The Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford film Cowboys & Aliens is streaming now on Peacock. The sci-fi/Western mash-up had everything going for it, including two of the world’s biggest stars as its main characters. For some reason, though, it wasn’t a success at the box office, meaning you might well have missed it.
Cowboys & Aliens, starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, is streaming on Peacock.
Whether you’re a fan of Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, or both, you have every reason to catch up on this unique, overlooked nugget that stretched genre boundaries. Written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman of Star Trek fame with their Lost partner Damon Lindeloft, the film is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. It is also directed by Jon Favreau, well-known for his work on the Iron Man films and The Mandalorian.
The story follows an outlaw who has lost his memory (Daniel Craig), a cattleman (Harrison Ford) and a strange traveler (Olivia Wilde) as they seek to help townspeople who have been abducted by aliens. The film also stars Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Paul Dano, and Noah Ringer. The original graphic novel was released in 2007, with the movie adaptation hitting theaters in 2011.
Back then, people hardly knew who Daniel Craig was, and it would be another decade before the book hit the presses.
Daniel Craig was, at that time, two films into his legendary career as super spy James Bond, while Harrison Ford had only a few years earlier made his fourth turn as Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The two seemed at once the oddest and most natural pair, perhaps because they are both custodians of time-honored adventure franchises. It seemed like—and really is—a winning combination that is worth seeing the movie to watch.
Beyond having Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in the cast and Favreau at the helm, the producers for the film include Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, and Steven Spielberg. In short, this film had nearly everything going for it, despite a long gestation through many script stages and a few other writers like Steve Oedekerk, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby. But the project’s development goes all the way back to 1997 when Universal Pictures and DreamWorks pictures bought the rights to what was then a graphic novel in development.
While audiences were originally meant to see Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in 3-D, director Jon Favreau was opposed to the idea, stating that Westerns should only be shot on film.
Back then, people hardly knew who Daniel Craig was, and it would be another decade before the book hit the presses. For a time in 2004, Columbia Pictures bought the rights but did not get beyond the development stage with the project. But once Universal re-acquired the rights to the graphic novel, production was able to move forward and the list of stars in front of and behind the camera only grew.
in 2008, Robert Downey, Jr., was in talks to appear in the film and mentioned it to Jon Favreau, who came to be attached as director in 2009. When Downey left the project in 2010 to film the second Sherlock Holmes movie, Daniel Craig was cast in his place. That same year, Harrison Ford was chosen to star alongside the moonlighting British secret agent.
With Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig in place, the cast began to come together, with Olivia Wilde’s key character cast next, followed by Sam Rockwell. Rockwell had also appeared in Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2, which might be one reason he was cast in Cowboys & Aliens. Steven Spielberg offered insights for the story to the writers and producers and invited them and the cast to private screenings of Western movies he thought might be helpful to them.
While audiences were originally meant to see Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in 3-D, director Jon Favreau was opposed to the idea, stating that Westerns should only be shot on film. The digital processes required either to shoot in 3-D or to convert to the format were steps Favreau felt would harm the genre fidelity of the film, and he instead hired Matthew Libatique as his director of photography. Libatique shot the film in anamorphic 35mm to give it a classic film look.
Audiences and critics were split on the finished film, with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford frequently cited as its strongest positives. The tone and style of the film does not fit neatly into existing boxes outlined by Hollywood, meaning it was difficult for some viewers to embrace. But if you’ve got a taste for the weird and for Westerns, now is a great time to stream Cowboys & Aliens on Peacock.