Before Len Wiseman came aboard, the worst thing the Escape from New York remake had going for it was a generic action script. Now, it just got the cinematic equivalent of herpes.
This began as a rumor at AICN, and has now been confirmed by IESB: Wiseman is off Escape from New York, and Brett Ratner is on that shit like a heart-shaped bed full of brain-dead snatch. Let that rattle around in your cranium for a while before you decide whether you’re relieved or still pissed in a "Thank god that douchebag didn’t sleep with my girlfriend, but that sack of shit!?!?" kind of way.
The trick, my friends, is to not care at all. I know lots of reasonable folks who like the Ken Nolan draft that got the film greenlit (even though it was bouncing around the agencies and management companies as an "open writing assignment" right around the time they got Wiseman attached), and they’ve got a point: it could be worse. That’s how I felt when I read Ted Tally’s draft of Red Dragon back in ’02; it was a perfectly serviceable version of a story that had already been told magnificently (if idiosyncratically) by a master filmmaker*.
The upshot is that no one talks about Red Dragon anymore (i.e. unless they’re running through Ratner’s ho-hum-at-best oeuvre), so there’s no reason to get worked up over whatever it is he’s going to do to Escape from New York. It’s early days for this one; as Sanchez points out, there’s no telling if he’ll demand a major rewrite (doubtful, as this project needs to get rolling soon), tailor the production design more to his liking ("I want a post-apocalyptic Metropolis, but sexy and with a bunch of ambient light emanating from the sewers – and make the sewers sexy, too!"), or hire Dean Cundey to shoot it.
The only thing I’m dreading is Ratner opening his yap. "I love John Carpenter! I’ve seen all of his movies and think he’s a genius! I also love the films of Howard Hawks and John Ford and Sergio Leone. They’re the geniuses who inspired the genius of John Carpenter, and I’m going to let their genius pass through my genius – and I am a genius because Roman Polanski said so ‘cuz I got him, like, really laid** – when I make this movie. It’s going to be bigger than Carpenter’s movie. He didn’t have a tenth of the budget I’m going to be working with. He also didn’t have the terrific Gerry Butler, who is going to be the biggest star in the world. He is like Kurt Russell but sexy. I am also going to drop the ‘I thought you were dead’ running gag out of respect for John Carpenter, and replace it with ‘I thought you were black.’"
As for poor Len Wiseman, he’s also off of Gears of War, which (according to Sanchez… again) has been deaded due to a skyrocketing budget. While I’d like to say it’s back to werewolves and vampires for ol’ Lenny, that Live Free or Die Hard did make a little bit of cash for Fox; I’m sure they’d be glad to give him more work (just not on Wolverine, from which he’s already been fired once). Not true. Wiseman is still on Gears of War.
EDIT 6:29 PM PST: Len Wiseman is, as of now, still on Gears of War. In fact, he’ll be meeting with screenwriter Stuart Beattie tomorrow. So there.
*For the record, a remake of Red Dragon that hewed more closely to Thomas Harris’s novel didn’t have to be a total, unimaginative mediocrity. It’s a great piece of material.
**"And if you’ve never been ‘really laid‘, you don’t know what you’re missing. And I know these are Jeremy’s footnotes, but fuck him. He’s just a bitter wannabe writer-director who doesn’t have the guts to lay it on the line. I lay it on the line every morning I get out of bed. Just this morning, I called up Bob Shaye and screamed at him for ninety minutes about the Japanese marketing for Rush Hour 3, and he took it like the soon-to-be-forced-out-of-the-company-he-founded bitch that he is. Oh, he got me so riled up! I’m almost of a mind to drive over to his house and shit in his Koi pond. Which reminds me that I was talking to Helmut Newton about Koi ponds back in 2000, and he said…"