IMHO: 10 November 2002
Page 3 of 12

I can dream, can't I?

Every time someone raises the topic of a new Avengers movie, I get lost in a reverie both pleasant and torturous. You see, I tried to produce one.

You may rightfully claim that I did not try hard enough. That is a very fair judgment. My only defense is that I must earn a living to keep a roof over my head. I have a full-time job that keeps me very busy, leaving no time to jet around the countryside making big business propositions.

But I can also say that I did come close. My screenplay has had a few reasonably significant eyeballs on it, and were it not for the fact that it would probably cost a king's ransom just to sit down with Jerry Weintraub, it might be in production right now.

So, for the present, all I can do is dream. And there is quite a bit of company in my boat. Naturally, everyone has their own ideas on what a proper Avengers movie should be like; permit me to do some harping on the subject.

One contentious issue has to do with an appropriate time setting: contemporary or period piece? I am passionately opposed to the former. Steed and Emma are products of the 60s; they look positively ludicrous in a present-day setting. Mind you, a decent twenty-first-century version of the show might be feasible, but the lead characters would have to be modern counterparts of our duo, not the originals. And for those of us who pine for further adventures of Steed and Emma, that simply would not do.

Some individuals—among them a TV/film producer and good friend of Patrick Macnee—assert that an Avengers film can only star Macnee. Sadly, when said producer found out that I had no desire to tap Macnee for the role, he informed me in no uncertain terms that he wanted nothing to do with my project.

Come on, boys and girls, how unrealistic is that? While I agree that Macnee and Rigg pretty much invented their characters, I must say it's rather narrow-minded to insist that it would be impossible to find a pair of actors who could create a satisfying new couple in the Steed and Emma vein. More than anything else, it boils down to finding the right chemistry. Granted, casting might take quite a bit longer than usual, but I do believe it is not impossible.

Speaking of casting, another bad habit of fans when discussing an Avengers film is always trying desperately to force known actors into the roles. I maintain that this is futile as well as impractical. Remember, please, that Macnee and Rigg were unknowns when the series premiered. A pair of fresh faces would not only be much more economical, but would eliminate the problem of the audience seeing the stars and not the characters. (Hugh Grant, for example, might make a decent Steed, but then the audience would see Hugh Grant playing Steed instead of Steed. Not to mention what his price tag would be like...)

And then there is the whole question of whether or not to even make a theatrical release. My inclination is to produce a TV movie instead. The Avengers was a small-screen phenomenon, and I believe it works best there. Besides, a TV movie would play to a wider audience, neatly avoiding the business need to appeal to a demographic that likely wouldn't appreciate the work as much as, say, boomers who prefer waiting until films hit video.

All of this adds up to a new Avengers movie that might be produced with as little as 10% of the previous film's budget. A pittance, in the grand scheme of things. Such a modest price for so much enjoyment! And yes, to answer a question in advance, I had thought of launching a new series. I would, however, prefer to make a couple of TV movies per year, rather than weekly shows—the quality of each episode would be so much better.

So here I sit in purgatory, with a perfectly viable product on my hands and no means to act on it. Part of my inaction, though, is deliberate: I do not want to simply sell the script. You may call me an obstinate fool if you like, but I would insist on producing the film myself—independently. I am firmly convinced that, in order for it to succeed, it must remain under the strict control of someone with the proper vision. Handing the project over to anyone who is not intimate with the Avengers universe is a sure path to failure, and, as we've already witnessed, a big studio would all but destroy it. How much more painful would it be to see a labor of love mutilated than to never see it at all? Infinitely.

And that's my humble opinion.

David K. Smith, 10 November 2002

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