Writers Duke It Out Over Cowboys And Aliens Credits
There's often a snake-eating-its-own-tail situation in the way movies develop from comic books that then draw inspiration from the movies, or even when films are based on novels that aren't yet finished (like the way the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World screenplay developed as the comic book series was being finished). But it's gotten massively more complicated for Cowboys and Aliens, the Jon Favreau-directed adventure film that's set to be one of the major tentpoles for next summer. Since we first started writing about the project back in 2007 the official story was that it was based on Scott Mitchell Rosenberg's 2006 graphic novel, but according to a story in THR, the script had been in development since the late 90s, and the people who worked on it back then are demanding credit.
Here's how it happened. Platinum Studios, the publisher of Rosenberg's graphic novel, went to the William Morris Agency in 1997 to show them posters for ideas they had for graphic novels, ideas that hadn't even been published yet. The agents there took a shine to the Cowboys & Aliens mockup, which apparently was very similar to the illustration that wound up on the graphic novel cover. It's unclear what happened to those drafts of the script once Rosenberg's book came out in 2006-- the details seem to be in THR's print edition, so let us know if you see them-- but at some point the project attracted much bigger writer names in Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof, and obviously those are the marquee names the studio wants on the final credits.
Arbitration for credits happens all the time, especially on major studio projects that have been through a million drafts before going into production, and you can't blame those poor nameless wretches for wanting credit on something that's likely to be a huge project. It's not the kind of thing that can derail a movie entirely-- Universal would probably firebomb a village if that's what it took for Cowboys to meet its July 29 release date-- but it'll be interesting to observe all the same, at least for those of us fascinated by the politics of the industry as much as the movies themselves.
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