Paul Michael Glaser is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best movies, filled with wild action and terrific one-liners, but any Stephen King fan will tell you that it bares almost zero resemblance to its source material. The same character names pop up in both the film and the book, and they are both works of dystopian fiction, but they are otherwise two very different approaches to the central conceit.
One person who is very aware of these differences is writer/director Edgar Wright, and it’s apparently a big thing driving him in the creation of the remake he currently has in the works.
It was first announced all the way back in February 2021 that Wright is making a new adaptation of The Running Man, and he provided an update about the project as a recent guest on the Happy Sad Confused podcast. Acknowledging that the movie is in “active development,” he explained that his interest in the film is fueled by the fact that a faithful adaptation doesn’t currently exist. Said Wright,
The Running Man was first published in 1982, a few months after the release of Cujo, and it’s particularly significant in the Stephen King canon because it is one of the author’s books that he published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. The relatively short novel is set in the year 2025 and features a version of America that has become a totalitarian state. Protagonist Ben Richards is desperate to get money so that can get medicine to treat his daughter’s pneumonia, and this leads him to the Games Network: the government-affiliated television station that airs particularly brutal reality programming.
Richards is selected as the new contestant for the network’s most popular game, The Running Man, which essentially turns its subjects into wanted men who have to go out into the world and avoid detection for as long as possible. Citizens are encouraged and incentivized to become informants, and a group of agents known as Hunters are deployed to capture and kill him.
This is clearly a plot that is very different than what goes down in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, and it’s the story that Edgar Wright wants the chance to tell with his adaptation. He explained on the podcast that it was producer Simon Kinberg who approached him about the project, and while it hasn’t been an easy film to nail down, the material is clearly calling to him. Wright continued,
The fact that The Running Man isn’t easy to adapt as a movie is actually the reason why screenwriter Steven de Souza incorporated so many differences in the making of the 1987 film. Part of the problem was having Arnold Schwarzenegger playing Ben Richards (“I have a hard time believing Arnold Schwarzenegger is unemployed, even in a dystopian future!” he explained), but there are also archaic elements in the story (like Richards having to mail videos of himself to the Games Network to update audiences on his status). Certain elements will definitely have to change for the remake, likely including the approach to the very disturbing ending.
We aren’t presently aware of Edgar Wright carving out a potential production schedule for The Running Man, and the project doesn’t have a set release date, but it is at the very least nice to know that it’s a movie that is still in the works nearly three years after it was first announced. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for the latest updates about the project (I’m keeping fingers crossed it could end up on the 2025 calendar), and you can learn about all of the King adaptations presently in the works with our Upcoming Stephen King Movies and TV guide.