Few movies define the 1960s in the way Easy Rider does, and a group of producers is hoping to make their own Easy Rider that will define the 2020s. The producers who now own the adaptation rights to the property told Variety on Tuesday they plan to make a new Easy Rider that will "youth of today a film that pays serious attention to their own countercultures and challenges." The original Easy Rider hit theaters in 1969 and became a pop culture sensation.
The original film was released by Columbia Pictures and produced by the late Peter Fonda and Raybert Productions. The adaptation rights are now held by Maurice Fadida's Kodiak Pictures, Defiant Studios' Eric B. Fleischman, and the Jean Boulle Group. Producers are now searching for writers and directors who could take on the challenging prospect of following up Easy Rider. They hope the new film could be a modern take on Easy Rider, similar to how Creed rebooted the Rocky franchise.
"Our goal is to build upon the counterculture and freedom narrative the original left us with, and give the youth of today a film that pays serious attention to their own countercultures and challenges," Fadida told Variety. "What the young viewers of today are experiencing in their every day lives may seem crazy to older generations, but it can very well become the societal norm, as was the case with the cultural shift of the late 1960s. We are hoping to play a part in that shift."
Easy Rider was written by Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, with Hopper directing. Fonda and Hopper starred as two motorcyclists who drive from Los Angeles to New Orleans with the profits from a cocaine smuggling run. Along the way, they run into plenty of trouble before meeting lawyer George Hanson, played by Jack Nicholson. Easy Rider cost just $400,000 to make but grossed $60 million worldwide. It is widely regarded as a generational touchstone, perfectly capturing the tension between the counterculture and those with power.
Easy Rider was nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar and earned Nicholson his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. It was added to the Library of Congress's National Film Registry in 1998. The producers will have a big challenge ahead of themselves to follow that success and acclaim.
The original film also featured an equally iconic soundtrack packed with songs from the biggest acts of the 1960s. The Byrds' Roger McGuinn performed the title song, "Ballad of Easy Rider." The film also featured The Band's "The Weight," Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild," and "If 6 Was 9" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.