Click on picture to view entire 2010 C&A ‘teaser’ poster:

Two worlds are set to collide next summer in the movie “Cowboys and Aliens,” under the command of Jon Favreau. The “Iron Man” director is combining the mystery of a 1873 time period Western complete with the thrills of an alien invasion movie, with sci-fi and hero legend Harrison Ford as the lead.

First view of the night set near Santa Fe, NM

The people of Dreamworks/Imagine motion pictures saw the metal and glass plates I did of actor Josh Brolin for Paramount’s remake of TRUE GRIT, and as a result I was hired to produce sixteen copies of 6th plate sized aluminotypes of actress Abigail Spencer for Favreau’s movie. (Thanks and a tip of my hat to pal Dave Baumann, who suggested me for both jobs). Sounded to me like “easy money” for a static copy job for a a couple hours at night on July 31st. I was plagued with an assortment of chemical problems due to the hot/humid weather here, and the 30 second per plate exposure times made it into a long 6 hour session! I ran over 30 plates to produce the necessary sixteen I was hired to make. As usual, my time estimates were WAY too low for the work it took me to get these. Oh well, at least in the end the final products are nice crisp representations they all should be happy with.

Favreau, whose previous films were Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and they’ve been shooting the to-be-released in 2011 feature for a month. He called the movie a “by the book Western,” in the vein of John Ford, which will definitely be in 2D. (Why no 3D? He just doesn’t think you can shoot a Western in digital.) And he said his scifi influences include Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, and Predator. “We wanted it to look like practical effects, with minimal CGI,” he added. And it really worked.

Along with the rest of the interested world I am wondering how this movie will play out. Will this be hard science fiction, or more fantastical like the Indiana Jones series? What will the aliens look like? Is Harrison Ford actually playing a bad guy? And Daniel Craig as a cowboy? I predict that this film, based on a comic book by Scott Rosenberg, is going to be mind-blowingly awesome when it comes out this time next year.

Several scenes were previewed recently at the July Comic-Con. They include:

The first clip opens with Zeke Johnson (Daniel Craig) riding his horse into a tiny old west town of Absolution, accompanied by a scruffy dog. He looks wary, and his face is covered in grime. Seeing nobody around, he slips into a house and begins to clean up. Immediately, we notice that he has a bulky, steampunk-looking wristband on one arm; then he pulls aside his shirt to reveal a deep, bloody bullet wound. As he’s cleaning that, the house’s owner pokes a shotgun into his ear and he’s forced to put his hands up.

The man says to Zeke, “Only two kinds of people get shot: Criminals and victims. Which one are you?”
“I don’t know,” Zeke replies.

Next time we see him, Zeke is in jail and a scruffy teenager in the next cell is spitting on him, saying, “I want to see you suffer for a long time.” Finally, after a few more seconds of torment, Zeke gets up, grabs the kid by the scruff of the neck, and smashes him unconscious against the bars dividing their two cells. So Zeke is a tough character. And when the lawmen arrive, they tell him he’s been charged with murder and he’s being taken for a trial – chained to the snotty kid he knocked out.

The two of them have been bundled into an armored carriage when a large group of armed men ride out of the night and into town carrying torches. Their leader is Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), and he’s a venomous bad guy who refuses to hear the pleas of his son, who turns out to be the snot-nosed kid who spat on Zeke.

Pointing at Zeke, Woodrow says, “That’s the son of a bitch who stole my gold.” He wants to snatch Zeke out of the carriage right that minute to find out where his gold is, but he’s interrupted when the horizon begins to glimmer with lights. It’s a very Close Encounters-esque looking UFO, which zooms toward the town, fragments into several ships which disappear, then reappear directly overhead, shooting blue lasers and blowing up the town house by house. Fires erupt from windows, people run screaming (including Sam Rockwell), and the jail carriage is knocked over. Zeke and the kid scramble out and we see Zeke’s wristband has grown to cover his lower arm. It’s also glowing blue. He aims it at the ships, and shoots out a beam of light that brings one down in a haze of dust and fire.

A hush falls over the town as everybody stares at the fallen ship, looking a little like a TIE fighter surrounded by mounds of displaced dirt. Woodrow is standing next to Zeke, who is still in a fighting stance, his arm outstretched. His wristband suddenly closes back up, becoming the small band we saw earlier. The two men exchange a significant glance, their faces lit by UFO fire.