Eli Roth has signed on to direct a remake of 1974 action film Death Wish, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The project, which is currently set to star Bruce Willis, has been bouncing around for some time — its last set of directors, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado of Rabies and Big Bad Wolves, left last month. Roger Birnbaum, who has previously worked on (among many other projects) Rush Hour and Unbreakable, is attached as the film’s producer.
The original Death Wish, based on a 1972 novel, starred Charles Bronson as a New York vigilante avenging the death of his wife and sexual assault of his daughter. While the film saw four sequels from 1982 to 1994, it’s very specifically situated around anxiety over ‘70s urban crime, and as with many works from that era, we’ve got a lot of questions about how it could be adapted well. It’s possible to imagine a modern Death Wish as everything from a period piece to a generic action vehicle, although given Roth’s history with films like ‘70s cannibal horror homage The Green Inferno, it hopefully won’t be the latter.
Before leaving the project, Keshales and Papushado reportedly hoped to “stay away from the original and problematic (albeit fun to watch) Michael Winner film” and stick more closely to the tone of the “excellent minimalist novel;” they departed because of creative differences with MGM. An even earlier version of the film would have been written and directed by Joe Carnahan (The Grey), but Carnahan apparently left the project in part because of Willis’ casting, as detailed in a vitriolic letter to MGM film group president Jonathan Glickman. With Roth’s project in the early stages, it’s too soon to say whether this will be the version that finally makes it to theaters.