The New West: Ten Upcoming Westerns

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Don't believe anyone who tries to tell you that the Western is a dead genre. Maybe it's the Django Unchained factor, or maybe it never really went away, but a quick look at the schedules reveals a surprising number of oaters either recently released or in the works. The last few months have brought us Slow West, The Salvation and The Homesman among others, and in just the last week it's been announced that Jacques Audiard and Vincent D'Onofrio are both heading for the frontier to direct new cowboy movies. Here are a magnificent / hateful / ridiculous (delete as appropriate) ten to look out for in the near-ish future.

The Hateful Eight

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Channing Tatum, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Zoë Bell

After almost dropping the whole idea when an early version of the script leaked, Tarantino eventually relented, assembled a typically fantastic cast, and shot The Hateful Eight last winter. Set a decade or so after the American Civil War, the story involves an eclectic group of lawmen, outlaws, mercenaries, bounty hunters and fugitives holed up in a stagecoach waypoint to sit out a blizzard. Two of the men are transporting a female prisoner across the country, but find themselves wondering if they'll ever make it out of the assembled company alive. This is Tarantino's second Western on the trot, following Django Unchained. He says he'll need to make one more if he wants to be considered a "proper" Western director.

Release date: January 8, 2016

The Sisters Brothers

Director: Jacques Audiard

Cast: John C. Reilly

The French director of A Prophet, The Beat That My Heart Skipped and Dheepan is making his English-language debut with this, adapted from the Booker-shortlisted 2011 novel by Patrick deWitt. The plot sees the colourfully-named gold prospector Hermann Kermit Warm being pursued across the 1850s Oregon desert to San Francisco by the notorious assassins Eli and Charlie Sisters. Except Eli is having a personal crisis and beginning to doubt the longevity of his chosen career. And Hermann might have a better offer...

Release date: TBA

Jane Got A Gun

Director: Gavin O'Connor

Cast: Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Rodrigo Santoro, Noah Emmerich, Joel Edgerton

Production problems have dogged this, with multiple casting replacements (Michael Fassbender, Jude Law and Bradley Cooper all signed up only to move on) and a walk-out by original director Lynne Ramsay (We Need To Talk About Kevin). Gavin O'Connor (Warrior) picked up the pieces and shooting was finally completed last summer. Natalie Portman plays a woman who hires a former lover to help protect her husband and homestead when his old gang double-crosses and tries to kill him.

Release date: TBA


Director: Jon Cassar

Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, Demi Moore, Brian Cox, Michael Wincott

Cassar, one of four directors on 24: Live Another Day, here reteams with Kiefer Sutherland and gets his father into the bargain. Sutherland Jr. (no stranger to the Western in his younger Young Guns days) plays an embittered gunslinger who attempts to make amends with his estranged father whilst their community is besieged by ruthless land-grabbers.

Release date: TBA

The Kid

Director: Vincent D'Onofrio

Cast: James Franco, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio

Newcomer Andrew Lanham (his Civil Rights drama Just Mercy has Michael B. Jordan attached) wrote this screenplay, which is a new take on the often-filmed legend of Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid. D'Onofrio liked it enough to make it his second film as director. The focus is a young boy whose uncle kills his father and throws his sister out on the street. The boy tries to rope Billy into avenging his father by killing said uncle, but finds his romantic notions of the gunfighting outlaw are false. He then finds a true hero in Sheriff Garrett.

Release date: TBA

Bone Tomahawk

Director: S. Craig Zahler

Cast: Kurt Russell, Sean Young, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Michael Paré, David Arquette, Sid Haig

A violent horror-Western pitched somewhere between The Searchers and The Hills Have Eyes. Wilson plays Arthur O’Dwyer, a cattle forman who, in cahoots with Russell's sherriff, quickly assembles a vigilante posse when his wife is kidnapped. Their pursuit of the abductors leads, rather unfortunately, to a cannibalistic clan living on the edge of frontier civilisation.

Release date: TBA (but playing at the London Film Festival on October 10)


Director: Martin Koolhoven

Cast: Kit Harington, Dakota Fanning, Carice Van Houten, Guy Pearce

Described by its excitable press release as "a triumphant epic of survival set in the searing wilds of the Badlands, the menacing inferno of the old American West; a tale of powerful womanhood and resistance against the unforgiving cruelty of a hell on earth". What that boils down to is Fanning in the role of Liz ("carved from the beautiful wilderness, full of heart and grit"): a woman accused of a crime she didn’t commit, and hunted by Pearce's vengeful Preacher. Harington plays a helpful outlaw.

Release date: TBA


Director: Lawrence Roeck

Cast: Scott Eastwood, Walton Goggins, Camilla Belle, Danny Glover

Roeck, who worked on the documentary The Eastwood Factor, here claims the novelty of making his own Eastwood Western, but with Scott rather than Clint. The story - yet again - finds our hero on a desperate journey across the wild frontier to rescue his kidnapped wife.

Release date: TBA

The Magnificent Seven

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D'Onofrio, Matt Bomer, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Luke Grimes, Cam Gigandet, Haley Bennett, Byung-hun Lee, Wagner Moura

An all-star remake of John Sturges' 1960 original; itself an adaptation of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. The familiar tale sees bandits target a small town with a large gold claim. When the villains kill several people in their attempt to take the place over, a young woman (Bennett), who lost her husband in the fight, hires bounty hunter Washington to dispatch the bad guys, supplying him with the necessary funds to hire six further gunmen to help him in his mission. Which is where Pratt, Hawke, Grimes, Moura, Lee and D’Onofrio come into play. Sarsgaard is chief villain Bartholomew Bogue. The late, great James Horner provided the score.

Release date: September 23, 2016

The Ridiculous Six

Director: Frank Coraci

Cast: Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi, Terry Crews, Luke Wilson, Taylor Lautner, Nick Nolte, Danny Trejo, Jorge Garcia, Will Forte, David Spade, Rob Schneider, John Turturro, Jon Lovitz, Vanilla Ice, Blake Shelton

Starting out as a project for Paramount, this comedy Western (did A Million Ways To Die In The West teach us nothing?) now comes courtesy of Sandler's four-picture deal with Netflix. Sandler plays an orphan raised by a Native American tribe, with Forte and Trejo the leaders of rival gangs. Lautner, Crews, Schneider and Wilson are Sandler's half-brothers; Nolte is his long-lost father; Shelton is Wyatt Earp; and Ice is (ahem) Mark Twain. The details of the plot connecting that lot have yet to be revealed.

Release date: December 11, 2015 (on Netflix)