MGM has no qualms about dipping back into their library to mine for reboot gold, with RoboCop and Poltergeist remakes on their way in 2014 and Death Wish and WarGames projects in development soon to follow. Their reimagining of the western classic Magnificent Seven has been in the works for quite some time now, gaining more ground when Tom Cruise attached his name to the film in 2012.
But now, Cruise has exited the project, citing his “busy plans” as his excuse for backing out. Heading into 2014, the film needs a new star and a new focus to match the writer added to revamp the much-beloved western — Saving Mr. Banks director John Lee Hancock.
Hancock is a familiar face to the western genre, having helmed and co-written Disney’s The Alamo once upon a time. Though the film was not much of a box office success story, Disney apparently had enough faith in his writing and directing abilities to give him the reigns to Banks and parts of the upcoming Maleficient; Hancock was responsible for writing several scenes and oversaw reshoots on the film.
But even if he’s Disney’s darling of the moment, it still needs to be seen if Hancock can take what he learned from The Alamo and deposit it into his version of Magnificent Seven. The first draft of the remake was penned by True Detective scribe Nic Pizzolatto, which was, of course, based on the 1960 original John Sturges film. That film was, in turn, based off of Akira Kurosawa‘s 1954 classic Seven Samurai.
Magnificent Seven is the story of a group of American gunmen hired to protect a Mexican village that has fallen under attack by a band of brutal bandits led by Calavera. Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz starred as the titular seven who fought back against the savage played by Eli Wallach. It’s unclear which role Tom Cruise would have taken on (it’s understandable that he backed out, the man has approximately 500 projects in the works right now), but now the race is on to find a replacement — particularly an actor with starpower to give the film enough name recognition for audiences to pay attention to the remake.
There are then six more (magnificent) spots open to fill before this film can really get off the ground, in addition to the villain Calavera. The chemistry and partnership between the seven men is the driving force in the movie, so a believable band of cowboys who can duke it out with some wiley banditos is a must for success. Something to consider with this film: maybe big-time, old-style westerns are back? Please, someone let Armie Hammer down ever so gently.