Escape From New York IP-holder wanted to sue Metal Gear Solid
John Carpenter said not to, because Kojima is "a nice guy".
It's no secret that Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima is a fan of John Carpenter's 1981 Kurt Russell vehicle Escape From New York. I mean, the main character in his beloved stealth series is even named after New York's gruff anti-hero and they even share the same mullet, eyepatch, five o'clock shadow and gruff voice. There's yet another reference to Kurt Russell's character in Metal Gear Solid 2 wherein Snake goes by the alias "Iroquois Plissken". The similarities were so close that the company who owns the rights to the film, CanalPlus, wanted to sue Kojima over it.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Carpenter explained that the only reason CanalPlus held back was because he, the other rights holder, told them not to.
"[CanalPlus] wanted to also go after the video game Metal Gear Solid, which is kind of a rip-off of Escape From New York, too, but I told them not to do that," Carpenter said. "I know the director of those games, and he's a nice guy, or at least he's nice to me."
CanalPlus did however sue Luc Besson over the film Lockout, a movie he wrote that bore more than a passing resemblance to Escape From New York. Both films were about a convict sent by the government into a prison to rescue the president's daughter. "It's the same story," Carpenter laughed. "I mean, you can't do that, can you? You have to change a couple things. He's after the president's daughter? Come on. So I took him to French court."
CanalPlus only received about €80k of the €3m it sued for, and only €20k of that went to Carpenter.
It's worth noting that outside of Solid Snake's appearance, Metal Gear Solid's story didn't match Escape From New York's in any notable way and it was primarily an homage, if not one a little on the nose. Kojima has since offered an alternate explanation to the origin of Solid Snake's name.
Back in 2004 Namco's Bay Area studio, responsible for Kill Switch, was working on an Escape From New York game, but it was canned. Based on the since released footage, it sounded rather similar to Metal Gear Solid.
For another cool John Carpenter video game reference, do check out Saints Row 4's incredible homage to They Live.