It seems like almost every classic American film has been remade or reincarnated in some form. However, contrary to that impression, there are still a few films that haven't been touched yet and one of those in Sam Peckinpah's 1969 western, The Wild Bunch.
That doesn't mean Hollywood hasn't thought about it. In fact, a Wild Bunch reboot has been in development for a couple of years now with Tony Scott attached to direct a script written by Oscar winner Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential), but the project stalled after Scott died last year. Now, another major Hollywood player is considering reviving the reboot as a producer and star.
According to The Wrap, that power player is none other than Will Smith. Smith is currently in talks to produce the film under his Overbrook Entertainment banner along with Jerry Weintraub, who last collaborated with Smith on the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid. If a deal does get made, Smith would also star as one of the "Bunch."
The project is being referred to as a reboot rather than a remake because, though it shares the same title as Peckinpah's classic, it's getting a modern makeover that will deviate significantly from the source material. Set in 1913 on the Texas-Mexico border, the 1969 film centered on a group of aging outlaws planning one last major score before retirement, whereas the new version would follow a disgraced D.E.A. agent who assembles a team to go after a drug cartel in present day Mexico.
The project is still looking for a new writer and an ensemble cast to surround Smith, so it's unclear if the tone and approach of the reboot would mirror the original. Noted for being extremely violent, Peckinpah's film was controversial for its time. Although its action montages were considered stylistically innovative, the long gunfight sequences strived for gritty realism at the same time.
Django Unchained, which Smith almost starred in, definitely asserted some style in its approach to the modern western. Hopefully, this reboot, without stealing Tarantino's signatures, would take more inspiration from a film like Django and less from Smith's infamously panned Wild Wild West.
Smith said he turned down the role of Django because he considered it to be a supporting character, not because of the violent content in Tarantino's film. So, maybe that means the family-friendly Smith won't be timid about going all out with The Wild Bunch? I suppose we'll have to wait and see how the script comes together and if Smith officially climbs on board.
There's no production start date in sight yet for The Wild Bunch, but you can see Smith later this month in the highly-anticipated sci-fi film from M. Night Shyamalan, After Earth.
Source: The Wrap