Helmer plays ‘Bunch’ hunch

Ayer new 'Wild' man at Warners

Warner Bros. has set David Ayer to helm “The Wild Bunch,” a contemporized remake of the Sam Peckinpah action classic. He will be paid low seven figures for directing and writing the script.

Jerry Weintraub is producing; shoot is expected to start by next summer.

Ayer wrote the script for “Bunch” before making his feature directorial debut with “Harsh Times,” a drama he wrote that stars Christian Bale and Eva Longoria.

Ayer considered his work on “Harsh Times” to be more intense and nerve-wracking than his stint as a sonar technician on a nuclear sub while in the Navy. Ayer mortgaged his home to self-finance the film and then watched a bidding war erupt after it bowed at the Toronto Film Festival, where Bauer Martinez bought distribution rights in a deal worth more than $6 million. “Ice cold terror is perhaps the best description of what it is like to violate the cardinal rule of never using your own money to make a film,” said Ayer, whose effort paid off with a dream job even before “Harsh Times” reached a theater.

Weintraub and WB brass flipped for the film and gave Ayer the nod for “Wild Bunch.”

“This is a film I wanted to make for a long time, and what’s nice is this is David’s vision,” Weintraub said.

“I’ve introduced a present day setting, but there are very masculine themes and characters from the original that are still very relevant,” Ayer said.

Mark Vahradian, president of Jerry Weintraub Prods., will exec produce with Susan Ekins. WB exec Jessica Goodman oversees for the studio.

The original Peckinpah pic followed a band of outlaws staging a robbery along the border of Mexico right before the start of WWI. The remake keeps the locale, but the contemporized version is a complicated tapestry involving drug cartels, the CIA and a heist. There’ll be plenty of gunplay and action, something Ayer writes strongly, with credits including “Training Day,” “S.W.A.T.,” “Dark Blue,” “The Fast and the Furious” and “U-571.”

“It’s not a Western anymore, but it still has the ‘Wild Bunch’ characters and the elements that made the original film so memorable,” Weintraub said.

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