For every ten unnecessary remakes that make it to the big screen it’s worth remembering that once in a while we dodge a bullet. The most recent example being the big budget reboot of John Carpenter’s Escape From New York.
Carpenter’s admittedly goofy but entertaining as hell classic from 1981 has been on track for a remake for some time now. Every few months names of newly rumored directors and stars would hit the blogosphere including Brett Ratner, Len Wiseman, Gerard Butler, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hardy, and Breck Eisner. Of those only the last was really appealing in the slightest as Eisner turned in a fine horror flick with his remake of The Crazies, but this was never an endeavor to getting excited over.
The original film is set in the far away future of 1997 where the island of Manhattan has been turned into a walled prison (still a great idea) that no one ever exits. Air Force One crashes inside and Snake Plissken, an ex-soldier turned convicted bank robber, is given a single shot at freedom… get in, find and rescue the US President, and get him out alive. There’s a lively supporting cast including Donald Pleasance, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Van Cleef, and Adrienne Barbeau, but the real stars of the film are Carpenter and Kurt Russell. It’s a fantastically fun ride that mixes action, cynical humor, and social/political commentary into an entertaining B-movie.
Per Deadline New Amsterdam, New Line and Warner Bros. have let their option on the remake rights expire.
A remake would most likely have lost everything that Carpenter’s original got right including the charm inherent in many of his earlier films. Watch his original Halloween and The Fog then sit through their tedious and unfortunate remakes for examples of how much difference a filmmaker with personality can make. (Please note, don’t actually watch The Fog remake.) And if you think I’m just picking on other filmmakers I could just as easily cite Carpenter’s own sequel, Escape From L.A., which also managed to screw up everything that worked in the original. It’s an absolutely terrible goddamn movie.
Of course, WB and New Line losing the remake rights doesn’t necessarily mean it will never happen. If they had even the slightest desire to continue on with the project they would have retained the rights as it’s cheaper than having to option it all over again, but some other studio may yet pick it up down the road in the hopes of casting Justin Bieber in his first adult role…