Like J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens had a Super Bowl spot on Sunday (click here to watch it). And like Super 8, Cowboys & Aliens is a tough sell. When the commercial started playing, I knew it was Cowboys & Aliens so I said to no one in particular, “Cowboys and Aliens”. When the title came up, people turned to me and said they thought I was joking. But people can get past goofy titles if they think the movie looks cool and there’s solid word-of-mouth. Still, the clash of genres is a lot for people to take in and Favreau wants to help explain it.
Hit the jump for what Favreau had to say about his upcoming sci-fi western. Cowboys & Aliens stars Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Paul Dano, Clancy Brown, and Sam Rockwell. The film opens July 29th.
Speaking to EW, Favreau explained that while the teaser trailer helped announce the movie, folks were uncertain as to the tone.
“The first one … people didn’t know if it was meant to be funny, or meant to be dark, but it made an impression. People are getting used to what it is now, they’re aware of the title, and we want to show them it’s an adventure. For me the first [trailer] was like, ‘Holy s—, these things are coming! What are they?’, Then you reveal the blaster on his wrist. In this one, instead of everyone running for cover, you see one guy is gonna jump on the back of these things… and we’ll see what that leads to.”
Getting people to understand that this isn’t a comedy but an action-adventure was the motivation behind casting Craig and Ford:
“That’s the archetype we’re going for. That’s what Daniel Craig was able to completely capture. People know him from Bond and he brings a certain virtuosity to his action performance. Then you have Harrison Ford, and just like if you would cast John Wayne in a Western, you’re bringing this whole sense of history. We’re bringing these two forces together and putting them at odds.”
Favreau also says that in terms of visual references, they’ll be drawing on movies from Raiders of the Lost Ark (another comparison to Super 8—Steven Spielberg is also an executive producer on Cowboys & Aliens) to Stagecoach.
So we’ve seen the cowboys, but when are we going to see the aliens?
“We haven’t shown any of the aliens. We want to hold that back. And all the images we’re showing are from the beginning, up to the first half of the film. We’re not showing a lot of where it goes. The first teaser was showing the opening of the film and a little of the setup. This one is showing more of the sense of adventure as things unfold. We’re just trying to get people’s feet wet.”
I would love it if the marketing for a movie didn’t take me all the way through the third act. If Universal can sell the movie and keep a lid on the second-half, then kudos to them. The question is whether or not people can accept a sci-fi-western-action-adventure with a silly title or if they’ll just have nightmare flashbacks to Wild Wild West.