Is Edgar Wright about to bring a genuine interpretation of Stephen King’s The Running Man to the big screen?
Get your sneakers on because The Running Man is getting a reboot!
For those of us who are of a certain age (i.e we grew up in the1980s), we all remember the battle for box office domination between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. We were guaranteed at least one big-budget all-action blockbuster a year from the pair. Sometimes two as they both tried to outdo each other.
In 1987, Stallone gave the world a single offering, ‘Over The Top‘. Which was a PG-rated drama set in the world of arm wrestling where a truck driver (Stallone) would be competing for the world title. During the trip to the event and embedded in the film’s story, he had to reunite with his young son and bond with him. It was not Stallone’s finest hour and the box office returns proved as much. Fans didn’t want a family drama with a few fight scenes thrown in, they wanted all-out blood and guts alongside a huge side order of violence.
BOX OFFICE PREDATOR
Schwarzenegger gave the world two films, both set within the Science Fiction genre. The first is one of the best movies he has appeared in, ‘Predator‘. The film has gone on to become an all-time classic, one that is still being screened at theatres today. And a franchise that keeps evolving and producing a new movie every so often. The other film isn’t as well regarded but has gone on to become a cult classic.
‘The Running Man‘ was a movie set in a dystopian future. A future where the audience was told what to eat, drink and think. A world where any deviation from what was acceptable or where if anyone had thoughts that went against the system were punished with ‘Re-education’ or even death. The highest-rated show being shown on the network television system was ‘The Running Man‘. A show where the contestants were convicts, playing the rigged game show in an attempt to win their freedom.
The film is based on the book by Stephen King (written under his pseudonym of Richard Bachman). Although some of the events of the film did translate from the book, the film bore almost no resemblance to the novel. What is on the printed page is an unyielding and unrelenting view of a future. A completely bleak world and where, by the end, there is no happy ending for any of the main characters (spoiler alert). The film threw these threads away completely and gave us an Arnold Schwarzenegger star vehicle. One where he could let rip with the one-liners, show bouts of action and violence, and by the end, the main character stands tall. Gets the girl. And wins his freedom? Yes, it was an enjoyable romp but had nothing to do with the book that inspired it. It was ‘The Running Man‘ in name only.
Paramount Pictures has decided that the film requires a remake. In an unexpected turn of events, filmmaker Edgar Wright has been approached to helm this proposed new version. And in a great turn of events, the film will NOT be a remake of the Schwarzenegger vehicle. But will instead be a new version that will stick much more closely to the King novel. Wright is said to be writing the screenplay for this remake alongside Michael Bacall in an attempt to bring the TRUE version of the work to the screen.
For those who haven’t read the source novel. Or are unaware of exactly what King’s book was about, the novel is set in the dystopian United States during the year 2025, in which the nation’s economy is in ruins and world violence is rising. The story follows protagonist Ben Richards as he participates in the game show The Running Man. A game in which contestants are allowed to go anywhere in the world, and are chased by “Hunters” employed to kill them. The book runs to a total of 101 chapters, laid out in a “countdown” format. The first is titled “Minus 100 and Counting …” with the numbers decreasing, ending with the last chapter called “Minus 000 and Counting”. And it doesn’t end pretty.
Now, I’m up for a proper version of the book. But I can foresee a few things in the book being removed from the film version. Those who have read it will know what parts I’m speaking of. And the ending, even though it is a terrific finale to the book and its events COULD cause the writers some trouble. The book was written before a real-world tragic event. And that may cause the filmmakers to re-write what is a powerful, fitting, and final ending for many of the characters involved to not upset the audience.
As of yet, no casting has been announced. Nor is there a confirmed release date. However, I do hope the filmmakers stick closely to the narrative of the book and its characters and cast them properly. The main character of Ben Richards for example is not a muscled-up Austrian. He is a simple man doing what he must to provide for his family. Damon Killian, the main villain isn’t an aging gameshow host but is a slimy puppet of the system. If the film portrays the characters in the way they were written, then we as the audience could be in for a film that will keep us hooked from start to finish. Just keep it in the R-rated territory and don’t dumb it down to a PG-13 family movie. The audience and more importantly, the novel deserves better.
We will keep you updated on this exciting story.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!