Tom DeMichael on “Escape from New York” Remake
Imagine the parents of a young girl when they’re introduced to her new beau.
“Mom…Dad – This is Snake, and we’re engaged!”
The Snake in our case is, of course, Snake Plissken. He’s the ex-soldier, turned bad guy (then turned good guy) in John Carpenter’s 1981 sci-fi action flick, Escape from New York. Set in 1997, World War III has left America in shambles (the long-recurring dystopian future sci-fi setting) and the Manhattan Island in New York has become a maximum security prison (in other words, the Big Apple has a lot of worms in it.) The US government recruits a reluctant Snake to save the President, who has become a hostage of the inmates. He accomplishes the task, but the whole affair leaves Snake in a more cynical state than when he started.
Escape from New York offered a pretty enjoyable cast, with ex-Disney star Kurt Russell as the eye-patched Snake. Other performers included Donald Pleasance, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, and Adrienne Barbeau. It did well at the box office in 1981, grossing more than 25-million dollars and prompting a sequel fifteen years later. Escape from LA brought back Snake, with a new cast of supporting characters. Budgeted at 50-million dollars, the sequel bombed by grossing only half that amount.
Now, in the opening weeks of 2015, 20th Century Fox has secured the rights for a remake once more. But this isn’t the first rodeo for a remake of Escape. Since 2007, remaking the film has been a recurring topic, first with Gerard Butler slated to play Snake, then Jeremy Renner mentioned. But many movie projects can languish in “development hell” for years, so there’s no guarantee that Snake will be escaping any city very soon.
Understand that movies are remade – not to improve on the original (which hardly ever happens anyway) – but to introduce a “new” product to a new audience. Even with the multitude of alternative sources for films (video-on-demand, DVD/Blu-Ray, digital download, Hulu, etc.,) folks younger than forty or so were barely in kindergarten when Snake first attempted to Escape from New York.
So, with Fox obtaining the rights for a remake, they’re hardly concerned about how fans of the original will react – heck, they’re in search of new fans, from a different generation. And, as long as there’s another sci-fi film to keep us engaged and entertained for a couple of hours, that’s all that really matters anyway.