then forced Chechik to cut many of his favorite scenes and conduct reshoots; and the final cut went from 115 to 89 minutes and was completely incoherent. The studio even refused to hold further test screenings, or to have an official premiere before the film's August 1998 release.
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The original script follows the same plot structure with a few differences . The most important details , which were either altered or trimmed altogether from the finished film , are the following:
  • In the opening sequence Emma Peel is working at Prospero Weather Base with her husband Peter Peel and his brother Valentine Peel. All the scientists are dealing with climatic changes. Peter gives Emma a ring. Shortly thereafter the base is blown up. Peter and Valentine are killed in the explosion but Emma barely makes it out alive.


  • The main villain is not named De Winter but Merriweather.


  • During the course of the plot, Emma has sporadic visions with Peter talking to her. This stresses the question if she is delusional or not and if she has a split personality.


  • The murder attempt scene does not take place during a snow blizzard but at a desert. This increases the hallucinating atmosphere and makes Steed more confused after waking up, wondering if this incident was a dream or not. Evil Emma was of course riding a camel during the attack.


  • During the final scenes Emma confronted Father in a massive room full of giant mirrors.


  • In the finale it was revealed that the evil mastermind was Valentine Peel in disguise. He had staged his death, was the culprit behind the explosion and killed Peter because he wanted the ring which contained important information about the weather. In an attempt to trick Emma, Valentine initially appears as disguised Peter in order to deceive her to hand him the ring. All the visions that Emma had were staged by Valentine.


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At one point, David Fincher was interested in writing and directing the film with Charles Dance starring as John Steed.
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The film's box office failure and critical mauling, along with the equally unsuccessful and equally maligned The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), was partly responsible for Sean Connery's decision to retire from the film business.
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Speaking at the 2006 AFI Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony, Eddie Izzard said that he took a role in the film in order to meet Sean Connery.
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Sean Connery, the original James Bond on film, co-stars in this film with Uma Thurman, the second Emma Peel. Diana Rigg, the original Emma Peel, co-stars with George Lazenby, the second James Bond, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).
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The moves in the chess match between the characters Emma Peel and John Steed are the same as in the match between Roy Batty and Tyrell in Blade Runner (1982). Another reference to the film is during the fight between Sir August De Wynter and John Steed, when Sir August says "Time to die". The same line Roy Batty says to Rick Deckard during their fight in Blade Runner.
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Mel Gibson was considered for the role of John Steed.
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Nicole Kidman was unable to take the role of Emma Peel due to already being contracted to make Eyes Wide Shut (1999).
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Gwyneth Paltrow turned down the role of Emma Peel.
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Diana Rigg was sent the script with a view to her playing Alice. She passed.
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Aspects of the film, including some dialogue, hail directly from the 1960s parent series. These include the MC Escher elements of Hallucinogen Hall ("The House That Jack Built"), the weather-obsessed diabolical mastermind ("A Surfeit of H20"), the tea-whilst-travelling sequence and the 'light' swordfight repartee ("The Town of No Return"), plus Mother's double-decker bus HQ ("False Witness"); whilst The Ministry's training village was lifted from The New Avengers (1976) episode "Target!". The phrase "Mrs Peel, you're needed!" was a feature of the fifth TV season, and the trailer featured the wording "Extraordinary crimes against the people and the state must be avenged by agents extraordinary" - a misquote of the US narration (the passage was "have to be avenged" in the actual introduction).
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Last cinema film of Patrick Macnee.
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Dr. DeWynter (Sean Connery) is the Chairman of BROLLY (British Royal Organization for Lasting Liquid Years). Their logo (as seen on the brown van behind the main building) is a multi-colored umbrella. The word "brolly" is British slang for an umbrella.
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In the original script the part of Sir August was much smaller but when Sir Sean Connery joined the project he asked for the part to expanded.
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Ralph Fiennes found the whangee-handled umbrella (favoured by Macnee) uncomfortable to handle, preferring to use a smoother rosewood one instead of bamboo.
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Warner Brothers didn't preview the film for critics, never a good sign for a summer blockbuster. The film was dramatically re-edited prior to release, so sections of it failed to make sense.
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The original release date was June 26th, 1998. After poor test screenings, the film was pushed back to August 14 1998 and the June spot was filled in by A Perfect Murder (1998).
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Roger Lloyd Pack filmed scenes as a professor but the scenes were deleted from the final print.
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Michael Kamen originally began scoring the film, having impressed director Jeremiah S. Chechik with his tongue-in-cheek style on 101 Dalmatians (1996). Kamen likened the attempt to "aiming at a moving target" after being issued with five or six revised edits of the film. Because of this upheaval, he elected to work on Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) instead. Despite this, his name featured on early trailers.
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Producer Jerry Weintraub had hopes for sequels to the film, having spent around a decade trying to get the project green-lit.
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Eileen Atkins was originally offered the role of Father, but felt the machine gun-toting Alice would be more fun to play; consequently the part was enlarged for her.
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Steed drives a 4.5 litre, 6 cylinder 1928 Bentley (reg. RT 4700). Emma owns an E-type Jaguar, reg. 439 OJX (after producers scrapped the idea of a Lotus Elan as in the original series); De Wynter runs a Rolls Royce and Bailey has a black Mini Cooper with chessboard roof.
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The World Council of Ministers meet on St. Swithin's Day, 15th July. He is the patron saint of weather.
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Steed was originally to tell Tamara at Wonderland Weather that he and Mrs Peel were representatives of FLORA, the Flower Lovers of Ross and Cromarty Association.
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As well as Mrs Peel, scriptwriter Don MacPherson intentionally drew on elements of Cathy Gale, her predecessor on the original series, for his updating.
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Steeds Ralph Fiennes and Patrick Macnee met on the first day of shooting, 2nd June 1997.
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Convinced that it would be "The film event of the year", Titan Books invested heavily in the film's promotion, publishing "The Original Movie Screenplay", "The Making of the Movie", "The Movie Novelisation" and "The Official Souvenir Magazine".
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Steed reads the "Financial Times" in Boodles' sauna.
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The robot bee attack was added after Don MacPherson caught "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov on the radio.
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As Mother, Jim Broadbent was padded up to appear heavier, and smoked non-tipped Senior Service cigarettes.
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In the original script there was no cloning. Emma Peel's evil twin was a robotic replica.
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Although never addressed directly in the film, the character Father is blind. The viewers of the TV series also know that Father has an enhanced sense of hearing.
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In the TV series the characters of Steed and Emma never kissed intentionally (only under the pretext of an undercover mission). In the film however, Steed and Emma finally kiss.
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Steed and Peel get across the frozen river by "walking" on the surface inside inflatable plastic bubbles; similar to how James Bond gets aboard Blofeld's oil rig in Sean Connery's final (official) Bond film Diamonds Are Forever (1971).
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Elizabeth Hurley was considered for the role of Emma Peel.
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When Steed and Peel are chasing after two teddy bears in the Winter Wonderland headquarters, Peel decides to follow one bear up in the building, and Steed decides to follow one down. Peel says, "I'll take the high road." and Steed says, "I'll take the low road." This is a reference to the 1841 folk song "Loch Lomond".
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John Steed and Mrs Peel are invited to or partake in tea 6 times during the course of the film.
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At the time, Patrick Macnee said the shooting script was much better than half the scripts he had to perform from the run of the TV series. (That being said, the shooting script differs radically from what ended up on screen.)
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Nicholas Meyer was initially considered as director.
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Ralph Fiennes was signed while he was in the midst of filming The English Patient (1996) and before he became a breakthrough star.
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Emma Thompson was once rumored to play the Emma Peel, because of the resemblance between her and Diana Rigg.
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The film was not screened for critics because, as the Warner Brothers press office put it, "we wanted the public and the press to be able to discover the film together". Not screening a film, especially one of such a significant budget, is usually a sign that the studio has no faith in it. The film ultimately lost Warners about $40 million.
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French visa # 95238.
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Finnish censorship visa # 100851 delivered on 12-8-1998.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Eddie Izzard's character speaks only once.
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Dr Peel's clone double was referred to as Bad Emma. The duplicate part required Uma Thurman to wear amber contact lenses and darker make-up.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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