Anyone who has read Stephen King’s novel The running man is almost surely aware that the 1987 film adaptation starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is far from faithful. Both are dystopian stories centered around a protagonist named Ben Richards who takes part in a killer game show, but the book and film take that idea in very different directions.
Reflecting on King’s work, one can see several reasons why bringing it to the big screen would be difficult, but according to screenwriter Steven de Souza, it was really the planned project as a Schwarzenegger vehicle that prevented greater fidelity. . Why? Because Ben Richards in the novel is a sickly, hopeless, unemployed individual, and de Souza doesn’t think the public would accept the idea that a person who looks like The predator star would never be out of work.
Steven de Souza elucidated this part of the Stephen King adaptation story when I spoke to him last summer before The running manupcoming 35th anniversary. He talked about the origins of the project and its relationship to the book (which was published under King’s pseudonym, Richard Bachman), and he explained how Arnold Schwarzenegger’s casting forced him to go in a different direction. with the plot as what is presented on the page. Says the filmmaker,
It is a logical point. When an individual has muscles as big as Arnold Schwarzenegger, he is still employable due to his physical strength. Even in a fully automated world, there will be a need for strong people to pick up and carry heavy objects, ensuring that they are never out of work for long. Or as Steven de Souza said.
At Stephen King’s The running man, Ben Richards is forced to volunteer for the titular game show because his young child has tuberculosis and his wife does not earn enough money for prostitution. This idea wouldn’t play out for the movie, so Steven de Souza gave the character a completely different profile.
The adaptation reimagined Richards as a soldier arrested after breaking orders and thrown into a prison camp. He manages to escape, but is then caught and given the opportunity to participate in America’s most popular game show to try and win back his freedom. This backstory felt much more appropriate and realistic for a character sporting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s physique.
Making the changes was a smart call for The running man adaptation, and it has helped the film age incredibly well since its first theatrical release in November 1987. one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finest films of the era, featuring many of the actor’s best one-liners.
For those who want to celebrate in style The running manthe film is available for digital rental and purchase through Amazon Prime Video (opens in a new tab)Apple (opens in a new tab)Vudoo (opens in a new tab)and Google Play (opens in a new tab). Fans can also pre-order the brand new limited edition 4K set (opens in a new tab) which will be released on November 1.