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A Million Ways to Die In the West

Universal unveiled a first-look photo for one of the most mysterious, intriguing movies on the schedule for Summer 2014: Seth MacFarlane’s comedy-western A Million Ways to Die in the West. Yep. It looks like a Western.

Why are we so interested in this movie? Well, for so many reasons, Million Ways separates itself from the usual onslaught of summer-movie blockbusterdom. It’s not a superhero movie, for starters. It isn’t a sequel to an existing franchise, and it isn’t a prequel to a series we already loved. It isn’t trying to adapt a YA novel, or launch the next great animated franchise. As far as we can tell, it’s the latest original idea from the brain that brings us Family Guy on a weekly basis. Did you hear that, kids? An "original" idea! Huzzah!

Here’s the other kicker: The last time MacFarlane dabbled in theatrical releases, he unleashed the uproarious Ted, which earned a staggering $549 million in global grosses and actually scored an Oscar nomination. An Oscar nomination! Of course, that also led to this:

Industry trackers will be playing very close attention to A Million Ways to Die to see if MacFarlane can duplicate the unpredicted success of Ted, and continue to lure his dedicated fans into theaters, translating into tickets sold. He’ll give this movie a go as the starring role (instead of hiding behind a soft teddy bear), playing "a cowardly farmer [who] seeks the help of a gunslinger’s wife to help him win back the woman who left him." Joining MacFarlane on this quest will be Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried and Neil Patrick Harris, all pictured above. Not pictured, but also part of the Western mix, will be Liam Neeson, Sarah Silverman and Giovanni Ribisi, of all people.

Universal sure gave West a choice release slot. The movie will reach theaters on May 30, pitting it, at the moment, against Walt Disney’s fairy tale switcheroo Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie. There are two other major comedies in May that should have found their audiences by the time West comes out: Seth Rogen’s Neighbors and Chef with Robert Downey Jr. And then the comedy has until June 13, when 22 Jump Street lands, to lure audience members. It sounds like the ideal spot for MacFarlane to grab huge laughs, and huge receipts, as he tries to craft the funniest Western since this:

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