For getting on fifteen years now, Working Title, the biggest dog in the U.K. production company world, have carved out a severely profitable niche in family comedies that, while they barely make an impact in the U.S. market, manage hugely impressive grosses internationally — a remarkable feat, considering that comedy is the hardest genre to translate successfully. Starting with the biggest, “Bean,” in 1997 (which managed a haul of $250 million worldwide, five times the U.S. take), they’ve come along every few years, with one equally successful sequel to that film, “Mr. Bean’s Holiday,” and a pair of “Nanny McPhee” pictures
This year’s entry marks the sequel to 2002’s hit “Johnny English,” another success for British comedian Rowan Atkinson, a spy parody based loosely on a character that the actor played in a series of adverts for Barclay’s bank in the 1990s. The follow-up, “Johnny English Reborn,” has been a long time coming, but it hits theaters later in the year, and the first trailer for the film has made an appearance over at Hey U Guys.
Opening with what seems to be a sort of riff on “Batman Begins” the spot is an unsurprisingly fairly painful couple of minutes — there’s one fairly decent gag (English’s slowly-sinking chair), but for the most part, it involves nutshots and slapstick. The film has a surprisingly high-profile cast, with rising star Daniel Kaluuya, Gillian Anderson, “The Wire” veteran Dominic West (who’s only saved from reaching the nadir of his career here by “Punisher: War Zone“) and Bond franchise veterans Toby Stephens and Rosamund Pike.
Not shockingly, all involved seem to be playing straight man to Atkinson — who does, at least, have funny bones, but we’re still a little confused by the idea of assembling actors like West and Pike and then wasting them completely. The script is by Hamish McColl (“Mr. Bean’s Holiday“) and William Davies (“How To Train Your Dragon“) while Oliver Parker, who suggested he was entirely incompetent in his handling of the “St. Trinian’s” films, is directing. Still, whatever we think, this’ll make a ton of money in Europe and elsewhere, even if it’s unlikely to suddenly take off in the States. “Johnny English Reborn” opens in the U.K. on October 7th, but there’s as yet no word on a U.S. release — we’d wager January or February 2012.