EXCLUSIVE: Snake Plissken is back! Fox has emerged from competitive bidding and closed a deal to remake the 1981 John Carpenter-directed cult classic Escape From New York. Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman’s The Picture Company will produce.

escapThe original was released by Avco Embassy, and the rights were owned by Studiocanal. Carpenter will be an executive producer and will exert creative influence over the project. Fox’s Mike Ireland brought it in and will steer. The hope is to reinvent the property with an eye toward launching a new franchise.

In the original, Kurt Russell played Plissken, an eyepatch-sporting tough guy who is conscripted to rescue the president of the United States after Air Force One — en route to a summit that could head off WWIII — goes missing after it crashes in New York, which has been relegated to a maximum security prison. Plissken, a former special forces operative convicted of trying to rob the Federal Reserve, is given 22 hours to liberate the president and a tape he carries which holds the key to peace. If he fails, he’s wired to explode.

The cynical original, hatched by Carpenter after the Watergate scandal, was set in a futuristic Gotham circa 1997. There have been remake overtures before, but not with Carpenter involved. New Line tried it with Neal Moritz. It’s the second producing project set up by The Picture Company, after they set Nottingham And Hood at Disney. TPC has a deal with Studiocanal.

ouchWhile there was a spate of rumors earlier this fall that the film was about to be cast with the likes of Sons Of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam, I’m told those rumors amounted to wishful thinking by fans, because there was no rights deal made until now, and there is no script. They are starting from scratch. That said, the notion of Hunnam playing the Snake, or Chris Hemsworth who was another one rumored, seems like pretty inspired ideas from here. I saw Russell at an AFM buyers event for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, and he certainly looked robust though you can’t do a remake with the original guy.

All of that is fantasy league stuff and the reality comes down the road when they hire a scribe and a filmmaker and the studio gets a script it likes. Who else is worth considering for Plissken?