Inside Move: Studios herd new wave of Westerns

Revolution's 'Missing,' Disney's 'Alamo' among oaters in prod'n

Eleven years after “Unforgiven” supposedly revitalized the Western genre, Hollywood is suddenly very much at home on the range.

In fact, despite the tepid B.O. reception for such recent Western hopefuls as Dimension’s 2001 youth oater “Texas Rangers,” the marketplace is suddenly hotter than a branding iron.

Writers have been turning down multimillion-dollar offers in hopes of landing even better bids for their horse operas.

Thesp Madeleine Stowe rejected a $3 million offer, then a $5 million offer (the biggest in history) from 20th Century Fox for her spec script “The Unbound Captives” last week. Part of the pricetag was to ease Stowe’s being rejected as a star on the pic.

Stowe spurned Fox’s rich offer with confidence that other studios would surely bite. And the apparent stampede back to the oater genre suggests she may be right.

Ron Howard is shooting “The Missing” for Revolution Studios; Walt Disney Pictures is remaking “The Alamo” with Dennis Quaid and has Viggo Mortensen in “Hidalgo” and the Kevin Costner-directed “Open Range” in the can.

And Warner Bros. last week inked a deal with “Training Day” scribe David Ayer to adapt Sam Peckinpah’s 1969 classic “The Wild Bunch” for producers Jerry Weintraub and Mark Vahradian.

With studios suddenly breeding Westerns like jackrabbits, even Ayer casts a jaundiced eye on the purported resurgence.

“Genres come in cycles,” he says. “It’ll be romantic comedies next year. I think when you hear the other guy is making a Western you say ‘Oh my God! Where’s our Western?!’ “

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