It’s a very good week to be Leigh Whannell. The Upgrade writer and director (and half of the brain trust behind Saw and Insidious) locked a deal to helm a revival of The Invisible Man for Blumhouse and Universal earlier this week, and now according to The Hollywood Reporter he will take another high-profile writing and directing gig for Escape From New York. The John Carpenter classic starred Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, a special forces operative turned criminal who is brought in to rescue the American president after he’s taken hostage and held in the penal colony of Manhattan. (As in, the entire island is a maximum security prison.) Robert Rodriguez was previously rumored to be in the running for the director’s chair, but with Whannell in THR reports that he working on “a new vision for the project” that differs from Rodriguez’s take and aims to avoid “the bloated tentpole remake path that afflicted the reboots of other 1980s-era movies such as Robocop and Total Recall.”
As for Invisible Man, Universal is opening up its classic monster movies so they don’t have to be part of the same shared mythology — the short-lived “Dark Universe,” if you recall — thanks to the bummer that was The Mummy. Dark Universe Invisible Man was meant to be Johnny Depp, but now Whannell and Jason Blum are producing it as a stand-alone film that doesn’t have to include Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and so on. So it’s likely that Depp is out of the conversation, and Whannell is free to bring some of that rogue Upgrade spirit to this iconic horror tale.