Michelle MacLaren will direct Chris Pratt's Cowboy Ninja Viking comic book movie adaptation for Universal. Comic book adaptations are the big sellers now in Hollywood, and that means every studio is looking to strike gold. That doesn't just end with Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe and Warner Bros. Pictures' DC movie universe, either. There are a number of comic publishers with plenty of titles to mine from, such as Dark Horse, Valiant, and Image. All three have major film adaptations on the horizon, with Universal taking on Image's Cowboy Ninja Viking.
The live-action feature film has been in the works for a number of years. Universal first acquired the rights to make the film in 2012, with Marc Forster attached to direct. He eventually departed and the studio turned to John Wick directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. That never transpired, but they did snag Chris Pratt during his post-Guardians of the Galaxy rise to fame. Now, the studio has recruited a new director well-versed in television.
Variety reports Universal has brought Michelle MacLaren onto Cowboy Ninja Viking to direct. MacLaren has yet to direct a feature-length film, but was at one time tapped to direct Wonder Woman for WB. She also has The Nightingale on her schedule, but that could be pushed to get Cowboy Ninja Viking off the ground sooner. Her lack of feature work shouldn't be a concern however, as she has directed multiple episodes of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, along with episodes of Westworld, Better Call Saul, The Leftovers, The Walking Dead, and more.
The hiring of MacLaren is an inspired choice and one that is long overdue for her. Not only has she directed some of the biggest television shows in the last decade, but she also executive produced Breaking Bad and The X-Files for multiple seasons. It also appears that MacLaren wasn't the only woman considered for this job, as Tracking-Board reports Pratt (a producer on the project) pushed hard for a female director, and that Kung Fu Panda's Jennifer Yuh Nelson was also a finalist.
Cowboy Ninja Viking is set to hit theaters next summer, and recent reports pointed to production starting this June. If true, MacLaren won't have to wait too long to get behind the camera. It would also mean that the rest of pre-production could move quickly, so we may soon find out who else will be involved here. Craig Mazin (The Hangover Part II) wrote the most recent draft of the script that will see Pratt play Duncan, an assassin with Dissociative Identity Disorder who uses the skills of his three personas - a cowboy, a ninja, and a viking - to get the job done. The concept is strong and now that MacLaren is involved, her pairing with Pratt should help deliver a fun action film.
- Cowboy Ninja Viking (2019) release date: Jun 28, 2019