Joel and Ethan Coen are the latest auteurs moving into television, with a new event anthology set in the Old West.
Annapurna Television is partnering with the Coen brothers on a limited series Western called “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” Sources tell Variety that Annapurna intends to pursue an innovative approach that could combine television and theatrical.
Joel and Ethan Coen wrote the script from an original idea and will direct the project.
The Coens will produce “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” through their Mike Zoss Productions label. Megan Ellison and Annapurna Television’s president of television, Sue Naegle, will serve as executive producers.
“We are very excited to be working with Megan and Sue on this project,” the Coen brothers said in a statement to Variety.
It’s still unclear how theatrical distribution could play a part in the project, but the intent is to shoot “Buster Scruggs” as a miniseries. According to sources, the scope of the project seemed too challenging to be covered in one feature film.
The idea is similar to Imagine Entertainment’s adaptation of the “The Dark Tower” series. Imagine partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard had planned to do something over both theatrical and television, but ended up sticking with one feature film, which Sony will release later this year.
Plot details of “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” are unknown, though it will intertwine six different story lines. The brothers are no strangers to the genre, with “True Grit” and “No Country for Old Men” on their resume.
The brothers join a list of elite directors who have crossed over to television to further develop stories that could not make it to the big screen. Among many others, David O. Russell is currently working on a series for Amazon starring Julianne Moore and Robert De Niro, and J.J. Abrams is writing and directing a limited series with Meryl Streep that is currently being shopped.
The Coens most recently wrote and directed “Hail, Caesar!” and also penned the script for George Clooney’s next directorial effort, “Suburbicon.” They are repped by UTA.
After making a mark in the film industry, Annapurna is now making strides in television and is in pre-production on a limited series adaptation of the novel “Today Will Be Different” by Maria Semple, with Julia Roberts attached to star.