Hot on the heels of the release of his behind-the-scenes Mary Poppins film, Saving Mr. Banks, which is getting serious Oscar buzz for actress Emma Thompson, filmmaker John Lee Hancock has just been signed up to rewrite the long-in-development remake of the Western The Magnificent Seven for MGM. Tom Cruise was long thought to be a part of the cast for this remake, but according to The Wrap, he is no longer attached.
The original draft of the script was written by Nic Pizzolatto, whose show "True Detective" starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson premieres on HBO next month, basing it on the 1960 film directed by John Sturges that itself was inspired by Akira Kurosawa's classic 1954 film Seven Samurai. The original movie starred Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Robert Vaughn as a group of disparate gunmen who come together to protect a Mexican village from bandits led by Eli Wallach. It led to a number of sequels as well as a CBS series that ran from 1998 to 2000.
Tom Cruise had been interested in remaking the project back in 2012 when MGM started to go through its library titles looking for films to remake, but he became busy with other projects.
Before writing and directing Saving Mr. Banks and the football drama The Blind Side, for which Sandra Bullock won an Oscar, Hancock already had some experience with the Western genre, having co-written and directed The Alamo for Walt Disney Pictures, which didn't fare well at the box office despite a fairly large budget. That didn't detract Disney from continuing to hire Hancock, as he did rewrites on their upcoming summer tentpole Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie, plus they entrusted him to bring part of Walt Disney's legacy to the screen with "Mr. Banks."
Meanwhile, MGM continues to look at films from their library that they can remake with this year's Carrie remake and last year's Red Dawn remake--both box office disappointments--being followed by next year's RoboCop and Poltergeist with remakes of Death Wish and WarGames also in the planning stages.