It is apparently still time to start running! A while ago it was reported that Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Baby Driver) was to film a remake of The Running Man. Then there was radio silence. Now an update has been made, and it is positive news. The project will aim to begin filming next year.
Speaking with /Film, producer Simon Kinberg provided that update:
“[Wright is] one of my favorite directors of all time and one of my favorite people, just a super great guy. Obviously a cinephile. We are working on it actively. He’s actively working on the script with Michael Bacall. And our hope would be that it is a movie that, again, all fingers crossed and luck and everything else go our way, that Edgar could maybe direct next year.
Well, what’s cool is that Edgar, completely separately, before myself and Paramount started down the journey of figuring out how to get the remake rights, which was complicated, he had tweeted, just on his own — and I follow him obviously on every possible platform — he had tweeted that if there was one movie he would remake ever, it was Running Man.”
Why is Wright so passionate about getting this project made? After all, the original Schwarzenegger vehicle was entertaining enough but is hardly one of his best movies.
The Running Man was directed by Starsky And Hutch star Paul Michael Glaser, in 1987. Arnold Schwarzenegger played the role of Ben Richards, while Richard Dawson, María Conchita Alonso, Jesse Ventura, and Yaphet Kotto also starred.
The reason, it seems, lies with the source material. As any self-respecting Outposter knows, the original material is a novel written by Stephen King under the pen name of Richard Bachman in 1982. It is very, very different from the 1987 movie. Gone are the 1980s game-show trappings and hunters based on wrestlers, tracking their prey through a contained game zone.
Instead, the novel spends more time focussing on the societal collapse ushered in by the upheaval of the world economy. Set in 2025, any contestant on the show is a desperate volunteer, willing to pay the ultimate price for simple cash.
The contestant is declared an enemy of the state and released with a 12-hour head start before the Hunters are sent after them. In the novel, the Hunters are an elite team of Network-employed hitmen with backgrounds in Federal enforcement and intelligence special activities.
The game is played out among the public, anywhere in the entire world. The contestant earns $100 per hour that they stay alive and avoid capture, with an additional $100 for each law enforcement officer or Hunter he kills, and a grand prize of $1 billion if he survives for 30 days.
Members of the public receive cash rewards for informing the Network of the runner’s whereabouts. The runner is given $4,800 and a pocket video camera before they leave the studio. Each day they must videotape two messages and mail them back to the studio for broadcasting. Failure to do so means default of the Games contract and a halt to the accumulating prize money, but they will continue to be hunted indefinitely.
The story still features the character of Killian as the producer, and Ben Richards as the runner. In this version, a desperate Richards enters the game to earn money to pay for medicine for his sick daughter. Killian states that no contestant has survived long enough to claim the grand prize, nor does he expect anyone to ever do so.
The much darker story features more about the society and potential for rebellion by the underclass. The ending remains gut-wrenching.
The Running Man reboot script is being written by Michael Bacall.
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