Joe Penhall has been hired to adapt the John Williams’ 1960 Western novel Butcher’s Crossing, which Sam Mendes might direct. It is one of those rare revisionist western and harsh relentless yet muted in tone. Butcher’s Crossing paved the way for Cormac McCarthy. Penhall is notable for writing the screenplay adaptations for Cormac McCarthy’s most recent work.

Butcher’s Crossing tells the story of Will Andrews, a disenchanted Harward undergraduate in the 1870s who journey’s west to the titular Kansas town. There, a liberated Andrews joins a new friend and goes on an ambitious hunt for buffalo. The consequences of their actions are unforeseen and dire.

Penhall is working on the Fox adaptation of Deep Water and an adaptation of his own play, Landscape with Weapons, to be directed by John Hillcoat.