The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (film)

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The League of
Extraordinary Gentlemen
File:The league of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Norrington
Produced by
Screenplay by James Dale Robinson
Based on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by
Alan Moore
Kevin O'Neill
Music by Trevor Jones
Cinematography Dan Laustsen
Edited by Paul Rubell
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July 11, 2003 (2003-07-11)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • United States[2]
Language English
Budget $78 million[3]
Box office $179.3 million[3]

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, also promoted as LXG, is a 2003 adventure film loosely based on the first volume of the comic book series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. It was released on July 11, 2003, in the United States, and distributed by 20th Century Fox. 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.

As with the comic book source material, the film features prominent pastiche and crossover themes[4] set in the late 19th century, featuring 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 $175 million worldwide at the box office, rental revenue of $48.6 million, and DVD sales as of 2003 at $36.4 million.[5] It was intended to spawn a film franchise based on further titles in the original comic book series but there was little enthusiasm for a sequel. The film marked Sean Connery's last on-screen film appearance before his retirement.


In 1899, men dressed as German soldiers, using a large armored vehicle and wielding machine guns, attack the Bank of England and steal Leonardo da Vinci’s layouts of Venice’s foundations. Shortly thereafter, led by their leader the “Fantom”, men dressed as British officers, again using highly advanced technology for the time, kidnap German scientists and destroy a factory, causing tension between the United Kingdom and Germany. Sanderson Reed (Tom Goodman-Hill) of the British Empire ventures to Kenya, visiting a Gentleman's club to recruit world-renowned hunter and adventurer Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery). Quatermain, retired and mourning the loss of his son after his last adventure, has no interest in serving the British Empire further. After armed men attempt to assassinate Quatermain, he is left with no-other choice but to agree to go with Reed to London and meet with Reed's superior officer to help keep the threat of a war from spilling into Africa.

In London, Quatermain meets "M" (Richard Roxburgh), Reed’s superior officer, who explains that the Fantom plans to destroy Venice to prevent a meeting between the leaders of the world, his ultimate goal being to start a war on a world-sized scale and arms race to profit from sale of his weapons. To combat the Fantom, a team of unique individuals, known as the "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", is being assembled – consisting of Quatermain himself, Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), chemist and Vampire/Daywalker/Dhampir Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), and invisible thief Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran). M sends the group to recruit their fifth member, immortal Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend), who remains youthful while a currently missing portrait of himself ages. Despite Dorian's past infatuation with Mina, he refuses to join the team. The Fantom and his assassins attack, but thanks to the presence of U.S. Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer (Shane West) the assassins are defeated, although the Fantom escapes. Dorian and Sawyer join the team and set off in Captain Nemo's submarine, the Nautilus, to recruit their final member, Mr. Hyde/Dr. Jekyll (Jason Flemyng), currently in exile in Paris.

After capturing Hyde in Paris, Quatermain negotiates with him into joining the team in exchange for amnesty for his past crimes. On the way to Venice, it eventually becomes clear that there is a traitor on board when a camera’s flash powder is found in the ship’s wheelhouse and one of Dr. Jekyll's transformation formulas goes missing. Suspicion falls on Skinner, but he has disappeared.

Upon the League's arrival in Venice, bombs planted beneath the city begin to destroy buildings in a domino effect. Nemo concludes they can stop the chain reaction by destroying a building out of sequence using one of the Nautilus’ missiles. Quatermain, Sawyer, Mina, and Dorian take Nemo's automobile to outrun the chain reaction, with Dorian and Mina leaping out to fight the Fantom's men. Quatermain spots the Fantom and confronts him, revealing him to be M. Meanwhile, Sawyer manages to signal for the missile to be launched and what's left of Venice is saved. Dorian returns to the ship and attempts to kill Nemo's first mate Ishmael (Terry O'Neill), revealing him as the traitor. Ishmael, close to death, is just able to tell the League of Dorian's treachery before he dies. Dorian escapes in the Nautilus' exploration pod. A phonograph record made by M is found, M explaining his true goal was to gather samples of the physical elements of the team's supernatural members, to make superhuman formulas to sell to the highest paying countries, and Dorian revealing bombs are hidden on the submarine. The bombs detonate, damaging the sub, but Hyde drains the flooding water from the Nautilus’ engine rooms. Skinner, who stowed away on Dorian’s pod, messages the group using morse code to follow his lead.

The Nautilus travels up the Amur River to northern Mongolia where the league reunites with Skinner. Skinner reveals that M runs a factory where weaponized versions of the Nautilus are being constructed, along with other advanced weapons and formulas created by the kidnapped scientists to replicate the League's supernatural powers. The league break into the factory and split up: Nemo and Hyde free the scientists and their families; Skinner sets bombs to destroy the factory; and Quatermain and Sawyer go after M, who is revealed to be Professor James Moriarty. Mina confronts Dorian and is finally able to kill him by unveiling his portrait to him. Nemo and Hyde manage to free the scientists and their families, but are confronted by Moriarty's troops. Nemo and Hyde are able to dispatch the soldiers, but Moriarty's right-hand man, Dante, drains a large flask of Hyde's formula, transforming him into an over-muscled, rage-filled abomination, until he is eventually killed in the factory's collapse when Skinner's charges go off. Quatermain fights Moriarty, who points out Sawyer has been taken captive by Reed, who has been turned invisible. Quatermain shoots Reed, but is then fatally stabbed by Moriarty, who then escapes out of a window with the collection of formulas. Sawyer manages to use Quatermain's teachings to shoot Moriarty dead from afar, the formulas sinking into the icy waters below.

Quatermain is buried in Kenya beside his son, but the other league members recall his story of how a witch doctor, whose village he had once saved, blessed him, saying that Africa would never allow him to die. After Sawyer, Mina, Nemo, Skinner and Dr. Jekyll depart, the witch doctor appears and performs a ritual. The grounds shakes and rumbles, dirt rolls, and the shaking becomes more and more violent. A bolt of lightning strikes Quatermain's grave, leaving the result ambiguous.



Principal photography took place in Hungary,[6] Malta, and the Czech Republic.[7]

A character named Eva Draper (Winter Ave Zoli), the daughter of German scientist Karl Draper, was removed during editing but remained in some of the promotional material. Eva had appeared in two scenes: one ended up on the cutting room floor, and she was digitally replaced with a different character in the other. A brief fight scene featuring Tom Sawyer and the replacement character was rotoscoped into the film. The deleted scenes which feature Draper appear on the DVD.

Connery reportedly had many disputes with director[8] Stephen Norrington. He did not attend the opening party, and when Connery was asked where the director could be, he is said to have replied, "Check the local asylum." Norrington reportedly did not like the studio supervision and is "uncomfortable" with large crews.[9]

For the script, the character "The Invisible Man" was changed to "An Invisible Man" since Fox was unable to obtain the rights to the title character of H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man, and his name was changed from "Hawley Griffin" to "Rodney Skinner". The Fu Manchu character was also dropped from the script. At Fox's request, the character of Tom Sawyer was added for American audiences and to give the movie some "youth appeal". Producer Don Murphy, who described the request as a "stupid studio note", later said that the move to add Sawyer was "brilliant".[9]

The studio put pressure on the filmmakers for a summer release. Some staff at Fox wanted it to be released in the fall, but according to the Los Angeles Times, Fox already had Master and Commander lined up for the fall. The production ran into trouble when a special effects set did not pan out as intended, forcing the filmmakers to have to quickly look for another effects shop.[9]

Connery was paid USD$17 million for his role, which left the filmmakers little money to attract other big-name stars for the ensemble cast.[9]

In an interview with The Times, Kevin O'Neill, illustrator of the comics, said he believed the film failed 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".[10] 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."[11]


In 2003, Larry Cohen and Martin Poll filed a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox, claiming the company had intentionally plagiarized their script Cast of Characters. According to the BBC, the lawsuit alleged "that Mr Cohen and Mr Poll pitched the idea to Fox several times between 1993 and 1996, under the name Cast of Characters,"[12][13][14] and that Fox had solicited the comics series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as a smoke screen.[12][13][14] It noted that the films shared public domain characters who did not appear in the comic book series.[15] Although Fox denied the allegations as "absurd nonsense",[14] the case was settled out of court, a decision Alan Moore, according to the New York Times "took ... as an especially bitter blow, believing that [he] had been denied the chance to exonerate [himself]."[16]


Box office

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

Critical reaction to the film was generally unfavorable, with 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'.[19] A 30/100 approval rating on Metacritic is based on 36 reviews.[20] Rotten Tomatoes reports 17% of 177 reviews being positive, with an average rating of 4/10.[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]

Other media

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.[23] DVD sales meanwhile gathered revenue of $36,400,000.[23]

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.[citation needed]


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."[24] John Davis told Collider in an interview that the reboot will be a Female Centric film.[25]

See also


  1. "THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. July 11, 2003. Retrieved August 16, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". British Film Institute. London. Retrieved November 10, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) - Box Office Mojo".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Tobey, Matthew. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Allmovie. Retrieved November 10, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "The Numbers: Box Office Data". Retrieved 4 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Movies; Hungary plans huge studio, luring film world :[HOME EDITION]. " Los Angeles Times [Los Angeles, Calif.] June 4, 2004, E.13. Los Angeles Times.
  7. 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. 17 November 2002,E.6. Los Angeles Times.
  8. STUART CAMERON. "HAS SEAN MADE HIS LAST MOVIE? ; Mystery as 007 legend quits film role :[SCOTS Edition]. " The Daily Mirror [London (UK)] 30 September 2004,9.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 John Horn. "Heroic effort?; Audiences are the last hurdle for a beleaguered 'League'. :[HOME EDITION]. " Los Angeles Times. 14 July 2003,E.1. Los Angeles Times
  10. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>(registration required)
  11. Johnston, Rich (23 May 2005). "Lying in the Gutters". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 7 January 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Gentlemen lands Fox in $100m lawsuit", Saturday, September 27, 2003. Calcutta Telegraph.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Producer and Writer File $100 Million Lawsuit Against 20th Century-Fox", September 25, 2003. Business Wire. Archived on 2008-05-28.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 "Studio sued over superhero movie". BBC. 26 September 2003. Retrieved 2008-05-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Archived on 2008-05-16.
  15. Barber, Nicholas, "Notices: Cinema opening this week". The Independent on Sunday (London); October 26, 2003; p. 39
  16. Itzkoff, David (March 12, 2006). "The Vendetta Behind 'V for Vendetta'". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-05-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Foreign Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-05-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Empire magazine. Retrieved 2011-05-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Metacritic. Retrieved 2011-05-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2011-05-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-05-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. 23.0 23.1 "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2011-01-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "{TB EXCLUSIVE} Fox Enters Development on "The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen" Reboot - The Tracking Board". The Tracking Board.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Goldberg, Matt (August 13, 2015). "'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' Reboot to Be Female-Centric". Collider.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links