In 1993, John Davis obtained the rights for a film adaptation based on the original series. However, the film fell into development hell due to multiple script rewrites. Over the years, Matthew Vaughn, David Dobkin and Steven Soderbergh were optioned for directing until Ritchie signed on in March 2013. The film premiered at Barcelona on August 2, 2015 and was released on August 14 by Warner Bros., receiving mixed to positive reviews.
In 1963, professional thief-turned CIA agent Napoleon Solo extracts Gaby Teller, daughter of Dr. Udo Teller, an alleged Nazi scientist-turned United States collaborator at the end of World War II, from East Berlin, evading KGB operative Illya Kuryakin. He later reports to his superior, Sanders, who reveals that Gaby's maternal uncle Rudi works in a shipping company owned by Alexander and Victoria Vinciguerra, a wealthy Nazi sympathizing couple who intend to use Teller to build their own private nuclear weapon and give it to lingering Nazi elements. Due to the potentially world-ending nature of this crisis, the CIA and KGB have reluctantly teamed up, and Solo and Kuryakin are ordered to stop the Vinciguerras from succeeding, with both men secretly assigned to steal Udo Teller's research for their respective governments.
The trio travels to Rome, where Gaby and Kuryakin reluctantly pose as an engaged couple, and Solo pretends to be an antiquities dealer. Solo deduces they are being monitored and instructs Kuryakin not to defend himself from muggers so as to preserve this cover. Despite their hostilities towards each other, Kuryakin heeds his advice and does not react when his father’s prized watch is stolen. Later, at an auto racing event promoted by the Vinciguerras, Solo and Gaby flirt with Victoria and Alexander, respectively, in order to lure out information about Teller. Meanwhile Kuryakin acquires evidence the Vinciguerras were recently exposed to radiation, indicating that their weapon is near completion.
Solo and Kuryakin begrudgingly join forces to break into a Vinciguerra shipping yard, in which they find traces of uranium. After accidentally setting off the alarm, they escape into the water only to find their way blocked. During the ensuing scuffle with the guards, Kuryakin nearly drowns in the waters but Solo escapes, only to surprise himself by returning to save Kuryakin. Although a suspicious Victoria pursues them with her henchmen, Solo and Kuryakin manage to slip past into their own rooms undetected, and Victoria and Solo spend the night together. The following day, Gaby meets with Rudi and Alexander to discuss a job, but unexpectedly betrays Kuryakin and Solo to them, forcing Kuryakin to escape, while Solo is drugged and captured by Victoria and taken to a nearby warehouse to be tortured in an electric chair by Rudi, who is revealed as an infamous Nazi torturer. Solo is saved by Kuryakin, who straps Rudi into the electric chair, in order to intimidate him into talking. Rudi reveals that the weapon is hidden in an island fortress, where Gaby has been reunited with her father, which is where Solo and Kuryakin head off to, with Rudi unintentionally being burnt alive due to the electric chair malfunctioning. To protect Gaby, Dr. Teller pretends to resume work on the weapon, which has a tracking system left over from when the warhead was non-nuclear, so that a second missile can home in on it for added impact, but although Gaby attempts to help her father escape and sabotage the warhead Victoria quickly sees through this deception, and has Alexander imprison Gaby, as an extra incentive for Dr. Teller. Teller quickly adds the finishing touches to the bomb, but is then shot in the head by Victoria as soon as he does.
Meanwhile, Solo and Kuryakin are approached by Alexander Waverly, a high-ranking MI6 operative who flies them on a Westland Wessex to HMS Ark Royal (R09) and reveals that Gaby is an undercover agent under his employment. He and his Special Boat Service commandos help Solo and Kuryakin infiltrate the Vinciguerras’ compound. Alexander Vinciguerra attempts to escape with Gaby and the warhead, but is intercepted and Alexander is killed by the duo. Solo secretly retrieves the disc with Teller’s research, but the warhead Vinciguerra was taking with him was the non-nuclear secondary missile, allowing Victoria to leave undetected on another boat with the real warhead. By Gaby's suggestion, having heard the weapon system explained, Solo is able to contact Victoria via radio and keep her on the line long enough for Waverly to locate her and launch the homing missile, simultaneously destroying the nuclear weapon and the boat, apparently taking Victoria with it.
Afterwards, Kuryakin confronts Solo in his hotel room, intending to kill him and steal the disc for the Soviet Union, but changes his mind when Solo produces Kuryakin's father’s stolen watch, which he had retrieved. The two instead choose to share a drink on the terrace and burn the contents of the disk, so as to not give either of their countries the upper hand in the arms race. They then reunite with Gaby and Waverly, who reveals that the trio has been reassigned to a new international organization under his command. He then announces a new mission to Istanbul under their new codename: U.N.C.L.E..
Producer John Davis optioned the film rights to the 1960s TV series in 1993, setting up a development deal for an adaptation with Warner Bros. and series producer Norman Felton. Davis has estimated that he commissioned 12 or 14 different scripts over the course of 20 years, with writers Jim and John Thomas, John Requa, Glenn Ficarra, and Scott Z. Burns. Quentin Tarantino was briefly attached following the success of Pulp Fiction, but opted to make Jackie Brown instead. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. continued to labor in development hell with directors Matthew Vaughn and David Dobkin. Steven Soderbergh was attached to direct Scott Z. Burns' screenplay, with production slated to begin in March 2012. Executives from Warner Bros. wanted the budget to stay below $60 million, but Soderbergh felt that amount would not be adequate to fund the 1960s-era sets, props, and international settings required for the film. Emily Blunt was nearly cast as the female lead, but she left the project shortly after Soderbergh departed in November 2011.
Guy Ritchie signed on in March 2013. On July 31, 2013, it was announced that Ritchie's adaptation would start filming in September 2013 in London and Italy. The final production budget was approximately $75 million US.
In November 2010, George Clooney showed interest in the film, and was in talks for the lead role of Napoleon Solo, but he left in September 2011 due to a recurring back injury. After Clooney's departure, actors including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Channing Tatum, Alexander Skarsgård, Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson, Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Michael Fassbender, Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Kinnaman, Russell Crowe, Chris Pine, Ryan Reynolds, and Jon Hamm were considered for the lead role. On March 18, 2013, Tom Cruise was in early talks to take the lead in the film. Armie Hammer was cast in the second lead role as Illya Kuryakin on April 24, 2013, with Cruise set as Solo. Swedish actress Alicia Vikander joined the film on May 8, 2013, as the female lead. On May 23, 2013, Cruise dropped out of the film, due to his commitment to Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. British actor Henry Cavill replaced Cruise. Elizabeth Debicki was cast in a femme fatale role on July 31, 2013; Rose Byrne and Charlize Theron were earlier considered for the same part. On August 8, 2013, Hugh Grant joined the cast as Alexander Waverly, the head of United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E). Jared Harris was cast as Sanders on September 4, 2013, and Luca Calvani was cast as a villain, Alexander. Simona Caparrini was also cast to play Contessa.
Principal photography on the film commenced on September 9, 2013. In October 2013, filming was being under way at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, Royal Victoria Docks, London and Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit in West Sussex, UK.
Filming took place in various locations throughout Italy, including the Gulf of Naples, and Baiae Castle. Kuryakin and Teller's first outings as an assumed couple were shot at just below the Spanish Steps; the Grand Hotel Plaza, in Via del Corso; and in the gardens of ancient Theater of Marcellus.
Two locations stood in place for Berlin sites on either side of the wall: the public toilet fight between Solo and Kuryakin was shot in Regent's Park in London, while the car chase during the movie's first act was shot in Chatham Historic Dockyard, Kent UK.
Director Guy Ritchie finalized the script throughout production: "He’s quite intuitive and tends to constantly rewrite stuff, which he does even when they’re shooting. He’ll rewrite things in the morning if they’re shooting that day, working with the actors if something doesn’t feel right." says long term collaborator David Allcock.
The musical score for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was composed by Daniel Pemberton. A soundtrack album was released by WaterTower Music on August 7, 2015 who also released a behind the scenes video showcasing the many different elements of the process. The musical score received many glowing references in reviews of the film with the LA Times noting "it is composer Daniel Pemberton who in some ways seems to understand the idea of the movie even better than Ritchie, his score featuring breathy flutes, twangy guitar, spooky harpsichord and pounding drums and organ capturing the mixture of pastiche, homage and a twist of the new in a way the rest of the film rarely matches."
The film was originally set for a January 16, 2015 release, but on August 12, 2014, Warner Bros moved the film's release date from January 16, 2015 to August 14, 2015.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 17, 2015 by Warner Home Video.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. grossed $45.4 million in North America and $64.4 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $109.8 million, against a production budget of $75 million.
The film grossed $900,000 from its early Thursday screenings and $4.8 million on its opening day. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $13.4 million, which was about $5 million below expectations, finishing 3rd at the box office.
It opened in Russia with $3.1 million. In the United Kingdom, it opened alongside Sony Pictures' Pixels, earning $2.3 million, debuting at No. 4 for Friday-Sunday, while Pixels was at No. 1 with $4.2 million, including previews during the week. Warner Bros did not preview The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Across Asia, it generated $2.7 million from six countries and $1.7 million in Australia.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was listed as one of the biggest box office bombs of 2015, with estimated losses of $50 million after theaters take their percentage.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 68%, based on 224 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Man from U.N.C.L.E. tries to distract from an unremarkable story with charismatic stars and fizzy set pieces, adding up to an uneven action thriller with just enough style to overcome its lack of substance." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 55 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale."Compared to What" – performed by Roberta Flack
"Bunter Drachen" – performed by Suzanne Doucet
"Wenn Ich Ein Junge Wär" – performed by Rita Pavone
"Cry to Me" – performed by Solomon Burke
"Five Months, Two Weeks, Two Days" – performed by Louis Prima
"Viaggio Nella Prateria" – written and conducted by Stelvio Cipriani
"Banana Freak Out" – written and performed by George Guzman
"Man From U.N.C.L.E." – Theme (Instrumental) – performed by Hugo Montenegro & His Orchestra
"Che Vuole Questa Musica Stasera?" – performed by Peppino Gagliardi
"Il Colpo" – written by Ennio Morricone
"Torture In D Minor" – performed by Sergio Pizzorno
"Jimmy Renda-Se" – performed by Tom Zé
"Il Mio Regno" – written and performed by Luigi Tenco
"Take Care of Business" – performed by Nina Simone
Wigram is reportedly working on the script for a sequel, at the suggestion of Hammer. Cavill has stated he is excited to return for the sequel.