Lionsgate/Summit has the tag team of action legends Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone headlining a new prison escape thriller, which had originally been dubbed The Tomb and set for a theatrical release near the end of September this year, but is now arriving two weeks earlier under the title Escape Plan.
This long-awaited "event" pairing old-and-creaky muscleheads together comes not long after the actors' most recent solo vehicles The Last Stand ($12 million U.S. gross) and Bullet to the Head ($9.5 million) failed to pull in the same crowd that flocked to fellow old dog Bruce Willis' A Good Day to Die Hard ($66.8 million), despite Schwarzenegger and Stallone's movies earning much better reviews - and proving to be genuine testosterone-fueled action movie throwbacks.
Escape Plan is now scheduled to arrive in U.S. theaters on September 13th, where it will compete with Machete Kills for the attention of moviegoers in the mood for some lunkheaded entertainment. The September release date suggests that studio executives don't expect Arnold and Sly's onscreen (mis)adventure to match the success of The Expendables franchise, but with the right marketing angle there's no reason a solid turnout has to be written off as impossible (seeing how it does feature two Hollywood icons).
In fact, when Last Stand and Bullet to the Head's weak box office was broken down on the Screen Rant Underground Podcast, our editors agreed that the weak trailers featuring cheese dialogue - chunks of which didn't even make the final cut - and focusing on Schwarzenegger and Stallone being "old," didn't help to win over the doubtful opposition (or a younger generation that didn't grow up watching those guys slaughter bad guys and shout catchy one-liners onscreen).
Both titles, in my humble opinion, are solid callbacks to old-school action that were put together with greater skill and appreciation for movie history (and changes in the pop culture landscape over the previous decade) than recent blockbusters such as the fifth Die Hard flick or G.I. Joe: Retaliation; not to mention, the popularity of Olympus Has Fallen demonstrates there is, in fact, demand for entertainment that harkens to the bygone era of 1990s machismo fare.
Early descriptions of the script by Miles Chapman (Road House 2: Last Call, Cybergeddon) and Jason Keller (Machine Gun Preacher, Mirror Mirror) indicate that Escape Plan could be another quality offering from Arnold and Sly. However, with the original title of The Tomb being exchanged for a cheesier alternative (seriously, it sounds more appropriate for a comedy), one has to worry about the possibility that misguided marketing will rear its ugly head again...
We shall find out what happens when Escape Plan opens on September 13th, 2013.