Jon Favreau has been reading comics again
Jon Favreau, fresh from delivering one of the biggest hits of the year in the form of Iron Man 2 ($600 million and counting), is taking a franchise break... to work on another comic book adaptation.
The erstwhile Friends guest star and Swingers man is now one of the most bankable directors in Hollywood after turning ol' shellhead into one of Marvel's most successful properties. He's now got a bit of time on his hands while Tony Stark hangs out with The Avengers for a bit.
Favreau has picked a comic that's world's away from superhero antics. Cowboys & Aliens is one hell of a pitch, and it seems it was that, rather than the comic itself, that grabbed his attention.
Speaking to Superhero Hype, Favs said "The property isn't what was appealing to me as much as the concept and the script."
So even if you're familiar with the comic, expect Favreau to put a fresh spin on things.
Favs has a formidable team behind him
We weren't exactly lacking in confidence in Favreau to begin with, but he's certainly got a solid team together behind the camera. Heavyweights Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are all on hand as producers, should Favs need any advice from a bunch of movie geniuses.
The script comes from the current Hollywood go-to guys, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. While the pair have knocked up some dubious scripts in the past (both Transformers outings, for example), they've proven that they can deliver the blockbuster goods with Star Trek and Mission: Impossible III .
Speaking to Collider about the script, Orci said: "We've sent ourselves back to school and we're watching Westerns together and analysing them. We're really getting into it... We just watched The Searchers ."
Kurtzman chipped in: "We had a lot of these Westerns in our head, but Jon is an incredible fountain of Western knowledge... Because he's an actor, he knows what plays and doesn't play very quickly. We're having an unbelievably good time working with him."
Here's hoping Favreau gets the best out of them.
James Bond will return!
Favreau initially had his Iron Man buddy Robert Downey Jr. pencilled in for the C&A lead, but scheduling conflicts have kept RDJ out of this one: he's busy prepping a Sherlock Holmes sequel and maybe fitting in Oz, The Great and Powerful with Sam Raimi.
Stepping into the spurred boots will be Daniel Craig, who has a bit of spare time on his hands, what with all the legal wrangling that is keeping the next Bond movie from getting out of the stables .
Craig's appointment was an interesting turn, though. He should be able to pull off the grizzled, craggy, tough-guy role in his sleep, and his recent stint on Broadway showed he could handle an American accent (and dodgy 'tache) if required.
Putting Craig in the lead role shakes things up somewhat: he should hopefully ground the story in a way that Downey Jr. and his brash charms may not have done.
Roberto Orci says of the developments: "We started the movie and the first draft was very kind of jokey and broad and then it went very serious. You kind of swing back and forth between the two extremes and the tone until you find the exact right point where a Western and a sci-fi movie can really shake hands without it seeming unnatural."
Harrison Ford could be awesome again...
Craig isn't the only exciting actor to have signed on the dotted line. The real big news came when Harrison Ford jumped aboard to play Colonel Dolarhyde, the ruler of the Arizona town that Craig's nameless wanderer finds himself in.
Orci was stoked by the casting, saying: "We've got James Bond vs. Indiana Jones. What do you want?! It's amazing."
It'll be great to see Harrison Ford having fun for a change, after the terminably boring likes of Extreme Measures and Crossing Over , and the disappointment that was Indy 4 .
He seems pretty perfect for the role of the Colonel, who, according to the official synopsis, rules the town of Absolution with an iron fist. Ford has the chance to be a multi-dimensional villain here: the townsfolk are terrified of Dolarhyde, but expect the power dynamic to shift when the UFOs attack.
This will be Wilde's West
Favreau has filled the sexy female quotient of the cast with Olivia Wilde, and Cowboys and Aliens could be the movie to cement her rise to superstardom. The House M.D. beauty has had a couple of memorable moments in so-so films ( Alpha Dog , Year One ), but the combo of TRON: Legacy followed by Cowboys should propel her into the A-list.
And Wilde seems optimistic about the flick, as she told MTV: ""With producers like Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, these are people who really care about the story, and they care about wonderment and imagination and celebrating that."
"That's what this movie's going to do. It's going to have awesome effects, but Jon Favreau and everyone else are concentrating on making a great story."
"I think that's a film that's going to be interesting for a lot of reasons," she said. "It's very different. Western enthusiasts will be happy. Sci-fi enthusiasts will also be happy."
Sexy lady enthusiasts will presumably also be happy...
The quality casting doesn't end there
Not willing to settle for the Craig-Ford-Wilde triple threat, Favs has been gathering a quality supporting cast to back up the leads.
Total Film favourite Sam Rockwell (who brings the awesome to any film he graces) is Doc, and apparently the role was rewritten when he came on board (Doc was a large Mexican in the original script).
Favreau and Rockwell must have enjoyed working together on Iron Man 2 (Justin Hammer was one of the movie's unanimous successes), and Rockwell previously earnt his Western stripes in superb style in The Assassination of Jesse James .
Paul Dano has also signed up to bring indie cred to an unspecified (we're guessing wimpy) role.
Keith Carradine, Clancy Brown and Noah Ringer (the bald kid in The Last Airbender ) round out the cast.
The premise is awesome
It's Cowboys... and Indians... versus frickin' aliens!
But it's not just a brainless effects-heavy romp. Daniel Craig will be going all Bourne (even more so than he's done in the recharged Bond series) as the amnesiac stranger who may be the one to form the necessary alliance required to fight off the alien invaders.
An early script review describes the first act as all Western, no sci-fi, and there's apparently some quality character stuff in there.
As in the comic, buried in the cool premise, for those who want it, are undertones regarding the treatment of Native Americans at the frontiers, so expect this to have more reductive theories applied to it than Avatar .
Thankfully, the script review also points to "a horse/alien speeder/train chase" among a few amazing action sequences, so don't expect this to be a boring colonial relations lecture.
This is going to be a serious Western...
If anyone is thinking that this all sounds a little too Wild Wild West for comfort, hopefully Favreau's take on the concept will go some way to assuaging those worries.
Favs told Superhero Hype: "I loved the idea of mashing up those two genres and juxtaposing a very intense alien movie up against a very sincerely played Western. We draw inspiration tonally from movies like Close Encounters and Alien and Predator for the alien side and for the Western side we're looking at John Ford, Leone, and even a little bit of Butch and Sundance ."
Those are some pretty weighty influences, and we're desperately hoping that Favreau can pull it off. It sounds potentially a lot more intense than the jokey premise might have suggested, and hopefully this serious stance will distance it from the likes of Wild Wild West and Jonah Hex .
It's shooting now...
The film is due to hit cinemas Stateside on 29th July 2011 (expect it to be released in the UK thenabouts as well). Shooting is underway, and we can expect Favreau to keep us up to date via his generous Twitter feed ( @Jon_Favreau ).
He's already shared a couple of cool-looking principal photography pics, and we can't wait to see the first shots of the cast in full costume.
And Favs is always good for sharing fun snippets about his work, the latest being: "Lots of big explosions. Nobody hurt. A good day at the office."
Can we have his job now, please?
It's going to be (really) big...
Cowboys & Aliens is expected to be released in the biggest of all formats: IMAX. We think this could potentially prove awesome .
The benefits of playing the film in the super high resolution format could be many. Not only should the alien action look immense on the ginormous screen, it should also benefit the dusty, run-down Western scenes with added detail and texture.
This should make the conflict between the warring factions all the more visually stunning, not to mention involving.
...But it might not be 3D
Favreau has admitted that he's shot 3D tests for Cowboys & Aliens but thankfully the director is carefully considering the inclusion of the extra dimension. In this post- Avatar world it feels like not a day goes by without a new blockbuster being greenlit in 3D.
That's not to say that we think this particular project might not be awesome in 3D. Done well, there can't be many more exciting places to be immersed than a Wild West saloon, in the midst of an extra-terrestrial attack.
But we have faith in Favs to do whatever's best for the movie.
After Cowboys, Favs will be exec-producing, but not directing, the forthcoming Avengers movie, so he's going to have some time on his hands before the possibility of returning to Iron Man 3 . This one should certainly keep us satiated until then...