If Matthew Vaughn is a bit disappointed that his directorial debut, “Layer Cake,” grossed a fine but not outstanding £4.4 million ($8.3 million) in the U.K., then he’s not letting on.
Before Sony released the gangster drama in October, he confessed a secret hope to break the £10 million barrier, just as he previously managed with his first two pics as a producer, Guy Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch.”
But now he says, “I feel good, relieved in some ways. We did more than our budget. I’ve been slightly spoilt. If you look at British gangster films, ‘Snatch’ did 12 (million pounds), ‘Lock, Stock’ did 11 (million) and ‘Layer Cake’ is No. 3. After that, it’s a huge drop.”
Vaughn is far too discreet to point out that while he might not have matched Ritchie’s box office, he has already surpassed his former partner in critical acclaim. With its edgy atmosphere of druggy paranoia and violence, its acute sense of London locations and fine performances from the likes of Daniel Craig and Michael Gambon, “Layer Cake” certainly achieved Vaughn’s primary aim of putting himself on the map as a filmmaker.
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“I made it as a calling card. But if I had a five-step plan, ‘Layer Cake’ put me to No. 4, when all I wanted it to do was get me to No. 2.”
The film made Vaughn a serious contender to direct both the next Harry Potter and the next James Bond, though he ended up with neither. Instead, he’s attached to Warner Bros.’ feature remake of ’60s TV spy series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” He’s working on the script with “Trainspotting” scribe John Hodge and hopes to add a few inspired twists, if Warners will allow it. He’s also developing an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel “Stardust.”
Asked to define his talents as a director, he answers, “A safe pair of hands. If I’m given a good script, I know I’ll make a good film. I don’t know yet if I can make a good film from an indifferent script. But I do know how to make a film, and you’d be surprised how many directors get hired who don’t know what they are doing.”