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Hollywood has been mad about remakes for years. Any time a well-known property goes more than decade without being revisited, it becomes open season for whatever company owns the rights to get in there and redo the whole thing. The same can be said for the prequel and reboot craze the business has been going through the past fifteen years or so. Well, Hollywood is at it again. This time another popular sci-fi film from several decades ago is getting the remake treatment.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, 20th Century Fox, the same studio that re-launched Planet of the Apes, is finalizing plans to remake Escape from New York. Neil Cross, the man behind the dire intensity of the BBC series Luther, is now tapped to write the screenplay.
An Escape from New York remake has been drifting through the winds of filmdom for about eight years now. No doubt, Fox's success with the current Apes series has the studio thinking it can aim for similar success with this franchise. The new filmmakers likely are hoping to jump start a brand new series of films, probably a trilogy, since absolutely no one in Hollywood is making non-sequel bait big budget blockbusters these days.
Neil Cross has mostly stuck with television work. Along with Luther, which is his crowning achievement so far, he also created and wrote last year’s Crossbones with John Malkovich. His forays into film have so for been limited to some work on Pacific Rim and the 2013 horror fest Mama with Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
The original Escape from New York, co-written and directed by John Carpenter, was released in 1981 and became an instant hit and science-fiction classic. In the film, it’s 1997 (the future) and the island of New York has been turned into one giant, walled, maximum security prison that’s home to more than three million convicted criminals. Kurt Russell starred as Snake Plissken, a master criminal who’s recruited to save the President of the United States from the (truly mean) streets of New York City after Air Force Once crash lands in the dangerous territory. Snake has to battle mobs of violent prisoners, the criminally insane and The Duke, who’s holding the president captive in the hopes of getting every criminal in New York released.
If this doesn’t sound like one of the most badass movies of all time, I just don’t know what does. I completely understand the desire to bring a classic like this into the modern day. But that doesn’t mean it should be done. The list of sequels, prequels and reboots that have nearly destroyed the legacy of the original film or films they were based on is pretty long (Star Wars prequels, anyone?). And, there’s just no guarantee that, even with having a strong writer on board, the filmmakers won’t somehow screw this up. Snake Plissken should get his guns ready, he might be the only one who can save this remake.