Working on a score like Wyatt Earp was a rather daunting project. First, there’s the scope of the project to consider, and the complexity of the material. In this case, composer James Newton Howard had written and recorded music for two versions of the film. Some material was longer in the extended cut of the film, and some was shorter (oddly enough). There were also alternates to sift through, as well as some different mixes. All told, just figuring out how to present the score was turning into a challenging decision. Ultimately, I decided to present the score primarily as heard in the extended “Director’s Cut” of the film – that means music which wasn’t used in the theatrical cut was included in the main sequence, but also that some longer cues which were not used in the Director’s Cut were held over for the bonus section. This still resulted in a rather long score sequence, spanning two discs. That meant that the bonus cues would be placed on a third disc, making this my largest score release since Breakdown.
The artwork was not as much of a challenge as I thought it would be – I had been working on Into the West, and was already in a “western” mood, so I tried to carry over some of the rough dusty sepia colors that one associates with westerns into the design. I’ll even admit, I carried over the “torn edges” on the disc artwork which Warner Bros. Home Video had used on the DVD packaging for Wyatt Earp, for continuity. The project was finished in early 2013, and then…. nothing. We were told that we had to get artist approval from Kevin Costner, who was out of the country filming a movie. After a few months of checking in, suddenly we got his sign-off (as well as a very complementary statement regarding the artwork, which made me quite happy). After announcing the project (officially) at the Film Music Festival in Cordoba, Spain in June, we finally got the sign-off from Warner Bros., and the project was done! It’s easily one of James Newton Howard’s best scores, and if you haven’t picked this one up, I strongly recommend you do.