If A 'The Magnificent Seven' Sequel Happens, The Star-Powered Remake Could Bring Westerns Back
If you've been wanting to see more of Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt in cowboy hats and boots with spurs, the new remake of The Magnificent Seven is here for you. The Western film stars those two actors as part of a cast that also includes Ethan Hawke and Byung-hun Lee, all playing members of a team of seven outlaw cowboys. The group takes on a villain played by Peter Sarsgaard (classic shootouts and all) when he tries to destroy a Western town on his ruthless path to riches. It's a remake of the 1960 film The Magnificent Seven , starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, which is, itself, a remake of the classic 1954 Akira Kurosawa film, Seven Samurai. Hollywood is often said to be in the midst of anobsession with not just remakes but also sequels, which begs the question for this remake of a remake: will The Magnificent Seven have a sequel?
There's nothing confirmed right now about any follow-up to the film. The cast and director of The Magnificent Seven are currently in the middle of a press tour for the film leading up to its Sept. 23 release, where their interviews have been more focused on promoting the movie and talking about their experiences on set than theorizing about a sequel. Still, there are some important factors to take a look at that will likely play a role in the decision over whether or not audiences will get to see Washington's charming, bolero-wearing Sam Chisholm ride again in a sequel.
Box Office Success
One of the biggest contributing factors for making a sequel is the money, naturally. The film industry leans heavily on sequels and reboots because of the assumed "built-in audience" and familiarity they bring, which generally translates to built-in money. If an audience turns out for a film, that same audience — and more — is expected to turn out for a sequel. But, as Variety reported in their box office projections for The Magnificent Seven, Westerns have a history of being hit-or-miss, with notable flops like The Lone Ranger making studios reluctant to shell out for the expensive production costs that tend to come with the genre.
In an interview with CinemaBlend, the cast of the film spoke in depth about the financial challenges that go into making a good Western, with Peter Sarsgaard acknowledging that "It's not a financial slam dunk for anyone. People like Westerns, but they're not easy to make." Ethan Hawke elaborated that, "to have a whole town catch on fire, and the townspeople and the costumes and all of those horses ... It's just expensive," and said, "it's a risk. Whereas, if you put a zombie in it, [studios] feel more comfortable that it'll sell." According to Variety, The Magnificent Seven, which was shot for $90 million, is predicted to bring in a solid $35 million dollars in its opening weekend, hopefully due in part to the strength of its diverse cast. If the film is a financial success, it could likely spur talk of a sequel.
Sure, just about any script can finagle its way into establishing a semi-convincing excuse for being a sequel, but it helps an awful lot to have an original film that lends itself to a continuation of a story or premise. Fortunately for The Magnificent Seven, a ragtag gang of rebel do-gooders is a formula rife for sequels, and the premise can be replicated and tweaked in many different ways (see: the Ocean's film franchise). In fact, the 1960 version of The Magnificent Seven spurred three sequels (and a TV show) from which writers could mine material: Return of the Seven, Guns of the Magnificent Seven, and The Magnificent Seven Ride. Yul Brynner was the only original cast member to be involved in a sequel, and even he only participated in Return, but his character of Chris Adams — Washington's Sam Chisholm in the reboot —remained the central focus of the films.
As shown above, getting all the cast members to return for a sequel isn't by any means a requirement, but it would go a long way to ensuring a successful sequel if the main stars were on board. Washington, as noted by Variety, is a consistently successful box-office draw, and he has worked with The Magnificent Seven director Antoine Fuqua on two of his biggest box-office hits, Training Day and The Equalizer. Fuqua even told Uproxx that he was envisioning the Washington as the star of Seven from the beginning: "I want to see Denzel on a horse with guns shooting people,” he said. Based on the history the two share, it would be a natural fit for them to continue the story of The Magnificent Seven, though the IMDB page for Washington's upcoming The Equalizer 2 notes that it would be the actor's first time in a sequel.
So could A Magnificent Seven sequel happen? It's certainly a real possibility.
Images: MGM/Columbia Pictures