Word that MGM has plans to remake The Magnificent Seven started to make the rounds online around two years ago, back when the project was being envisioned with Tom Cruise receiving top billing, as far as the cast goes. The project has been showing new signs of life over the past six months (following Cruise's departure); first, with John Lee Hancock (The Alamo, The Blind Side) being recruited to revise the screenplay, from an earlier draft by Nic Pizzolatto (creator of True Detective) - and, just last week, with news that Antoine Fuqua (Olympus Has Fallen) has been offered the chance to direct the project.
Fuqua reunited with Denzel Washington - who won an Oscar for playing a dirty cop in the Fuqua-helmed Training Day, released in 2001 - this past year, for the upcoming film reboot of the 1980s crime series, The Equalizer. Now, it's looking as though the pair could end up working together a third time in the near future, as Deadline is reporting that MGM has begun "early discussions" with Washington and Fuqua - to have them anchor the cast and direct, respectively, on the remake of the Magnificent Seven classic western.
The original Magnificent Seven - a loose American-ization of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai - from Oscar-nominated director John Sturges (The Great Escape), was released in 1960. It revolves around a troop of gunslingers who're hired to defend a Mexican village from bandits, and features such old-Hollwood stars as Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn among others, portraying the eponymous squad of hired gunmen.
If Washington does commit to starring in a Fuqua-helmed Magnificent Seven remake, then he'll without a doubt be just one of multiple name actors who ends up playing the seven righteous outlaws in the film. Rumor has it that, in the past, MGM was looking to fill out the remainder of the cast with modern-day stars who've played in the western movie sandbox before, including Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves, Open Range), Morgan Freman (Unforgiven), and Matt Damon (True Grit) - adding something of a meta aspect to the film, in the process. However, as of right now, it's not clear if any of the aforementioned names are still being pursued.
Washington's typical badass persona makes him a intriguing choice to headline a western; all things considered, it's a bit surprising that he hasn't already ventured into the rough and tumble Old West setting before now (though, Book of Eli certainly has western elements to it). The award-winner's future schedule is pretty open right now, so such a reunion with a director whom he, by all accounts, has established a good professional relationship with, sounds like something Washington might be interested in doing.
Similarly, with such solid gritty thrillers as Training Day and Olympus Has Fallen, among others under his belt, Fuqua reads as being the sort of filmmaker who could deliver a western that resonates with contemporary audiences - without also feeling like a winking throwback (a la Django Unchained) or the cinematic version of a western-themed ride (a la Cowboys & Aliens). So, we'll be keeping our fingers crossed that this proposed iteration of the Magnificent Seven remake actually comes to fruition.
We'll keep you updated on the status of The Magnificent Seven.