New Line cuffs 'Escape' redo


New Line Cinema has gotten the keys to the new "Escape From New York."

The remake of the cult John Carpenter movie, being produced by Neal Moritz with Gerard Butler attached to star as Snake Plissken, hit the town this week and had several studios trying to capture it. Bidding was aggressive because Butler was coming off the whopping $70 million opening for "300."

New Line had been positioning itself for warden status when it first sniffed out that the package was in the works two weeks ago.

Ken Nolan ("Black Hawk Down") will write the script, which will combine an origin story for Plissken merged with the story of the 1981 movie. The original film was set in a futuristic 1997, when Manhattan had been turned into a giant maximum-security prison. The U.S. president's plane crashed on the island, and Plissken, incarcerated for robbing a federal reserve bank, was coerced into a rescue mission.

The movie made a lasting impression on a generation of males and was followed by a sequel 16 years later, "Escape From L.A.," as well as a comic book miniseries in 2003.

Moritz and his Original Film became involved when he was working with "Escape" co-rights holder StudioCanal on another project. StudioCanal will control the European territories.

" 'Escape From New York' is iconic," StudioCanal vice chairman Frederic Sichler said. "It's a privilege to be a partner in this rebirth of Snake Plissken with John Carpenter, Neal Moritz and New Line. And to have Gerard Butler to revisit Snake is fantastic."

Said co-rights holder Carpenter, who will serve as an executive producer: "Snake is one of my fondest creations. Kurt Russell did an incredible job, and it would be fun to see someone else try."

Carpenter remains surprised that his movie holds a place in the minds of moviegoers, as does the Plissken character. "I just thought it was a futuristic action movie when I did it the first time. It was a script that I used to fulfill a contract. And Kurt was primarily known as a child actor, and I thought it might be interesting to see him in a role like that. ... There's something fun about (Plissken). I think Kurt borrowed the eye patch from Kirk Douglas in 'The Vikings' -- that's my suspicion."

Sichler and Ron Halpern, senior vp international production and remake development at Canal Plus, will be executive producers as will Original production executive Ori Marmur.

Original is in preproduction on Screen Gems' horror remake "Prom Night" and the Sony Pictures romantic comedy "Made of Honor."

Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener and Keith Goldberg are overseeing for New Line.

Butler and Nolan are repped by CAA.