ⓘ The Magnificent Seven (2016 film)

The Magnificent Seven (2016 film)

ⓘ The Magnificent Seven (2016 film)

The Magnificent Seven is a 2016 American western action film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk. It is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name, which in turn is a reimagining of the 1954 film Seven Samurai. The film stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent DOnofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, and Peter Sarsgaard. It is the final film of composer James Horner, who died the previous year after composing part of the score; his friend Simon Franglen completed the music.

Principal photography began on May 18, 2015, in the north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Magnificent Seven premiered on September 8, 2016, at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, and was released in the United States on September 23, 2016, in conventional and IMAX theatres. The film received mixed reviews from critics, although the cast, action sequences, and score were praised, and grossed $162 million worldwide.


1. Plot

In 1879, robber baron and gold-mining tycoon Bartholomew Bogue assumes control of the American frontier town of Rose Creek, and subjects its residents to forced labor in his mines. After a town church assembly denounces him, Bogue has the church torched and kills a group of rebellious locals led by Matthew Cullen. Matthews widow, Emma Cullen, and her friend Teddy Q. ride in search of bounty hunters to help liberate the town. They recruit Sam Chisholm, an African-American U.S. Marshal, who expresses interest only after hearing of Bogues involvement.

With the help of Emma and Teddy, Chisholm recruits gambler Joshua Faraday, Mexican outlaw Vasquez, former Confederate marksman Goodnight "Goody" Robicheaux, Robicheauxs Korean traveling partner Billy Rocks, and legendary game hunter Jack Horne. The group encounters a Comanche warrior named Red Harvest, whom Chisolm persuades to join the posse.

The Seven enter Rose Creek and eliminate thirty-four Blackstone private military contractors on Bogues payroll. Chisholm sends the corrupt sheriff, Mr. Harp, away to inform Bogue that they now control his holdings in Rose Creek. Chisholm surmises that Bogue will return with an army in seven days. The Seven liberate forced laborers from a Bogue Mining digsite, and spend the next week, with Emma and the townspeoples help, fortifying the town and training in combat. Meanwhile, Bogue receives the news of Rose Creeks liberation, murders Harp for his failure, and orders his Comanche enforcer Denali and his right-hand man McCann to assemble an army. Robicheaux, haunted by his experiences in the Civil War and fearing his own death if he kills again, leaves the town the night before Bogues arrival; Emma volunteers to take his place.

The next morning, Bogue and his army attack Rose Creek, which has been surrounded with traps and explosive networks. As the battle rages, Faraday is wounded by McCann, who is killed by Vasquez; the defensive line collapses, and Robicheaux returns to help. Bogue and his remaining men fire a Gatling gun from a hill leading into the town, killing many of the townspeople and Bogues own mercenaries. Realizing they are outgunned, the Seven evacuate the survivors and mount a last stand. Horne protects a wounded Teddy Q. from gunfire, but is killed by Denali, who is later killed by Red Harvest.

Robicheaux and Billy are killed by a second round of gunfire; Faraday makes a suicidal charge up the hill and destroys the Gatling gun with dynamite, killing most of Bogues remaining men. Bogue and his two surviving mercenaries proceed into the town to confront Chisholm. After killing the two men, Chisholm enters a standoff with Bogue, and shoots his hand as he draws, disarming him. A wounded Bogue retreats into the church, where Chisholm reveals that his family was lynched in 1867 by ex-Confederate soldiers, who were hired by Bogue to drive homesteaders out of Kansas. After imploring Bogue to repent, Chisholm begins to garrote him; Bogue produces a revolver, but Emma shoots him dead.

The townspeople return to Rose Creek and thank Chisholm, Vasquez, and Red Harvest for their service as they ride off. Faraday, Robicheaux, Billy and Horne are buried near town and honored as heroes. Emma, in voice-over narration, reflects fondly on the noble sacrifice that made them "magnificent".


2. Cast

The Seven
  • Ethan Hawke as Goodnight Robicheaux, a Cajun former Confederate soldier and sharpshooter who suffers from PTSD. He shares similar character traits with the character Lee portrayed by Robert Vaughn from the 1960 original.
  • Martin Sensmeier as Red Harvest, an exiled Comanche warrior and the youngest of the Seven. He shares similar character traits with the character Chico portrayed by Horst Buchholz from the 1960 original.
  • Denzel Washington as Sam Chisholm, an African American United States Marshal warrant officer from Wichita, Kansas, and the leader of the Seven. He shares similar character traits with the character Chris Adams portrayed by Yul Brynner from the 1960 original.
  • Vincent DOnofrio as Jack Horne, a devoutly religious mountain man and tracker. He shares similar character traits with the character Bernardo OReilly portrayed by Charles Bronson from the 1960 original.
  • Byung-hun Lee as Billy Rocks, a knife-wielding Korean assassin and Robicheauxs companion. He shares similar character traits with the character Britt portrayed by James Coburn from the 1960 original.
  • Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Vasquez, a Mexican outlaw who has been on the run for several months. He shares similar character traits with the character Vin Tanner portrayed by Steve McQueen from the 1960 original.
  • Chris Pratt as Joshua Faraday, a gambler and rogue with a fondness for explosives and card tricks. He shares similar character traits with the character Harry Luck portrayed by Brad Dexter from the 1960 original.
  • Luke Grimes as Teddy Q, Emmas friend and traveling companion who helps her hire the Seven.
  • Jody Mullins as Caleb Frankel, Lenis farmer husband who is murdered by McCann.
  • Dane Rhodes as Sheriff Harp, Rose Creeks sheriff who defected to Bogue.
  • Jonathan Joss as Denali, an exiled Comanche warrior who works for Bogue.
  • Matt Bomer as Matthew Cullen, Emmas farmer husband who is murdered by Bogue.
  • Sean Bridgers as Fanning.
  • Billy Slaughter as Josiah.
  • Chad Randall as Powder Dan, an outlaw executed by Sam Chisom in the beginning who was wanted for murder.
  • David Kallaway as Turner, the towns blacksmith.
  • Carrie Lazar as Leni Frankel, another widow in Rose Creek with a baby.
  • Clint James as Fenton.
  • Haley Bennett as Emma Cullen, a young widow who hires the Seven. She takes the place of the nameless Old Man played by Vladimir Sokoloff who was the one who assembled the seven together in the 1960 original.
  • Mark Ashworth as Preacher, Rose Creeks preacher.
  • Cam Gigandet as McCann, Bogues right-hand-man.
  • Peter Sarsgaard as Bartholomew Bogue, a corrupt industrialist. He takes the place of Calvera played by Eli Wallach who was the main antagonist of the 1960 original.
  • Matthew Posey as Hank Stoner.

3.1. Production Development

The film was reported to be in the planning stages in 2012, with Tom Cruise set to star, and Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, and Matt Damon also up for roles. In December 2013, Cruise reportedly left the project while John Lee Hancock was brought in to write a new draft of the script. In early 2014, MGM chairman Gary Barber and his cohorts approached Antoine Fuqua to read the script by Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto, while Fuqua was making Southpaw.

Fuqua has loved western films since discovering the genre at the age of 12, and said that his grandmother, with whom he would watch films such as Shane 1953 and The Searchers 1956, was a key inspiration during the remake. Fuqua also tried to stay true to the DNA of Seven Samurai, on which the film is based.

Fuqua said he wanted to remake the film because the subject of tyranny and terrorism still prevails as it did in Seven Samurai. He has said that there is therefore a strong need for people to step up and serve, which is what samurai means – "to serve." Fuqua never imagined he would get a chance to direct a Western film, and when MGM called him to helm the picture, he hesitated at first, given the high regard he had for Seven Samurai and its director, Akira Kurosawa.


3.2. Production Casting

Fuqua worked to create a diverse cast by incorporating actors of color such as African-American Denzel Washington, Korean Lee Byung-hun and Mexican Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and making sure the lead female Emma Cullen Haley Bennett did not conform to stereotypes. It is a decision Fuqua stated reflects historical reality more than it does any conscious attempt to update the story. "There were a lot of black cowboys, a lot of Native Americans; Asians working on the railroads. The truth of the West is more modern than the movies have been." When Fuqua met studio executives to see possible actors for the film, he saw that they were all white. He found this to be problematic and instead wanted to make the cast diverse, so that audiences could identify with more of the characters. The actors were cast between December 2014 and July 2015. At one point, Jason Momoa was in talks to join the project, but had to leave because he was already booked to play Aquaman. The cast were put through cowboy training before filming commenced, and were sent to boot camp in order to hone their skills.

Denzel Washingtons character, warrant officer and bounty hunter Sam Chisolm, was renamed from Chris Adams played by Yul Brynner in the original film. It is Washingtons first Western film. Washington did not watch Western films growing up, as it was the end of the Western era in cinema. Moreover, he and his siblings were barred from going to the movies by his father, a minister in a church. They grew up watching biblical films instead, like King of Kings and The Ten Commandments, though he did watch portions of the Rawhide and Bonanza shows. Washington did not watch the original film in preparation but has seen Seven Samurai. This was an arbitrary decision of his, since he thought that watching the original would not help him; allowed me to do whatever I wanted to do. Instead of trying not to do what someone else did." As with his previous films, Washington would start off the day by kneeling down and praying, asking for forgiveness for all his wrongdoings. "For me," he said, "this is more than just making movies. It is a platform." Fuqua said that Washington, with whom he had twice collaborated, was his first choice to be cast irrespective of the role. The producers were skeptical whether Washington would take the job since it was a Western film, but Fuqua flew to New York City to negotiate with the actor, who accepted the offer.

Chris Pratt described his character Josh Faraday as "a bit of a fox, a trickster. Hes a gambler, a drinker. He loves the ladies. But hes deadly in a fire fight." Like Washington, it is also Pratts first Western film. Pratt began watching Western films at the age of 31, while filming in London, and credits Gary Cooper for revitalizing his perspective towards the genre. Fuqua, aware of Pratts penchant towards Westerns, reached out to him, and Pratt called back in a few days singing "Oh Shenandoah," to which Fuqua replied, "Hes it. Hes Steve McQueen."

Fuquas approach to Ethan Hawkes character Goodnight Robicheaux, a former Confederate soldier, was to picture him as if Christopher Walkens character Nikanor "Nick" Chevotarevich in The Deer Hunter was an emotionally shattered Civil War veteran. Hawke was the first person to come on board after the project was finalized. He had stumbled upon Fuqua and Washington during the New York premiere of The Equalizer in 2014 and, upon learning that a remake was in the works, asked Fuqua to cast him. Like Washington, The Magnificent Seven marks the third collaboration between Hawke and Fuqua, after Training Day 2001 and Brooklyns Finest 2009.

Manuel Garcia-Rulfo described his character Vasquez, a bandit on the run from the law, as someone who loves gunfighting.

Martin Sensmeier auditioned several times to land the role of Red Harvest, a native Comanche warrior. He stayed off social media and studied intently in order to portray his part. Scotty Augere, who had previously worked on Dances with Wolves, taught Sensmeier how to ride a horse bareback and rode with him two hours a day.

Vincent DOnofrio was cast as mountain man Jack Horn on the urging of co-stars Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke. For the role, DOnofrio developed a raw, high-pitched voice to give the impression of a man who has lived in the wilderness for years without speaking to people. When he asked to test the voice for Fuqua, the director refused to listen, instructing the actor to surprise him with it in his first scene, which resulted in a delighted Fuqua laughing so hard that he almost ruined the take.


3.3. Production Music

James Horner was tapped to write the films score, but he died in June 2015, before filming could commence. In July 2015, Fuqua learned that Horner had already begun working on the music before his passing, and intended to present it as a surprise. Horners friend and score producer Simon Franglen co-composed the score afterward. It was released on September 16, 2016 by Sony Classical, and is the third Horner score released posthumously.


3.4. Production Filming

Principal photography on the film lasted 64 days, from May 18 to August 18, 2015, in the north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Other locations include St. Francisville; Zachary, Louisiana; Jackson, Louisiana: Ridgway, Colorado; and New Mexico. Filming in St. Francisville was completed between May 18 and May 29, 2015.

The climactic battle between the Seven and a small army led by Bogue took three weeks to film; the weather was inclement. Sometimes the cast and crew would wait in the on-set saloon for storms to pass, and, at times when the storm would worsen, the trailer rocked and they would have to leave the set.

Since his grandmother was the prime influence on the film, every day after filming, Fuqua would ask himself if she would have had fun watching it.


4. Release

The film had its world premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, and served as the closing-night film at the Venice Film Festival on September 9, 2016. The film was originally set to be released on January 13, 2017; however in February 2016, Sony Pictures Entertainment moved the release date to September 23, 2016.


4.1. Release Marketing

Sony kicked off its campaign on April 20, 2016, launching the first trailer, and the cast took to their social media platforms to reveal character-by-character. Television advertisement began during the summer, when the trailers were paired with the NBA finals and BET Awards, as well as the 2016 Summer Olympics. Sony rounded out the campaign with a presence in live sporting events, such as National Football League, NCAA Football and local Major League Baseball games, as well as highly anticipated fall premieres and original programming, like Empire, The Voice, American Horror Story, Fear the Walking Dead and Designated Survivor.


5.1. Reception Box office

The Magnificent Seven grossed $93.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $68.9 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $162.4 million, against a net production budget of $90 million. The film had a global 2D IMAX opening of $4.3 million from 606 theaters.


5.2. Reception North America

In the United States and Canada, The Magnificent Seven was released alongside Storks, and was projected to open to around $30 million, with some estimates going as high as $50 million, which would have made it one of the biggest September debuts of all-time. The film opened in 3.674 theaters, and had the benefit of playing in all IMAX theaters for one week, and in a number of premium large formats and D-Box screens. It made $1.75 million from Thursday previews and $12.7 million on its first day. The film went on to gross $35.7 million in its opening weekend, of which $2.9 million came from 372 IMAX theaters, and topped the box office. It scored the third biggest Western opening not accounting for inflation, behind Rango $38.1 million and Cowboys & Aliens $36.4 million. It is also director Fuquas second biggest opening and Washingtons fourth biggest.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the film was released in theaters at a time when the Western genre had been struggling to attract wide audiences and accrue lucrative revenues, as it has shown considerable downfall in interest among patrons since the 1970s. The genre has had several recent box office flops, such as Cowboys & Aliens 2011 and The Lone Ranger 2013, but has also found success in films like True Grit 2010 and Django Unchained 2012. Its strong debut in North America was partly attributed to the presence of Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, who industry analysts say are two of only a handful of movie stars today who consistently draws large audiences to theaters, and also to Fuquas direction. Deadline Hollywood pointed out that the production budget also plays an important role in determining a films success. By comparison to other recent Westerns, The Magnificent cost $90 million to make, before promotion and marketing costs are included. The site pointed out that "the trick is keeping their budgets reasonable," unlike The Lone Ranger, which cost $215 million to make, and Cowboys & Aliens, which cost $163 million. The film became a financial recoverer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer after the studio lost a great deal of money with Ben-Hur the previous month, and was the studios second hit of the year, following the sleeper Me Before You, released in June.


5.3. Reception Outside North America

The film was projected to gross around $100 million, with foreign box office prognosticators expecting a total similar to The Hateful Eight s $101.6 million. It was released in South Korea its first international market on September 14, 2016, and delivered an opening of $5.1 million, finishing in third place at the box office, behind local film The Age of Shadows and Hollywood tentpole Ben-Hur. The following weekend, it opened in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Spain, and Russia, and grossed $19.2 million from 63 markets including Korea. IMAX made up $1.4 million from 234 theaters.

It opened in first place in Russia $1.8 million, Spain $1.1 million, and Malaysia $560.000, and second in the United Kingdom and Ireland $2.6 million, Germany $1.4 million, and Brazil $1.1 million, and had similar openings in Australia $2.8 million and France $1.9 million. China is not yet determined.


5.4. Reception Critical response

The Magnificent Seven received mixed reviews, with critics praising the cast, action sequences, and score, but stating that the film did not offer much originality or innovation. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 63%, based on 303 reviews, with an average rating of 6.03/10. The websites critical consensus reads, The Magnificent Seven never really lives up to the superlative in its title – or the classics from which it draws inspiration – but remains a moderately diverting action thriller on its own merits." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a score of 54 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.

IGN critic Terri Schwartz gave the film a 6.7/10 and summarized her review with: The Magnificent Seven ends up being a bit too predictable to reach its full potential, but the fun the cast clearly had making it allows the movie to be an enjoyable ride while it lasts. Fuqua does his best to update the Western for the modern audience, but doesnt capture what made those films great in the process. The action is big and sleek, the characters are charismatic and the film looks beautiful, but this wont be a movie that stays with you long after you leave the theater."

Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper praised the film, giving it a score of 3 stars out of 4, and writing: "Over all, this is a rousing, albeit sometimes cheesy, action-packed Western bolstered by Denzel Washington’s baddest-of-the-baddasses lead performance, mostly fine supporting work, and yep, some of the most impressively choreographed extended shootout sequences in recent memory."

James Berardinelli of Reelviews gave the film a score of 2 stars out of 4, writing: "The original The Magnificent Seven found a perfect balance between moments of grand triumph and the understated, solemn denouement. This The Magnificent Seven has the dour ending without the high points preceding it. With two better versions of this story readily available, why bother with this mediocre re-telling? Currently recognizable actors hardly seems like a good justification."

MTVs Amy Nicholson decried the film, writing: "Fuqua’s made two clean piles separating good and evil, and in doing so, he’s thrown away the film’s point. Now we can trade our conscience for a bucket of popcorn. Today’s The Magnificent Seven is just another superhero flick that spends half its running time assembling a band of bulletproof daredevils. Which makes sense - the original inspired The Avengers, which published its first comic three years after it was a hit."

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three out of four stars, saying, "The new Seven isnt aiming for cinema immortality. Its two hours of hardcore, shoot-em-up pow and its entertaining as hell."

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