What You Need to Know about the Making of 3:10 to Yuma

What You Need to Know about the Making of 3:10 to Yuma

Anyone who works in the film industry knows that getting a movie made isn’t always easy. While films based on popular comic book characters, YA novels, and other successful properties tend to get greenlit fairly quickly, other types of projects can take some time to bring to the screen. Thus, it can be interesting to learn about the production of such movies. These stories provide insights that can help viewers better understand the amount of work and dedication that goes into making a major motion picture.

An example worth studying is the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, released in 2007 and based on the 1957 film of the same name. This film marked a return to the western genre for Hollywood, making it a very welcome treat for viewers who craved more movies like the classics they enjoyed decades ago.

James Mangold
James Mangold | Image courtesy Gage Skidmore | Flickr

However, getting the project made wasn’t always easy. The decision to make the picture was announced as early as 2003. James Mangold was named as director, but he decided to put the movie on hold while he focused on other projects. He returned to the production in 2006 after receiving a rewrite of the original script.

This delay in the making of the film is common. Smart directors choose their projects carefully. They want to know they are working with material they feel comfortable putting on screen. Thus, it’s important for every major element to meet their standards. When remaking a prior film or adapting an existing property, this often means going through script rewrites until the director is satisfied. It’s worth pointing out that this is not a negative quality; directors are responsible for the finished product, and those who take the time to optimize essential elements like the screenplay before they begin filming are more likely to make strong pictures.

Even with the new script, the remake of 3:10 to Yuma didn’t immediately move forward when Mangold stepped back into the ring. First, the filmmakers had to find the right performers for the two major roles. Although both Christian Bale and Russell Crowe seem like natural choices for their roles in hindsight, they were not the only two actors considered for their respective parts.

The script rewrite that brought James Mangold back to the project also attracted Tom Cruise at one point. He had an opening in his schedule, and was interested in playing the villain, before choosing other projects to focus on instead. Eric Bana also briefly considered appearing in the movie.

The struggle to find suitable actors for the major roles significantly delayed the production. After it was clear that neither Cruise nor Bana would appear in the film, the original studio behind the project decided not to develop it further and offered it to other studios to recoup its development costs. This forced Mangold and his production team to find another company willing to make the picture. Luckily, when Christian Bale signed on to play the lead role, his clout helped attract other studios.

This illustrates another reason it can take a long time to get certain types of films made. Even if a director is enthusiastic about a project, he or she needs to attract actors who are popular enough to generate interest among audiences. This is particularly important if the film is not based on a property with a large, pre-existing fan base. Although some fans of the original movie would certainly be interested in a 3:10 to Yuma remake, this film certainly didn’t have the built-in fan base that a film based on a comic book character tends to have. Thus, it’s necessary to find actors whom audiences will want to see.

Luckily, Christian Bale helped to keep the momentum of the film moving in the right direction. The production team was able to find actors to fill the other major roles, and a date to begin filming was finally set—several years after Mangold originally planned on making the picture.

However, the results were worth the wait. 3:10 to Yuma is such an effective film because key elements came together properly in the early stages. By waiting for the right script and taking his time to find the perfect cast, director James Mangold proved that even though it can take time to make this kind of movie, the effort involved can pay off.

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