Edgar Wright’s Literal Adaptation of Stephen King’s The Running Man

It’s rare for a remake of a movie to proclaim its desire to be truer to its source novel, but Edgar Wright’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Running Man is aiming to be more faithful to the book than the 1987 film. It’s an exciting development for dystopian fans, who should be able to appreciate King’s original vision in all its grim detail.

From Page to STUDIO: Edgar Wright's Visionary Leap

At the heart of the mission is fidelity to Stephen King’s story, and in that respect the Wreck-It Ralph 2 directors seem to be innovating where the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring film did not, staying closer to the novella than the first film adaptation did. With the help of the actor Glen Powell, Wright ‘has really shaped the script into something closely resembling the novella’ as opposed to the film with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

‘I’ve been an Edgar Wright fan my entire life,’ Powell told USA Today. In their many discussions, it only makes sense that they were in sync for a version that retains the thematic and narrative integrity of King’s story. Not only does it help differentiate the upcoming project from the 1987 one, but it also allows for a Studio Ghibli-style treatment of King’s dystopian narrative that the studio never before gave him.

The World as a STUDIO: Expanding the Arena

The most important of his departures, in fact, is to the story-world, which he expands from the enclosed, gladiatorial arena of the movie into a larger theatre of action, making the human quarry not a solitary mole in a single arena but a global manhunt that becomes a game of strategy and disguise: There would be no claustrophobia here, the entire world is one big studio.

Assassin Casting: A New STUDIO of Challengers

Another tweak is the antagonists Wright chooses for his protagonist. In the 1987 movie, he goes up against hired assassins – including famous athletes and actors – who make his task all the more difficult. Powell alludes to the same tactic, but with a cast of working characters whose wide-ranging talents, including possible casting of the US football player J J Watt and the US MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, could well bring a whole studio of real-life notoriety to a tale of survival.

A STUDIO of Difference: A Survival Story at Heart

In essence, Wright and Powell’s attempt to inhabit the realm of The Running Man is less about adapting an old story, and more about reforming the archetypes of a survival story, and resurrecting them for a new studio. How could we retain the POWs’ essential sense of panic, terror and excitement while exposing their core fable to more psychological, philosophical depth?

The Anticipation Builds: A STUDIO on the Horizon

The hard and fast is that the studio-backed endeavour doesn’t have a date yet, which means fans are still waiting with bated breath. With Powell currently starring in ‘Hit Man’ on Netflix, and his starring role in Twisters on the horizon – a clear path to increased visibility – the prospect of a Powell/Wright collaboration has intensified. That means this could be the year that The Running Man gets the remake it deserves, whether the studio or its fans are ready or not.

Exploring the STUDIO's Role in Cinematic Storytelling

The studio in relation to the film enterprise – the practical, creative, financial and technological contexts that fostered the screenplay’s transformation into cinematic form – should be understood not as a particular studio building or lot, but as a fetish for the location where the trick of moviemaking unfolds. And, in the case of Edgar Wright’s The Running Man, the studio manifests as an alchemical vessel for the performance of ingenuity through the faith to Stephen King.

It’s the collaborative effort of artists, technicians and visionaries inside that laboratory space that transforms words on a page into cinema, and can boldly reinterpret the beloved stories of old. Wright’s studio – and its dedication to a type of aesthetically sound, and ethically principled filmmaking – might point one way forward for adaptations: one that honours its literary sources while also offering audiences new ways to experience them.

Ultimately, The Running Man is a fascinating example of literary fidelity, cinematic innovation, and studio collaboration. At this very moment, Wright and Powell are in the early stages of this ambitious project, and they will soon set out to make more than just a movie. If they succeed, they will be creating an experience for fans of Stephen King and cinephiles alike, capable of taking the very sunlit surface of the movie industry’s studio system to its next level.

Jun 08, 2024
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