It is vaguely amazing that Seth MacFarlane has become the media titan that he is today, and no matter what you think of his work, you have to give it up to the guy for the way he turned things around.
There was a point, after all, when he was just the guy whose show got canceled not once, but twice. It would have been easy, between 2002 and 2005, to pretty much count MacFarlane out. Now, here we are eight years later, and not only is he hosting the Academy Awards this coming Sunday night, but he’s actually nominated for one of those Oscars, his film “Ted” is a gigantic worldwide megasmash hit, he’s got three different animated shows running at the same time, and he’s gearing up to make his second movie.
I’d say that qualifies as one of the greatest bounces in recent memory.
Media Rights Capital is underwriting the film, and I like the way MacFarlane’s played it this time around, putting together an entire package before finding a studio partner. And despite Deadline’s insistence that this is a “kindred spirit” to “Blazing Saddles,” something MacFarlane directly disputed in this week’s Entertainment Weekly cover story, they seem to have the details on how the auction is coming together on the film.
For any filmmaker, this is the best position to be in, and at this point, his track record justifies the frenzy that may be kicked off when the auction actually begins. I find it sort of stunning that a movie about a foul-mouthed teddy bear has grossed north of $500 million worldwide so far, but considering the script for “A Million Ways To Die In The West” was co-written with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, his partners in crime on “Ted” and “Family Guy,” it’s a safe bet that this new film has at least a shot at doing the same sort of business. In the film, MacFarlane will star as a farmer who is forced to become a gunslinger, and he’ll co-star with Amanda Seyfried and Charlize Theron.
If I was a betting man, I’d bet on Universal landing the rights in the end. FIrst, I’m sure they’re going to do whatever they can to make the deal attractive to him financially, but more than that, they have proven with their handling of “Ted” that they know how to sell what it is that he does. What I’ve said about the Universal team for a while now is that they take chances, and they back those chances completely. They may not have been able to convince the public that they wanted to see “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,” but they did everything they could to sell the movie, and more importantly, they didn’t misrepresent it. I hate when a studio lies about the film they’re selling, and Universal may not always figure out how to get the audience in their seats, but they sell the movie they’ve actually made.
It should be interesting to see how this one lands, but I’m guessing once it is set up, everything will fall into place quickly, and we’ll probably be sitting down to see the Western comedy sometime next summer, that familiar Universal logo right there at the front of it.
In the meantime, MacFarlane will be hosting the Oscars this Sunday, and you’ll find plenty of coverage of the big event right here at HitFix.