WR saddles up for Kane Westerns
May 9, 2011
By Dave McNary
Co. acquires screen rights to all 83 books in Masterson series
Newly minted WR Films Entertainment Group is aiming to reimagine the Western with time-shifting gunslinger Morgan Kane.
The company's acquired screen rights to all 83 books in Louis Masterson's "Morgan Kane" series, which have sold close to 15 million copies in Europe. The narrative centers on a brutal gunslinger who roamed the American West as a Texas Ranger, a U.S. marshal and a desperado while moving through history a la Forrest Gump.
L.A.-based WR Films, which has stayed under the radar since its founding in late 2009, is launching foreign sales of the first three "Morgan Kane" pics at Cannes.
Founder Ryan Wiik and chairman-CEO Jim Cardwell plan to commence principal photography late this year for the first feature film in the series, "Morgan Kane -- The Legend Begins."
Writing under the pen name of Louis Masterson, late Norwegian author Kjell Hallbing began reinventing the Western genre for European readers when he wrote "Without Mercy," the first entry in the "Kane" series, in 1966. He wrote another 82 books by 1985, with Kane surviving Custer's last stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, fighting alongside Pancho Villa in the Mexican Revolution and encountering Billy the Kid, the Dalton Brothers, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Teddy Roosevelt and many other figures of the era.
"The Morgan Kane stories stand out because they had such great characters and kinetic action scenes that were something out of a James Bond film," said Wiik, a native of Norway. "Kane was the ultimate anti-hero who played by his own rules; he was a gunslinger who used martial arts to kill when he ran out of bullets, and was a borderline sociopath. His creator Masterson was a rogue author who reimagined the Western novel the way Steig Larrson transformed the mystery genre."
Company plans to shoot in either New Mexico or Texas. WR is seeking a screenwriter and will meet with the consortium of European private investors who are funding the first three "Morgan Kane" films.
"The Morgan Kane films we will make will be unique in their scope with high-profile cast, gifted filmmakers, compelling stories and non-stop action," Cardwell said. "This is what the worldwide audience demands today."
Cardwell is the former prexy of Warner Home Video. Co-chairman/chief financial officer Duane M. Eberlein is a former exec at Caesars World, and prexy of production John Michaels is the former production president at Magnet Media Group and VIP Media Funds USA.