Tombstone is a 1993 American western film directed by George P. Cosmatos, written by Kevin Jarre (who was also the original director, but was replaced early in production) and starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, with Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, and Dana Delany in supporting roles, as well as a narration by Robert Mitchum.
The film is based on events in Tombstone, Arizona, including the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the Earp Vendetta Ride, during the 1880s. It depicts a number of western outlaws and lawmen, such as Wyatt Earp, William Brocius, Johnny Ringo, and Doc Holliday.
Tombstone was released by Hollywood Pictures in theatrical wide release in the United States on December 24, 1993, grossing $56.5 million in domestic ticket sales. The film was a financial success, and for the Western genre it ranks number 14 in the list of highest grossing films since 1979. Critical reception was generally positive, but the film failed to garner award nominations for production merits or acting from any mainstream motion picture organizations.
Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), a retired peace officer with a notable reputation, reunites with his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton) in Tucson, Arizona, where they venture on towards Tombstone, a small mining town, to settle down. There they encounter Wyatt’s long-time friend Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer), a Southern gambler and expert gunslinger, who seeks relief from his worseningtuberculosis. Josephine Marcus (Dana Delany) and Mr. Fabian (Billy Zane) are also newly arrived in Tombstone with a traveling theater troupe. Meanwhile, Wyatt’s wife, Mattie Blaylock (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), is becoming dependent on a potent narcotic. Wyatt and his brothers begin to profit from a stake in a gambling emporium and saloon when they have their first encounter with a band of outlaws called the Cowboys, led by “Curly Bill” Brocious (Powers Boothe). The Cowboys are identifiable by the red sashes worn around their waist.
Wyatt, though no longer a lawman, is pressured to help rid the town of the Cowboys as tensions rise. Curly Bill begins shooting aimlessly after a visit to an opium house and is approached by Marshal Fred White (Harry Carey, Jr.) to relinquish his firearms. Curly Bill instead shoots the marshal dead and is forcibly taken into custody by Wyatt. The arrest infuriates Ike Clanton (Stephen Lang) and the other Cowboys. Curly Bill stands trial, but is found not guilty due to a lack of witnesses. Virgil, unable to tolerate lawlessness, becomes the new marshal and imposes a weapons ban within the city limits. This leads to the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, in which Billy Clanton (Thomas Haden Church) and other Cowboys are killed. Virgil and Morgan are wounded, and the allegiance of county sheriff Johnny Behan (Jon Tenney) with the Cowboys is made clear. As retribution for the Cowboy deaths, Wyatt’s brothers are ambushed; Morgan is killed, while Virgil is left handicapped. A despondent Wyatt and his family leave Tombstone and board a train, with Clanton and Frank Stilwell close behind, preparing to ambush them. Wyatt sees that his family leaves safely, and then surprises the assassins; he kills Stilwell, but lets Clanton return to send a message. Wyatt announces that he is a U.S. marshal, and that he intends to kill any man that he sees wearing a red sash. Wyatt, Doc, a reformed Cowboy named Sherman McMasters (Michael Rooker), along with their allies Texas Jack Vermillion (Peter Sherayko) and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson (Buck Taylor), join forces to administer justice.
Wyatt and his posse are ambushed in a riverside forest by the Cowboys. Hopelessly surrounded, Wyatt seeks out Curly Bill and kills him in a fast draw gunfight. Curly Bill’s second-in-command, Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn), becomes the new head of the Cowboys. When Doc’s health worsens, the group are accommodated by Henry Hooker (Charlton Heston) at his ranch. Ringo sends a messenger (dragging McMasters’ corpse) to Hooker’s property telling Wyatt that he wants a showdown to end the hostilities; Wyatt agrees. Wyatt sets off for the showdown, not knowing that Doc had already arrived at the scene. Doc confronts a surprised Ringo and kills him in a duel. Wyatt runs when he hears the gunshot only to encounter Doc. They then press on to complete their task of eliminating the Cowboys, although Clanton escapes their vengeance. Doc is sent to a sanatorium in Colorado where he later dies of his illness. At Doc’s urging, Wyatt pursues Josephine to begin a new life. The film ends with a narration of an account of their long marriage, ending with Wyatt’s death in Los Angeles in 1929.
According to a 2006 True West Magazine interview with Kurt Russell, Kevin Jarre and Kevin Costner were going to make the movie together, but disagreed over its focus. Costner felt that the emphasis should be on Wyatt Earp and decided to make his own movie with Lawrence Kasdan. Russell made an agreement with executive producer Andrew G. Vajna to finance Tombstone with a budget of $25 million.
Jarre and Russell wanted to cast Willem Dafoe as Doc Holliday, but Walt Disney Studios refused to distribute the film if he was cast, due to Dafoe’s role in the controversial The Last Temptation of Christ. As Costner was making a competing Wyatt Earp film, he used his then-considerable clout to convince most of the major studios to refuse to distributeTombstone—Disney was the only studio willing to do so. Jarre and Russell then went with their next choice, Val Kilmer.
Filming was plagued with several problems. Russell and Kilmer both have said that the screenplay was too long (Russell estimated by 30 pages). Kilmer told True West Magazine, “virtually every main character, every cowboy, for example, had a subplot and a story told, and none of them are left in the film.” He said that over 100 people, cast and crew, either quit or were fired over the course of the production. Russell even went so far as to cut his own scenes in order to let other actors have more screen time.
Early in the production, screenwriter Jarre was fired as director due to his refusal to cut his screenplay and going over schedule. Disney panicked because the film was two weeks behind and contacted George P. Cosmatos, who had worked with executive producer Vajna earlier on Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985). After Cosmatos’ death in 2005, Russell claimed in the True West Magazine interview that Cosmatos had in fact ghost-directed the movie on Russell’s behalf. Russell claimed he gave Cosmatos a shot list every night for the next day, and developed a “secret sign language” on set to exert influence.
Robert Mitchum was originally set to play Newman Haynes Clanton, but suffered a horse riding accident which left him unable to work. Mitchum ultimately narrated the film, and the part was written out of the script. Much of Old Man Clanton’s dialogue was spoken by other characters, particularly Curly Bill, who was effectively made the gang leader in lieu of Clanton.Glenn Ford was also cast as Marshall White, and Harry Carey, Jr. was to play a wagonmaster, but Ford dropped out of the project and Carey was cast as White.
The original motion picture soundtrack for Tombstone was originally released by Intrada Records on December 25, 1993. On March 16, 2006, an expanded two-disc version of the film score was also released by Intrada Records. The score was composed and produced by Bruce Broughton, and performed by the Sinfonia of London. David Snell conducted most of the score (although Broughton normally conducts his own scores, union problems mandated another conductor here), while Patricia Carlin edited the film’s music.
The score contains strong echoes of Max Steiner’s music for John Ford’s The Searchers (1956) with variations on the ‘Indian Traders’ theme used midway through the Ford movie. The album begins with the Cinergi logo, composed by Jerry Goldsmith and conducted by Broughton.
|Tombstone: Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Film score by Bruce Broughton|
|Released||March 16, 2006|
A paperback novel published by Berkley Publishers titled Tombstone, was released on January 1, 1994. The book dramatizes the real-life events of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Earp Vendetta, as depicted in the film. It expands on western genre ideas written by Kevin Jarre’s screenplay, which took place during the 1880s.Marketing
Tombstone premiered in movie theaters six months before Costner and Kasdan‘s version, Wyatt Earp, on December 24, 1993 in wide release throughout the United States. During its opening weekend, the film opened in third place, grossing $6,454,752 in business showing at 1,504 locations. The film’s revenue increased by 35% in its second week of release, earning $8,720,255. For that particular weekend, the film jumped to third place, screening in 1,955 theaters. The film went on to earn $56,505,065 in total ticket sales in the North American market. It ranks 20th out of all films released in 1993.