Classic western remake The Magnificent Seven is a project that has started to come together fairly quickly, since Antoine Fuqua confirmed that he will be reuniting with his Training Day and The Equalizer leading man, Denzel Washington, on the film. It turns out Magnificent Seven will be even more of a Training Day reunion than expected, as Ethan Hawke has now all but officially this new movie's cast.
The new Magnificent Seven, based on a script draft written by Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective) then revised by John Lee Hancock (The Alamo), was drawn from the 1960 film about seven gunslingers who are recruited to protect a Mexican village from outlaws (the original movie being an American remake of Seven Samurai). Chris Pratt is also playing one of the seven cowboys in question, while Haley Bennett (who costarred in The Equalizer) will portray the widow who is responsible for the hiring of said gunslingers to defend her home town.
Training Day was the film that not only earned Washington an acting Oscar, but also earned Hawke an Oscar nomination for his role as an inexperience cop, taken under the wing of a street-smart, but corrupted, veteran police officer (Washington). Fuqua directed the pair in that 2001 movie while drawing from a script by David Ayer: the writer/director of last year's acclaimed WWII tank thriller Fury, who's now working on the anticipated DC comic book feature Suicide Squad. That it proved to be a memorable (and brutal) police crime drama/thriller isn't so much of a surprise, given the mix of talent involved.
Similarly, Magnificent Seven - which Variety confirms Hawke is in "final negotiations" for - sounds equally interesting, in terms of the people involved on both sides of the camera. Fuqua is someone who could infuse the western genre proceedings with a decidedly more "modern" edge, as evidenced by his work on such "urban westerns" as Olympus Has Fallen and The Equalizer over the past couple years. And with a script co-written by Pizzolatto, this remake may well have more substance to its than some might've anticipated.
[UPDATE: A number of sites (including Empire) are reporting that the Magnificent Seven remake tells the story of a small town build around a gold mine - a change from the setting of the original film - that is threatened by a ruthless baron and his henchmen. Washing, reportedly, is playing the bounty hunter recruited by Bennett's character to take out the villains; the latter also provides Washington with the funds necessary to hire six additional gunmen, to help him on his task.]
The western, once upon a time, occupied the position that superhero/comic book films currently do in Hollywood, but now it's an old-fashioned (and somewhat outdated) genre - but also one that will be getting some fresh breaths of air over the next year or two. Besides Magnificent Seven, there's the delayed, Natalie Portman-starring Jane Got a Gun, now scheduled to arrive in September; and before 2015 draws to a close, Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight (a title clearly referencing Magnificent Seven) will hit the scene.
Magnificent Seven still has four more key positions to fill, ahead of production beginning this spring. Famous western stars like Morgan Freeman (Unforgiven) and Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves, Open Range) were once rumored as supporting cast members, back when the remake had Tom Cruise lined up as headliner. Obviously, a lot's changed since then, but at this stage it's somewhat difficult to guess what this movie's final lineup is going to be. We'll keep you up to speed on the situation, as new developments unfold.
The Magnificent Seven begins filming this year, but doesn't have an official release date yet (2016 is likely though).
Update Source: Empire