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WB reloads ‘Wild Bunch’

Redo set in present-day Mexico amid the drug biz

If you hear the clatter of hoofbeats, you’re not alone.

Joining the already half-dozen Westerns already in production or pre-production, “Training Day” scribe David Ayer has been hired to adapt the Sam Peckinpah classic Western “The Wild Bunch” for Warner Bros. Pictures. Upfront deal is valued at low seven figures.

Produced by Warner-based Jerry Weintraub and Weintraub company prexy Mark Vahradian, pic joins other high-profile oaters stampeding back to Hollywood, such as Ron Howard’s “The Missing” at Revolution Studios, Walt Disney Pictures’ remake of “The Alamo” with Dennis Quaid and the Mouse House’s Kevin Costner-helmed horse opera, “Open Range.”

Original “Bunch,” nommed for an Oscar for best screenwriting in 1970, was set just months before the start of the World War I. Following a band of outlaws on their last robbery along the U.S.-Mexican border, violently operatic pic mixed machine guns and cars with horses and single action Winchesters. The anachronistic band faces a crisis of conscience before their final appointment with history.

The new “Bunch” will be set in contemporary Mexico and deal with a robbery amid the corruption and payoffs of the drug business.

“Money down there is about much more than buying Ferraris,” said Vahradian, adding “It buys authority, and absolute authority. It’s not about wealth. It’s about power, and money is the means to power.”

The WMA-repped Ayer, whose previous experiences with the corrupting influence of power include penning “Dark Blue,” “Training Day” and “The Fast and the Furious,” says the movie is as relevant today as it was in 1969.

“I think during the Clinton years, some historian said that we’d escaped the cycle of history, and that’s not true,” said Ayers.”Old issues are new issues; violence is ancient, and that was something Peckinpah was getting into. These are crazy, violent, transitional times, and ‘The Wild Bunch’ was about change about and modernism, and we’re — in the turn of this century — hitting our own world of change.”

Pic’s production is being supervised by exec VP of production Bob Brassel and by creative executive David Beaubaire.

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