Jeff Bridges has some big boots to fill. And he might be putting those boots in stirrups here in Oklahoma.
Bridges has been selected to portray U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn, a role that earned the Duke his only Oscar.
The Coen Brothers are remaking the 1969 movie “True Grit,” which starred John Wayne as the one-eyed lawman. The original was filmed in Colorado, California and Mexico.
Jill Simpson, director of the Oklahoma Film and Music Office, disclosed this week that several sites were shown to location scouts for the movie. She made the comments during a House interim study on rebates given by the state to filmmakers to come here to shoot movies.
Most of the locations shown were in eastern Oklahoma; the Fort Gibson area has some sites that would fit the era of the late 1880s, when the story takes place mostly in present-day Oklahoma, Simpson said.
Other actors signed up for the film include Matt Damon, who will play La Boeuf, the role played by Glen Campbell in the original movie, and Josh Brolin, who will portray Tom Haney, the man who shot Mattie’s father, Simpson said. Mattie, played by Kim Darby in the original flick, recruits Cogburn to chase down Haney and his gang.
Ethan and Joel Coen would like to start shooting the movie in March, she said. It’s planned to be released late next year.
According to Variety, they aren’t planning a traditional remake. They would return to the original Charles Portis novel, which is told from Mattie’s point of view.
Getting the Academy Award-winning brothers to Oklahoma would spur other filmmakers to consider filming in the Sooner State, Simpson told the House committee. Films shot in Oklahoma create jobs and help the state’s image, she said. Tourists also like going to spots where films are shot long after camera crews have left.
A big factor whether the Coens come to Oklahoma depends on if legislators in a budget-strapped year can allocate additional money to the film commission for incentives to land part of the movie production here.
The film incentive program is capped at $5 million a year. Ten films that are shooting in Oklahoma are committed to receive about $5.5 million in rebates this fiscal year, Simpson said.
Two movies already are committed to receive rebates in fiscal year 2011, which starts July 1, she said. Those two commitments plus a carryover of about $557,000 from this fiscal year leaves only $1.2 million in rebates available next year.
A new state law that took effect July 1 increased the program from a rebate of up to 15 percent on production expenditures in Oklahoma to 35 percent.
Simpson said that it is estimated “True Grit,” a film projected to cost about $35 million, would spend about $13 million in production costs in Oklahoma; the filmmakers then would be eligible for a rebate of $4.6 million from the state.
Simpson asked the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee to remove the current $5 million annual cap.
- Michael McNutt, Capitol Bureau