Leigh Whannell has booked his second big studio project in less than a week.
Just days after closing a deal to write and direct The Invisible Man for Universal, the Australian-born filmmaker is taking on another studio franchise, Fox’s Escape from New York.
Whannell will write the script for the remake of the John Carpenter 1980s classic. Sources say that while there is no deal for him to direct, the door is open for that possibility.
Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman are producing. Carpenter is executive producing.
The original 1981 movie was set in a future (then 1997) where Manhattan had been turned into an island-sized maximum-security prison. When the president of the United States crashes into the decaying city, an outlaw is coerced into traveling inside to rescue him.
Neil Cross, the creator of the BBC crime series Luther, wrote the most recent iteration of the project that Robert Rodriguez was attached to direct.
Whannell, however, is kickstarting Escape with a new vision for the project that sources say will retain elements of the original but bring new ideas to the table. One of Whannell’s goals is to avoid the bloated tentpole remake path that afflicted the reboots of other 1980s-era movies such as Robocop and Total Recall.
Whannell made his debut by writing and co-creating the Saw franchise with pal James Wan. He also teamed with Wan to launch a second horror franchise, Insidious. Whannell made his directorial debut with Insidious: Chapter 3. Last year, he wrote and directed the dark sci-fi thriller Upgrade, which starred Logan Marshall-Green. That movie, while not a hit, showcased his chops enough to trampoline him into the studio franchise world.
Whannell is repped by Paradigm, Stacey Testro International and David Fox of Myman Greenspan.