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Escape from New York (1981)

R | | Action, Sci-Fi | 10 July 1981 (USA)
2:30 | Trailer

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In 1997, when the U.S. president crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in to rescue him.


2,529 ( 372)
4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Secretary of State
Taylor (scenes deleted)
John Strobel ...
Gypsy #1 (as John Cothran Jr.)
Garrett Bergfeld ...
Gypsy #2


In the future, crime is out of control and New York City's Manhattan is a maximum security prison. Grabbing a bargaining chip right out of the air, convicts bring down the President's plane in bad old Gotham. Gruff Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior new to prison life, is coerced into bringing the President, and his cargo, out of this land of undesirables. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The world's greatest leader is a hostage in the most dangerous place on Earth. Now only the deadliest man alive can save him. See more »


Action | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

10 July 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Escape from New York City  »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,162,000, 12 July 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (Extended Version)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The name "Snake Plissken" was changed to "Hyena" for the Italian release, and "Cobra" in South Korea. See more »


When Snake drives the station wagon through the gauntlet of convicts on Broadway, they pelt the car thoroughly with broken bricks. Immediately afterwards we see the vehicle from several angles, filthy but not actually dented. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once great city of New York becomes the one maximum security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem River, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards ...
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Spoofed in Camp Camp: Scout's Dishonor (2016) See more »


Bandstand Boogie
Music by Charles Albertine
Courtesy of Cherio Corporation
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Call me Snake..."
13 January 2003 | by See all my reviews

"Escape From New York" is a solid action noir by John Carpenter, although it lacks the punch of Carpenter's other three previous features ("The Fog", "Halloween", "Assault on Precinct 13"). Kurt Russell became famous for his Snake Plissken, and rightfully so, although the character seems to be only a more gritty version of Napoeleon Wilson in "Assault". What makes this film the cult classic it is is Carpenter's very apocalyptic and brash story. This is a very dark film, and it holds up especially well today when shown against the countless fluff films that Hollywood seems to be churning out.

Carpenter made the most out of his meeger budget and created a very convincing New York City. Not only is the set design fantastic, but so are the typically strong performances. Russell, Hayes, Barbeau, Pleasence, Stanton, Atkins, Cyphers and Borgnine are all cult legends, and seeing them all work together makes Robert Altman's casts look feeble in comparison.

What limits this film from greatness is surprisingly lax direction by Carpenter. The film is not as tight as it should have been, and really fails to generate any sort of suspense during the action. Deaths just happen out of nowhere, with little to no build up, which is a shame. This movie could have really been amazing. The ending is perfect though, and easily makes up for the film's faults. See it for Kurt Russell and the great ending and you will come away a happy viewer. Watch "Escape From LA" though to see what this movie should have been.

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