Snake Plissken Escapes to Animé

Kurt Russell's mercenary antihero in Escape from New York returns for animated film and DVD

By Josh Grossberg Jul 31, 2002 5:20 PMTags
Everyone's favorite eye-patched mercenary--played by Kurt Russell in director John Carpenter's sci-fi classic Escape from New York and its 1996 Sequel Escape from L.A.--is going the way of animé.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Carpenter, producer Debra Hill and Russell are looking to resurrect their famed B-movie character Snake Plissken in a new animated feature film in the style of such famed Japanese 'toons as Princess Mononoke and Akira.

"We want to take Japanese sensibility and combine that with Western storytelling," Hill tells the Reporter.

The animé movie will be executive produced by Carpenter and Hill with the aid of a Japanese animé firm that they will hire to do the animation.

It's just one of several projects being eyed for a multimedia Snake revival. The creative partners also are teaming up with Hurricane Entertainment to develop a comic book series following Snake's adventures, dubbed John Carpenter's Snake Plissken Chronicles, which will debut simultaneously with MGM Home Entertainment's special edition DVD of Escape From New York.

And fans will be happy to learn that Russell has gladly signed on to provide the voice to Snake (whom he's often said is his favorite role) not only for the animated movie, but for a planned video game. The game will also include some live footage of the actor, filmed through a process called motion capture.

All of these projects are part of an effort to keep Snake up-to-date in the ever-growing pantheon of homegrown American action heroes--at a time when Hollywood studios are more anxious than ever for money-making franchises.

"When we made the original film in 1981, there was no video or DVD or video games," Hill, one of the original supervisors of Escape from New York, told the Reporter. "I look at the movie industry at large today and most movies are in some way branded, whether they're spinoffs of a comic book, video game or novel or a sequel to a film franchise. We've done two movies, set up a TV series that didn't happen and now want to relaunch Snake Plissken back into the vernacular of pop culture."

The TV show was meant to be an hourlong syndicated action series featuring the former war hero and condemned criminal. Though the series sounded like a great idea, Tinseltown didn't bite and Carpenter and company couldn't make it fly for the 2001 television season. But Hill says they've already put out a couple of Snake novels expanding on the Escape universe, and they have high hopes the mercenary will make his way to the tube.

"We introduced a lot of legends in the first two films, and with the comics, novels, video games and animé, we'll be able to explore some of these things," Hill added. "How did Snake lose his eye? What happened in the Battle of Cleveland or at the Battle of Leningrad? What is New Las Vegas? We'll explore these stories as well as introduce new stories."

While producers try figuring out which post-Armageddon city-turned-penal colony Snake should escape from next, video game publishers are currently bidding for the rights to the first game, which should hit store shelves around the same time the 'toon is released to theaters--sometime in 2004.