Escape From New York

In April we learned that Breck Eisner, director of The Crazies, had signed on to direct the remake of Escape from New York, set up with producer Neal H. Moritz‘s Original Films. The report claimed that Eisner would be developing based on Allan Loeb‘s draft, which sounded horrible.

Earlier this year we learned a bit about the rewrite by the 21/Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps scribe, which is a Snake Plissken origin story combined with some of the plot of the 1981 original. Vulture said the script “nailed the humor in Plissken without slipping into camp, and he changed Snake’s rescue-mission target from a president to a female senator, thereby upping the banter quotient.” Sounds good right?

Well, they also found a much cheaper way to film the story, by changing destroyed Manhattan into a “geographically undesirable, but intact” privately run penal colony which was created “after the detonation of a crude radioactive dirty bomb on the outskirts of the city.” Sounds a horrible idea to me. Much of the appeal of the original film was seeing a post apocalyptic New York City.

Eisner explains his vision for the film to ComingSoon, claiming that the original film was a comment on the urban decay and the suburban flight coming out of the 1970s and early 1980s.

“Conceptually, it’s an idea that’s not true today because of the world we live in. So, how the prison is created is going to be different than in Carpenter’s version. The anxiety of the world and anxiety of our existence post-9/11 is there, especially the anxiety in Manhattan post-9/11. Plot-wise, they’re different, emotionally they’re very similar. That’s why it’ll be interesting to tackle this movie, to have a slightly different take but with the same results which is Manhattan is turned into a walled prison.”

Eisner says he’s hiring a writer this week to do “a significant pass” on Loeb’s script. And over at MovieWeb, Eisner talks about the possibility of re-teaming with Timothy Olyphan to play Snake Plissken.

Breck Eisner:  “I love working with Timothy Olyphant, and I will be working with him again. He is an amazing actor. A talented guy. And he’s incredibly funny. He needs to do a great comedy, because he is a funny guy. But I will work with him again. I can promise you that.”

Question: Can you talk at all about this idea? That he might very well be our next Snake Plissken?

Breck Eisner: Creatively, he would be great for it. We have not yet discussed internally within the studio who will play Snake Plissken. There are many factors that go into those discussions. First and foremost, obviously, is the creative one. We can’t make the movie unless we get the perfect Snake Plissken, and that’s a tall order. There are very few guys that could do it. He would definitely be one of the guys who could. There is no question about that.

Read the whole interview on movieweb. I personally don’t think Olyphant comes off as tough enough to play Plissken, even in a prequel/origin story.

A couple years back, New Line Cinema was trying to remake John Carpenter’s 1981 sci-fi actioner Escape from New York. They first hired Live Free or Die Hard helmer Len Wiseman, who got replaced with Brett Ratner. I wasn’t excited about either of the two filmmakers rebooting Snake Plissken, although Wiseman’s production design background made him the better choice of the two. This is a time right after 300 made huge bank at the box office, resulting in the casting of Gerard Butler as the new Plissken.

I know that many of you have a gag reflex when it comes to sequels and reboots, but sometimes I’m willing to give them a chance. Escape From New York is an awesome film, but I’ve revisited it recently, and the special effects don’t hold up at all. The concept begs for a remake, and the new computer effects technology could create a future dystopian New York like we’ve never seen before.

And that is where New Line has lost me. What is the point of creating this world if Manhattan is still standing? I haven’t been impressed with Loeb’s screenplays thus far, and so many writers have done drafts on this project that it is hard to imagine it won’t be a mess (as they say, too many cooks ruin the soup).

Eisner has proven himself to be a resourceful director with a good eye for cinematics. His remake of The Crazies was produced for an estimated $12 million and looks like a $30 or $40 million movie.

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