When Arnold Schwarzenegger teamed up with Starsky himself, Paul Michael Glaser, in 1987 to make The Running Man, it was so different from the source material that it took many people years to make the connection between the movie and Stephen King.
The movie was not well regarded at the time, and was never classed as among Arnie’s strongest outings. Nevertheless it has gained a cult following over time, is eminently quotable and remains great fun.
The original story was a novella published by King under the pen-name Richard Bachman.
The story presented in the book varies significantly. In this version it is still a dystopian future but contestants for The Running Man show volunteer themselves. They are awarded cash prizes for every hour they stay alive and run in the “real” world, able to go anywhere.
They are tracked by the Hunters, but these are ex-cops, ex-soldiers and ex-FBI agent types. Contestants must mail in one video package every day as millions tune in. Ben Richards volunteers to raise money for his sick daughter’s medical treatment and proves an unexpectedly tough adversary that causes issues for the producers of the show. It culminates in a conclusion that would be classed as “problematic” in today’s world.
The movie changed everything up to make the contestants press ganged convicts. They are forced to take part in a violent blend of WWE combined with American Gladiators as theatrical Hunters, styled after wrestlers, pursue the runners through a game zone left over from an earthquake. The whole thing is presented as a gaudy 1980’s American gameshow.
Now Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Hot Fuzz, Shaun Of The Dead) is set to try his hand at a new adaption of the story. 34 years after the original, will the new version be closer to the movie, or the book?
Wright has been a vocal fan of both the book and the movie for years and has previously voiced a desire to create a new version. He has previously said it wouldn’t be a remake of the 1987 film if he ever got to do it.
Now it looks as if this may be his next movie after the much delayed Last Night in Soho arrives. The script will be co-written by Wright and Michael Bacall, who previously worked with Wright on his 2010 adaptation of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.