Even in an age where horror remakes seem to arrive every other week, the work of John Carpenter seems to be particularly picked over. Small wonder, though. Carpenter was a writer before he was a director, and he had a knack for creating films based around smart, easy to understand hooks. And of all of his films, one of the best loglines was for “Escape From New York.” Talk about easy. New York is a prison now, and the President’s plane crashes on it. One man is sent in to find the President and rescue him, and if he fails, he will die.
It would be accurate to say that the film has been unofficially remade any number of times now, including last year’s “Space Jail” with Guy Pearce, or whatever the heck it was called. Neil Marshall’s “Doomsday” went so far in its homage as to even use Carpenter’s signature font for the film’s credits.
There have been several attempts to remake “Escape From New York” in recent years. Ken Nolan, one of the “Black Hawk Down” writers, wrote a fairly faithful version of the movie that almost happened in 2007 with Gerard Butler attached to play Snake Plissken. What Nolan’s script tried to do was flesh out the world around New York, while also delving slightly into the back story for Plissken that was suggested with a few key lines in Carpenter’s script.
Today’s news, according to Deadline, is that Joel Silver and Studio Canal Plus are teaming up to try and build a trilogy out of the basic material. Carpenter followed up his own film with “Escape From LA,” a project that worked pretty well on the page but which ran up against severe budget cuts during production that forced Carpenter to hobble the film he was trying to make. He’s repeatedly mentioned over the years that he would be happy to make “Escape From Earth” with Kurt Russell once again if the opportunity arose, but I am starting to accept that I may never see another collaboration between those two.
I have a feeling the trilogy that Silver is developing has little to do with the way things unfolded in Carpenter’s take on things. Instead, it sounds like they want the first film to deal with the events that were only suggested in dialogue in the original “EFNY.” I have a feeling we’re going to get a whole movie of how Snake Plissken earned his contempt for authority. I love how people almost inevitably react with “I heard you were dead” when they meet Snake in the movie, and we may now end up with a full film of him still in the Special Forces during World War III, and we might see the “Leningrad Ruse” that led to him losing an eye. Either that or we’ll start just after all of that so we can see Snake working with “Brain” and Fresno Bob, raising hell and paying the government back for what they did to Snake’s family. If the first film ends with Snake getting caught as he tries to break into the US Federal Reserve in Denver, then that would queue the filmmakers up to make “Escape From New York” as a sequel.
This raises the question about what they’ll even call this new movie. If they do back up to tell us about Snake’s origins, then the title “Escape From New York” doesn’t work anymore, and I’m not convinced enough of the public knows who Snake Plissken is to justify using a title that’s based on his name.
Whatever they end up doing, it seems like this has been inevitable for a while now, and I’m curious to see if they get this one onto the screen when so many other attempts have failed completely.