Horror director Eli Roth, best known for ultra-gory flicks like Cabin Fever, Hostel and Green Inferno, continues his march toward mainstream Hollywood. THR has confirmed that Roth has signed a deal with MGM to direct a reboot of the 1974 Charles Bronson vigilante flick Death Wish, with Die Hard star Bruce Willis attached to the leading role.
Big Bad Wolves directors Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado had previously been tapped to helm the remake, but they departed the project last month. They proposed a number of script changes that would ensure the project hewed closer to the original novel by Brian Garfield, but with a release date penciled in and Willis already signing off on the existing script, the studio balked at the revisions.
Here’s an excerpt from the duo’s announcement, released shortly after their departure:
“We wanted to stay away from the original and problematic (albeit fun to watch) Michael Winner film, and move more towards the spirit of the original novel by Brian Garfield – an excellent minimalist novel that never got the cinematic treatment it deserved. We wanted to follow the vision of the director who originally was set to make it, but ultimately was not allowed to – Sidney Lumet. Lumet wanted to direct a film about a simple man, he even thought of Jack Lemmon for the lead, which experiences a terrible tragedy and then falls to the depths of hell. When we imagined the thriller in our minds we thought Taxi Driver, Falling Down… with a bloodcurdling finale like Sicario.”
It’s a shame this didn’t work out, as it sounds like Keshales and Papushado would have made a very different film than we’re likely to get in the end. And their exit was wasn’t the first bump in the road, either – an early draft of the script was penned by Joe Carnahan, who wrote it with an eye toward directing. When MGM passed, Carnahan sent a famously foul-mouthed email to studio CEO Jonathan Glickman, which Carnahan’s rep insists was “all in good fun.”
Not that Roth is necessarily a bad choice, but over the past few years he’s been shying away from the type of films that defined his earlier career – last year’s sexual thriller Knock Knock was his most accessible effort yet, and with a major studio funding Death Wish and a big-time box office star in the lead, this could be Roth’s opportunity to break through to the next level.
We’ll keep you posted on the Death Wish remake as this story continues to develop.
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