I have several reasons for excitement regarding the announcement that HBO will be making a film titled Bone Wars. The title is ripe for being ripped off as a porn film, but that is certainly not what excites me about this production. Anyone interested in palaeontology, particularly dinosaurs, should know about the rivalry between Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope during the latter part of the 19th century (if not, here is the obligatory Wiki link). I still have copies of a dinosaur magazine I read as a child and remember the comic strip about the Great Dinosaur Rush, it makes for a fantastic story. HBO are going to be making it as a period comedy starring James Gandolfini of The Sopranos fame as Marsh, and Steve Carell, who seems to be in everything lately, as Cope. I can think of several reasons why this could be a hit. In no particular order:
1) It is a fantastic story. The rivalry between the two fascinating characters bordered on ridiculous at times, giving the script writers a lot to work with. I’d expect a fair bit of slapstick which should work very well. And just who is the bad guy? Anti-heroes can really get an audience paying attention.
2) It is, essentially, a western. Are westerns making a comeback? Tarantino’s Django Unchained shows their potential for a modern audience, not to mention, Victorian era aesthetics seem to be rather popular lately (particularly with regards to steam punk), and this story offers a very different approach to that period. We’ve seen gun fights, gold prospecting, slavery etc. and we will soon see the Great Dinosaur Rush and the frenzy in which many got caught up.
3) Dinosaurs, on the big screen! The timing seems almost perfect. Jurassic Park 3D is either out right now or soon to be out, depending on where you live, and there is promise of Jurassic Park 4 next year which has been getting rather a lot of publicity due to the announcement that there will be no feathers (I had my say recently). There will also be a Walking With Dinosaurs film, which will include feathered dinosaurs. So although Bone Wars might not have dinosaurs running around on screen, though that depends on how they write it, the public may well start suffering from dinosaur fever and start throwing money at cinema cashiers in order to see this film (hopefully they will not throw the money, especially change, but will hand it over politely).
4) The cast. OK, so we only know that the film boasts Carell and Gandolfini, but these are two actors who could really make this work. Carell in particular has become known as a comedic giant on the big screen and could bring a lot to the role of E.D. Cope. His presence may entice those who would normally overlook a film which is based on a key period in the history of palaeontology.
5) I will buy all of the tickets. This one sadly won’t happen, I can’t afford it.