The author of a 1995 comic story with the same title as the movie Cowboys & Aliens has sued producers of the movie and a comics publisher, alleging they stole his idea. Austin-based author Steven John Busti filed the suit in federal court in Texas. The suit named DreamWorks Studios, Universal Pictures and comic book entrepreneur Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and his company Platinum Studios as defendants. Busti claims he came up with the idea for cowboys fighting aliens in 1994 and published a story the following year titled “Cowboys & Aliens” in a comic called Bizarre Fantasy. The suit also claims that in 1994 the publication Comic Shop News ran a feature on his Cowboys & Aliens idea in the same issue that ran a story on Rosenberg. Rosenberg’s LA-based Platinum Studios in 2006 launched the graphic novel series Cowboys & Aliens — which Busti asserted in the suit has striking similarities to his work. Universal and DreamWorks bought movie rights from Platinum. Busti’s claim is another black mark against the movie on which the studios placed high hopes and a big budget. A major disappointment financially, Cowboys & Aliens grossed about $175 million worldwide, barely more than it cost.
Studios usually view Comic-Con as a venue to start momentum on projects that won’t be in theaters for up to a year. This Saturday, DreamWorks and Universal will try to turn the rabid youth demographic at Comic-Con into true believers for Cowboys & Aliens, a week before the picture opens. It’s crucially important to a movie that has a budget pegged by insiders at $163 million (whispers around town are it could be higher) big stars in Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, and the god-fathering presence of Steven Spielberg and Imagine’s Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. It is also directed by Jon Favreau, whose Iron Man films and past Comic-Con patronage has made him a hero to that crowd.
Despite this pedigree, Cowboys & Aliens has endured a tortured development history involving more than a dozen writers. (Just five writers got screenplay credit after the Writers Guild not surprisingly held an arbitration trying to figure who did what over 14 years.) Now the movie faces even bigger challenges. It’s a mash-up of two genres that usually don’t cross paths, Westerns and science fiction. Word around town is the film has a cash break participation pool in the 35% range. In the wake of the behemoth opening of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, tracking has been soft, there is no 3D conversion to justify higher ticket prices, factors that could put the …
EXCLUSIVE: Platinum Studios and Practical Pictures have teamed to develop Platinum’s graphic novel Alien At Large! as a feature. Platinum CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg is a producer on Cowboys & Aliens, and Practical Pictures partners Craig Perry and Sheila Hanahan Taylor are currently producing the final American Pie installment, American Reunion, for Universal. They also produced Final Destination 5, which will be released in August by Warner Bros and New Line.
Alien at Large! is one of 5000 properties that Platinum Studios controls. Cowboys & Aliens will be released July 29 by DreamWorks and Universal. Jon Favreau directed and Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford star.
EXCLUSIVE: Platinum Studios, a producer of the upcoming Cowboys & Aliens, has joined forces with Andrew Lazar and Top Cow Productions to turn the Top Cow comic Vice into a live action feature film. Vice tells the story of hard-core teen felons who join the FBI’s Critical Response Unit as a way to clear their records. Their bad attitudes and formidable powers make them as dangerous as the bad guys they pursue. Top Cow president Matt Hawkins created the comic in 2005. Lazar will produce with Platinum Studios chairman/CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, and Randy Greenberg will be exec producer with Hawkins and Marc Silvestri.