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Will ‘Django’ Bring ‘The Color Of Lightning’ Back From The Dead?

Will 'Django' Bring 'The Color Of Lightning' Back From The Dead?

You know how it usually works in the film business. Once a film becomes big success then everybody else jumps on the bandwagon trying to cash in on it.

So now with Django Unchained being a huge box office success, not only here in the U.S., but worldwide, where it’s a big hit even in places you wouldn’t expect, like Russia, you would think that studios and production companies everywhere are searching for their own Django – a western or period movie dealing with racial conflict.

Then again maybe not…

For example take The Color of Lightning which Fox put in development 3 years ago, with Ridley Scott attached to direct.

The film was based on the 2009 novel by Paulette Jiles, and was to be adapted by Brokeback Moutain screenwriters Larry McMurty and Diana Ossana.

The novel, as the synopsis says, is a story of “revenge, dedication and betrayal set mainly in Kentucky and Texas near the end of the Civil War. Britt Johnson is a free black man traveling with a larger band of white settlers in search of a better life for his wife, Mary, and their children, despite the many perils of the journey itself. After a war party of 700 Comanche and Kiowa scalp, rape and murder many of the whites, Mary and her children get separated from Britt and become the property of a Native named Gonkon. Britt must wait through the winter before he can set out to rescue and reclaim his wife and children, only to discover that not only does he not have enough money to bargain with the Indians but also that his own family’s fate has as much to do with land disputes and treaties as it does with his determination to get revenge.”

Sounds sort of Django-esque doesn’t it?

Of course the film, like practically two-thirds of all film projects that are announced, was shelved for whatever reasons, and Scott went on to other things, such as (unfortunately) Prometheus.

But do you think that Fox just might be reconsidering Lightning in the wake of the success of Django? 

So far, there’s been no word in the trades, but it could be possible. Then again, maybe not. It also could be very likely that Django is being seen as a fluke, an anomaly.

I recall after the Coen brothers’ 2010 western True Grit made over $250 million worldwide, I thought for sure that it would bring about a return of the western. No such luck.

With the exception of Django, there have been none – though Lynne Ramsay, the director of We Need to Talk About Kevin, is about to go into production with a western, Jane (not Jane’s) Got A Gun with Natalie Portman and Michael Fassbender.

Django could be seen as just another fluke; and, besides, it was a Quentin Tarantino film, which means studios could say: “Hey, it was a movie by Quentin. He could make a film about the Yellow Pages and people would still come to see it.”

And there weren’t any World War II movies that came in the wake of Inglorious Basterds either.

So what do you say? Is Django going to bring more of the same, or that’s it?

This Article is related to: News



The Coen Brothers' successes with No Country for Old Men (2007) and True Grit (2010) provided a bandwagon for Tarantino's Django Unchained (2012) to jump on since No Country for Old Men and True Grit were released to great acclaim years prior. True Grit was released December 2010. The next April, Tarantino turned in a Western script. However, Coen movies usually have a Western feel to them going back to Blood Simple and Raising Arizona.


Nah.. it reads as if the Native "Indians" are the villains here, no interest in that personally, and it would no doubt be perceived as racist/offensive to Natives. If they changed it so that the main brotha teams up with the Natives to kill Whitey then it'd be more Django-esque. I'd watch that..


"Sounds sort of Django-esque doesn't it?"

Yes….and no. I read the book a few years ago and it is pretty far from Django in terms of how the story plays out. By the way the black guy, Britt Johnson, was a real person and this novel is based upon his story. Also it is widely accepted by historians who focus on the American west that Johnson's story was the inspiration for the classic John Ford/John Wayne movie "The Searchers". Of course there weren't any black folks in that film.


After re-reading this post, a few things caught my eye. You mentioned the film "We Need To Talk About Kevin" and it's director, Lynne Ramsay. You said she's going into production on a western starring Natalie Portman and Michael Fassbender. That's interesting on two fronts. That film didn't make much money and it was picked up by the same distributor who has the rights to Andrew Dosunmu's film, Mother Of George. Huuuummmm. In describing "Kevin", one reviewer said this–>"As filmaking, this is high art. As storytelling, it's a bit muddled and quite a downer". Well, well, well… what's really going on? Are the producers of "Jane Got A Gun" putting their money on the names Portman & Fassbender?

But the questions remain. Is a films success directly related to the genre, the director and/or the actors in said film? Then again, maybe the film's budget plays a significant role? Nawl, a few of this years Oscar nomination were made on very low budgets. Heck, one was made for less than 5 Million. And who can forget The Help with a budget of 25 Million. Yep, it's now counting it's money at the tune of over 200 million.

Anyway, I think it's all about name recognition. I mean, at least that opens doors. But if your skin happens to be black and you're a director sporting a black cast, that opening is a sliver. So, even with the success of Django, it will be interesting to see how McQueen's "12 Years" does at the box office.

Adam Scott Thompson

The western was sort of replaced by the modern action film and neo-westerns such as "No Country for Old Men." Successful westerns these days take the genre in a new direction, but don't fall asleep at the controls like with "Cowboys and Aliens" (great premise, bad execution). But if there's one subgenre that never goes out of style in all of storytelling, it's the revenge tale.

Miles Ellison

They'd have to throw in some Lost Cause mythology to even get this made. And that would mean minimizing the black character's story.


this seems like a more interesting story on paper than what Django was about.

BUT…."free Black man" and white guys in Kentucky and Texas during the Civil War?

wouldn't the white guys be fightng for the confederates, especially if they are assumed to be poor? and just roaming with a Freeman?



Sergio, you asked the question and you came up with the best answer. "Hey, it was a movie by Quentin. He could make a film about the Yellow Pages and people would still come to see it".

Yes sir, and that statements says more than meets the high. Quentin's name turns head not because of the subject matter he chooses, but because of his writing talent, vision and the excellent actors he attracts to his films. Not to mention his unmatched ability to get the best performances out of his actors.

Off point but related: I've seen the off camera directions, encouragements, patience and assistance given to the young star of The Beast Of A Southern Wild by the film's director. Her success is a direct reflection of his ability to convey his vision to her and then, draw that performance/image out of her…. settling for nothing but the best.

Tarantino is not only a good writer, he possess those same skills. He has his thumb on human emotions and gets the best from his actors. And those who move aside their in-differences with his subject matter and his alleged motives, appreciate all his skills as a director/writer, and thus immensely enjoy his films.

Having said that, it's not about the subject… many stories on wars, the wild west and "slavery" have been told, some mediocre and some great, but the defining factors will always be those in control, in conjunction with those they can attract and afford to help them in the process.


I think Django is a huge hit everywhere because its a great movie. It could help other the films like but I don't think it will.

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