Favreau, Downey Jr. May Play ‘Cowboys and Aliens’

Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. are gearing up to play Cowboys and Aliens.

Favreau is circling to direct the DreamWorks/Universal project, which has had Downey attached since last summer. A summer 2010 production start is being eyed, according to media reports today.

Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are producing with Steven Spielberg, Platinum Studios CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.

DreamWorks and Universal will co-finance. Via DreamWorks’ exit agreement with Paramount, the latter studio could distribute. As it ramps up production for the next few years’ slates, DreamWorks likely would anchor its 2011 summer to Cowboys, the Heat Vision blog suggests.

Kurtzman and Orci are rewriting the script with Lost exec producer Damon Lindelof.

The story is set in the Old West, where cowboys and Native Americans battle in Arizona, until a spaceship crashes and a new enemy equipped with superior technology emerges.

The project is based on the Platinum Studios Comics 2006 graphic novel written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley. Cowboys and Aliens, however, was first acquired by Universal and DreamWorks in 1997 based on a one-sheet of a cowboy and a spaceship. At the time, Steve Oedekerk was aboard to write and direct.

Eventually, the project moved to Columbia Pictures and Escape Artists, and then back to Universal and DreamWorks. The script has been through at least seven writers or writing teams. (Variety has a chart detailing the project’s 12-year progression.)

Favreau is currently in post-production on Iron Man 2, slated for a May 2010 release.

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