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SYFY WIRE Edgar Wright

Stephen King’s ‘The Running Man’ racing back to theaters with Edgar Wright directing

By Benjamin Bullard
Edgar Wright

Following in the iconic big-screen footsteps of Arnold Schwarzenegger is always a tough challenge. But perhaps it’s only natural that the creative movie mind behind Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim would team up with an X-Men mastermind and dare to step up to the starting line.

Writer and director Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Baby Driver) has reportedly signed on to direct a new film adaptation of The Running Man, Stephen King’s 1982 dystopian story about a 21st-Century America that embraces criminal justice as a spectator sport. Sci-fi producing maestro Simon Kinberg (the X-Men films, Deadpool) will co-produce the new movie, via Deadline.

King originally wrote The Running Man under his Richard Bachman pseudonym. The story ended up getting a loose film adaptation in 1987 that starred Schwarzenegger in the lead role, with the late Family Feud game show host Richard Dawson serving as the cynical emcee over the run-for-your-life proceedings.

The new treatment reportedly won’t follow the remake path previously trod by Schwarzenegger’s earlier film. Instead, it’ll be a ground-up adaptation of King’s original story; one that will aim for a more faithful retelling of its sinister events. Kinberg reportedly has wanted to make the film for a long time: “the prospect of a new The Running Man is one that has intrigued him; to the point that when asked if he could remake any film, he would choose that one,” notes Deadline. “This was back in 2017. Now it has become real.”

For anyone who needs a quick refresher, King’s 1982 novel served up a prescient fictional precursor to present-day anxieties; dystopian fears that also have been similarly expressed in later book-to-screen stories like The Hunger Games. Framed in a totalitarian 2025 America with a government in lockstep with a pliable entertainment press, protagonist and convicted criminal Ben Richards (played by Schwarzenegger in the earlier film) must compete in a sensational televised game show as he tries to outrun the government-dispatched “hunters” who’re on a mission to kill him.

Directed by Paul Michael Glaser, the 1980s movie went on to a moderate $38 million box office haul, earning something of a second life with a cult following as it found a home video fandom in the decades following its release. The Wright-directed new version doesn’t yet have a cast or a release date.