WonderCon: Jon Favreau on ‘Cowboys and Aliens’

  Director Jon Favreau talks about his new Sci-Fi Western, 'Cowboys and Aliens'

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Jon Favreau - Cowboys and Aliens

Cowboys and Aliens is one of the most interesting film ideas to come out in years. You see, there are cowboys. And there are also aliens. Jon Favreau showed some scenes to the WonderCon audience, days after a longer reel showed at CinemaCon. In the press room, I got a chance to ask Favreau my own questions, and luckily he’s the type to go on and on with an answer!


CraveOnline: You were writing and planning to direct a western with you and Vince Vaughn.

Jon Favreau: The Marshal of Revelation.


CraveOnline: Did any of those ideas end up in Cowboys and Aliens?

Jon Favreau: Some. Certainly the research I’ve been doing for like a decade in hopes that I would get to do a western did. And a lot of elements that I had written, because we were both commenting on all of the tropes of the western and the western has always done that. You think back to Stagecoach, that was already after westerns were done. It was reinvented and all the archetypes and all of those moments and the showdown, there are certain paradigms that the western never departs from. There are only so many stories that are told in the western set of mythology. They borrowed and researched the same things so there were a lot of things that were very similar. The important thing though was that was meant to be more of an indie. By combining it with the aliens, it turned into something where the title is very memorable and evokes reaction instantly from people. Either “That’s awesome” or “Is that going to be silly?” or “Is that a comedy?” But everybody remembers it. It’s hard to talk now, but when I signed on to do this, when we were entering into the summer with all the superhero movies and all the big sequels, there were a lot of big bad wolves in this forest. I’ve had the experience on movies like Zathura where they don’t even know your name. This isn’t strong source material where it has a following. The interesting aspect of the source material is what it evokes, but you’re guaranteed nothing with it. By showing that first teaser trailer where you see Harrison, you see Daniel, they start to flash some of the names of people behind the camera, myself, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, it starts to intrigue people. But they’re confused. They don’t know if it’s going to be a joke or if it’s going to be funny or if it’s a spoof. Now as the summer begins and this is wonderful in nine minutes to say, “Okay, here’s exactly what the tone is.” We can’t hope to always do that with the trailers but we can show it to those people. They’ll talk to each other and then show it to a few people in the press who care enough about getting the story right and not just talking about a blurb and a sound bite. That’s why it’s fun to come here because now I don’t have to explain to you what it is. You’ve really seen it. To have aliens in daylight was something I never would have taken on before having worked with them twice on the Iron Man franchise. That was all metal in the dark. You probably all know I’m very skeptical of CG. It has to be done exactly right but I’ve worked now with them and I understand it better. Really, the stuff that was just basically hinted to, but the whole end of the movie, and we’re in the midst of doing it, is really exciting and dynamic. Hopefully we can hold that stuff back and not show it all before we release this movie.


CraveOnline: What kind of response did you get from the CinemaCon footage?

Jon Favreau: We showed some footage, not this, to exhibitors in a smaller space. We weren’t there. I didn’t go there. I was gearing up for finishing the movie. I was up at ILM at the time and I was getting ready for this. CinemaCon I don't know that well, I’ve never been there.


CraveOnline: It’s ShoWest.

Jon Favreau: It’s ShoWest, yeah. ShoWest has traditionally been about exhibitors and stars. Nowadays I think that the audiences have as loud of a voice in many ways as the exhibitors do because of social networking. I think they understand if you’re dealing with something genre like this, it’s a good place to start the conversation because it will radiate out. They’re the first also to throw the flag if they don’t like what you’re doing. So you’re taking a chance when you’re showing stuff, but I think our best asset on this movie is the movie itself. I think that that’s worth a lot nowadays and I think that’s one of the good things that comes out of [it]. There might be piracy, it might be hard to test a movie because everything gets reviewed, but I will say that if you have something good, you will see a trend up over the course of one weekend and if it’s bad, it will trend down. You can no longer predict from Friday afternoon box office what a movie’s going to make because people talk to each other. So you have to really respect your audience more now than ever.


CraveOnline: The marketing now says “From the director of Iron Man.” How does that feel as opposed to the guy who said money in Swingers?

Jon Favreau: It’s fun to have a body of work now. Now it’s fun to have, and I deal with Ron Howard, he’s really the poster child of that. Now having done Swingers and Elf and Iron Man and now this, it makes you relax a little bit more. It feels like I did more than I thought I would ever do so everything from here on is like great, but I don’t feel that scared feeling I used to feel about I hope I get to do this next year. So that’s fun and it’s fun to be able to take on a lot of different genres and have a body of work that says, “Hey, I know what I’m doing in comedy. I know what I’m doing in sci-fi. I know what I’m doing in action.” 


Photo Credit – Adriana M. Barraza / WENN.com