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SYFY WIRE Escape from New York

Escape From New York remake in the works at Fox from Upgrade creator Leigh Whannell

By Matthew Jackson
Snake Plissken Escape From New York

The Escape From New York remake has risen again, with a high-powered new screenwriter. Leigh Whannell, the writer behind the hit horror franchise Insidious and 2018's acclaimed cyberpunk horror flick Upgrade, will script a new version of John Carpenter's 1980 classic Escape From New York, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The news comes just days after Whannell signed on to write and direct a remake of Universal's The Invisible Man, handing him a second major genre franchise in the wake of Upgrade's success.

At the moment, Whannell's deal is only for scripting duties on the project, though THR's report makes it clear that he could also eventually take on directing duties as well. Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman will produce, while Carpenter himself will serve as an executive producer.

Set in a post-apocalyptic version of 1988 in which crime rates in America have risen sky-high and the island of Manhattan has been repurposed as a walled prison, Escape From New York follows Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), a Special Forces operative turned convict who is tasked with venturing into Manhattan to rescue the president of the United States (Donald Pleasence), whose escape pod landed on the island after an attempted hijacking of Air Force One. Facing a ticking clock and a whole island of criminals, Snake must explore this fallen version of New York and find the president, in exchange for a full pardon and freedom.

The film was a critical and commercial success upon release and is still considered among Carpenter's best. A sequel, Escape From L.A., was released in 1996, and a remake has been in the works for more than a decade.

Remake efforts have bounced around between studios, directors, writers, and potential stars, with everyone from Robert Rodriguez to Gerard Bulter to Jeremy Renner either attached or rumored to be attached at various points. The project has migrated from New Line to Warner Bros. to its current home at Fox, and at various points has been a straight remake, a prequel, and a prequel trilogy.

Whannell's version, according to THR's sources, "will retain elements of the original but bring new ideas to the table" as Whannell tries to avoid the pitfalls of reboots of other '80s classics like RoboCop.

So, Escape From New York is back with a new writer in the driver's seat. What do you think of the studio's choice?