Sources have confirmed to The Tracking Board that Jonathan Jakubowicz is set to write and direct the remake of Sam Peckinpah’s western classic THE WILD BUNCH for Warner Bros. Jesse Ehrman and Julia Spiro will oversee for the studio.
Our sources also tell us that the remake will update the story to a contemporary setting, revolving around the CIA, dangerous drug cartels, and a thrilling heist against the backdrop of the Southern California-Mexico border. Jakubowicz will be working from previous drafts submitted by David Ayer and Brian Helgeland.
The 1969 original centered around an outlaw gang on the Texas-Mexico border, trying to exist in the changing “modern” world of 1913. As was typical of Peckinpah’s work, the film stirred up controversy for its depiction of graphic violence and its less-than-upstanding protagonists. Undoubtedly, the themes of adapting to unprecedented change will carry over in the remake, but the studio is hoping to push this as an action-adventure feature–not surprising given the stigma in Hollywood surrounding features labeled exclusively as ‘Westerns’.
The recent success of Sicario–which shares the setting and story elements of the proposed Wild remake–could also influence the direction the new film takes, potentially opening the door for a female to join the ranks of the Bunch. Another female-centric Western, Jane Got a Gun starring Natalie Portman, is set for distribution from the Weinstein Company this winter.
Warner isn’t the only studio launching a ‘contemporary’ Western remake. Last month, The Tracking Board exclusively reported that Paramount is re-imagining the John Wayne classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, setting that story in 1980s Pennsylvania. This could signal a trend from the major studios, who seem determined to transform their own classic Western properties into stories that will connect with modern audiences.
The Venezuelan-born Jakubowicz rose to prominence with Secuestro Express, which explored one couple’s frightening journey through the underbelly of Caracas in the hands of three thugs who have made them their last payday–not dissimilar to the outlaws of The Wild Bunch who are determined to make one last score. That thriller went on to become Venezuela’s highest grossing film of all time, beating out Titanic and The Passion of the Christ.
The success of Secuestro led Jakubowicz, in 2010, to co-direct the HBO International series Profugos, which became the biggest action-driven original series ever made in Latin America. Recently, Jakubowicz wrote, directed and produced the $20 million Hands of Stone, the biopic about legendary boxer Roberto Duran and his trainer Ray Arcel–starring Edgar Ramirez and Robert De Niro.
Josh Lyons | Staff Writer