Rumors and plans for an Escape From New York reboot have been circling for years, but today it seems like the first steps of a more motivated production are being taken. After the planned remake of John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (1981) went through numerous directors and scriptwriters since news of the remake from New Line first broke, the rights have since lapsed, meaning all bets were off.
Today Joel Silver’s Silver Pictures has announced they’ll be teaming up with Studio Canal to make the second trip to an incarcerated Manhattan a reality, but taking a very different direction than a simple retread.
With a post-apocalyptic future setting, a grizzled, eye-patched leading man, and plenty of gunfights and brawls, it was never hard to see how a rebooted Escape From New York would fit with current sci-fi movies. But according to Deadline, Silver plans to build a trilogy of films around the property, beginning with a prequel presumably telling the story that led to the original film. The strategy worked for Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), and the studio seems to be following that film’s lead-in – giving Carpenter’s a similar second wind.
The idea of focusing more on a prequel than a remake isn’t a total shock, since reports of the previous Allan Loeb-modified script were less ‘disaster movie,’ and more “an exposé of an ecosystem.” In other words, a more modern look at what would actually happen if the island of Manhattan was walled off, and populated with America’s worst criminals. Granted, that might not be what fans of the original hope for, but it’s at least something original.
The question fans will now ask is: will a prequel follow the star of the original, Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) before he fell from war hero to criminal, or save his re-casting for the retelling of Escape‘s plot (assuming that’s planned in a future film)? It would be an odd choice to attempt a reboot of an iconic B-movie classic without its most famous character, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that much of this trilogy’s success could rest on its leading man.
So far the likes of Gerard Butler (who bowed out citing ‘creative differences‘), Jeremy Renner (whose reps claim was never offered the part), Timothy Olyphant and even Tom Hardy (busy walking in the boots of another cult icon, Mad Max) were all in contention for the role of Plissken. While they may be established names garnering attention at the moment, more than just skills or star power will have to be weighed before casting.
Given how much trouble the production has seen so far, and the ongoing question as to why a film defined by its distrust of Nixon’s presidency and leading man needs to be remade without either, the new star will be taking a bit of a risk. Add the fact that Kurt Russell thinks the role should be played by an American, and the most devoted fans of the original may be turned off.
Whatever Silver and Studio Canal have planned, Breck Eisner – the last director attached to the reboot – maintains that a modern Escape From New York could say something important. A prequel is certainly more interesting at this point than a straightforward remake, but for now, we’ll wait until we hear a more detailed plan than what Silver Pictures ‘hopes’ to achieve.
What is your initial reaction to hearing about a trilogy of films set in Carpenter’s post-WWIII America? Are you more intrigued by a chance to tell a new story, or do you still maintain that Escape From New York is one movie that shouldn’t be remade? Sound off in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.