New Line Cinema is quickly moving forward with plans to remake John Carpenter’s 1981 dystopian action classic Escape From New York, thanks to a rewrite from Allan Loeb, the man who rescued the Wall Street sequel from development limbo over at Fox. A big reason for the fast track was creative: Loeb 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. But just as big a factor was economic: They found a much cheaper way to turn Manhattan into a giant prison.
In the original, set at the end of World War III, New York City was a husk of itself after being turned into a giant prison, but that kind of destruction gets pricey.* So in Escape 2.0, the Big Apple that the as-yet-uncast Snake Plissken is dropped into will be geographically undesirable, but intact: This Manhattan was evacuated and turned into a privately run penal colony after the detonation of a crude radioactive dirty bomb on the outskirts of the city. “It is not a disaster movie,” says a source close to the project. “It is an exposé of an ecosystem, if you put a huge wall around Manhattan and then dropped in the most fucked-up, dangerous criminals on Earth.” This means New York will still be recognizable to audiences, à la I Am Legend, rather than an entirely new Armageddon Island. (Previous scribe David Kajganich, who wrote The Invasion, is credited with this solution.)
Much like in the original movie, the authorities have set up shop in the Statue of Liberty (though this time it's not the police, it's a private, KBR-like security company)*, and now new prisoners are being processed through Ellis Island. And more importantly, good ol' Snake remains largely the same. Legally, he has to be. We learned that in order to land the rights, New Line had to sign a contract with John Carpenter stipulating, among other things, that Plissken "must be called 'Snake'"; "must wear an eye patch"; and that he would — and we're not making this up — "always be a 'bad-ass.'"; So, if you ever catch the new Snake watching Grey’s Anatomy or complaining that the senator isn't "emotionally available," just know that somewhere, some poor development exec is about to be carted off to jail.
*These parts have been updated since posting.