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Jason Bateman Saddles Up to Direct Bad Robot’s Supernatural Western ‘The Pinkerton’

The project was first announced in 2020

Jason Bateman has added another film to his growing list of directorial obligations. And this one sounds fun.

TheWrap has confirmed that Bateman has signed on to direct “The Pinkerton,” from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Warner Bros. Based on a spec script by Daniel Casey (“F9”). This marks the first feature project since Abrams’ Bad Robot and Warner Bros. signed a lucrative, $250 million deal in 2019. Bateman will also produce “The Pinkerton” alongside Michael Costigan and Bad Robot’s Abrams and Hannah Minghella.

While details on the script aren’t known, it is said to be a supernatural Western revenge movie. The Pinkerton Detective Agency, as it is now known, was established in 1850 by a Scottish-born abolitionist named Allan Pinkerton. Pinkerton claimed to have foiled the 1861 plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln (known as the Baltimore Plot), who then hired the group as spies and his personal security force during the Civil War. In 1907 a book was published that detailed the abuses carried out by Pinkerton agents, in particular their involvement in the Colorado Labor Wars of 1903 and 1904.

But the mystique around their status as “old timey spies” and their involvement in key moments in history have meant that the Pinkertons have enjoyed a lot of pop culture exposure (Arthur Conan Doyle had a Pinkerton character in the Sherlock Holmes story “The Valley of Fear,” Felix Leiter in the James Bond novels became a Pinkerton agent, etc.) It’s easy to see what was so appealing about the project for Abrams and Bateman.

It’s also notable that Abrams is finally producing a movie for Warner Bros. Previously, the producer had been attached to the “magical” side of the DC Universe, something that has obviously been abandoned in recent weeks with the appointment of James Gunn and Peter Safran to run the new DC Studios shingle. And several high-profile television projects from Abrams have been canceled, including “Lovecraft Country” and “Westworld” (which actually made it to air) and “Demimonde,” Abrams’ passion project, which was squashed before it was ever finished.

Bateman’s plate is pretty full at the moment. After backing out of projects like “Clue” (with Ryan Reynolds attached to star) and “Artemis” (with Scarlett Johansson), he recently signed on for “Dark Wire,” based on Joseph Cox’s novel, for Netflix (where he made “Ozark” for many years). In 2020 he co-starred and directed the first two episodes of HBO’s “The Outsider,” based on the Stephen King novel, which seems at least somewhat tonally similar to what Abrams and company are attempting with “The Pinkerton.” Hope he gets his man.