Although we’re still waiting on Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho, delayed by the general pandemic-ness of it all, to finally arrive in theaters, the The Sparks Brothers director has just added a new movie to his ever-packed slate of future projects: A new adaptation of Stephen King’s grim game show satire The Running Man.
The Running Man has, of course, already been adapted to the screen before. In 1987, Paul Michael Glaser re-imagined the book’s scrawny everyman scrapper Ben Richards as Arnold Schwarzenegger at his kill-and-quippiest, and transformed the premise of the original—released under King’s Richard Bachman pseudonym, where all his darkest impulses in the 1980s tended to find purchase—from a nationwide manhunt into a series of gladiator matches stocked with cut-rate supervillains played by a variety of pro wrestlers, former footballers, and one genuine opera singer. Per Deadline, Wright’s new script, which is set to be co-written with his Scott Pilgrim collaborator Michael Bacall, will hew far closer to King’s book, a gritty look at a dystopian world in which healthcare is auctioned off via gameshows and life is exceedingly cheap—even if you’re being paid $100 for every hour you can evade authorities who’ve been authorized to shoot their contestants/prey on sight.
And, we’ll be honest: There are two major questions raised for us by this project, which Wright is reportedly making a deal with Paramount right now to develop and then direct. The first being, how the hell is the writer-director going to manage the book’s original ending, as bleak and destructive a climax as King has ever penned? And the second is the issue of how Wright expects to get his film out from under the shadow of Glaser’s one bona fide genius touch in the Schwarzenegger movie: Casting Family Feud host Richard Dawson to viciously deconstruct his own endlessly smiling, barely-restrained-rage image as game show impresario Damon Killian. And, look: No one’s saying Edgar Wright has to cast Dawson’s Family Feud grand-successor, Steve Harvey, in a similar role. But also: Once you have started thinking about this idea, you will not be able to stop thinking about it. This is your blessing now, and your curse.