The Coen brothers TV series that was partially shot near Scottsbluff, Nebraska, is in fact a feature-length movie.
Variety and other sources are reporting that “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is a 132-minute Western with a chaptered anthology format. The film will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, which runs Aug. 29 through Sept. 8.
“Scruggs” is expected to be released on Netflix later this year, and it will get a theatrical release as well, qualifying it for awards consideration. It’s the first film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen since 2016’s “Hail, Caesar!”
The majority of the filming took place in Sioux County, in a spot about 20 minutes north of Scottsbluff, though a few scenes were shot along the North Platte River, west of town.
Several weeks prior to the shoot, the production held casting auditions for extras — seeking women with long hair and men with big beards. More than 700 tried out; about 50 landed parts as wagon-train pioneers.
According to Variety, the Coens’ Western will feature Tim Blake Nelson as the titular character, along with a cast that includes Liam Neeson, Tom Waits and Zoe Kazan, who is featured in the Nebraska chapter.
The project, which was previously thought to be a miniseries of some kind, reportedly featured six tales about a singing cowboy, a high-plains drifter, an impresario of a traveling show, a prospector, a stagecoach, and a woman on a wagon train. The last story was the one filmed in Nebraska.
How much of this makes it into the film remains to be seen. But at least we’ll be seeing it fairly soon.
“Buster Scruggs” will be Netflix’s highest-profile film to date, and it might be its first honest shot at a best picture nomination. The streaming service won its first Academy Award last year, a best documentary feature Oscar for its Russian doping doc, “Icarus.”
But “Scruggs” isn’t Netflix’s only prestigious film release yet to come this year. Coming up are “Private Life,” Tamara Jenkins’ acclaimed domestic drama; “22 July,” Paul Greengrass’ drama about the 2011 Norway terrorist attacks; and “Roma,” a Mexican family drama directed by Alfonso Cuaron, his first film since he won an Oscar for 2013’s “Gravity.”