What could be wrong with a 97 Escort if the car turns over but wont start and the fuel filter spark plugs and wires have been replaced could it be the battery or a cylinder problem?

I would check for spark. Pull a spark plug , plug it back into wire,lay it on engine, and have someone crank engine over. If no spark, I would suspect the control module which is attached to the side of distributor. LAck of compression, fuel or spark. IF it "no start" started before changing the parts listed you may have unintentionally created an additional problem from guessing. Anyways, if you pull the air intake cover off to expose the throttle body and crank the engine, you will see a mist of fuel going into it; if you don't you have lack of fuel. IF you turn the key to the on position-not cranking, there should be a 3 second hum heard. The fuel pump engergizing the pressure into the lines. If the engine cranks over more quickly than normal, it may be a lack of compression problem, such as a timing belt. If you pull a plug, keep the wire hooked up to it, crank the engine, you should see it sparking. It is not the battery as the car is cranking. The typical problems I see with these are timing belts, fuel pumps and ignition coils. I am almost positive there is no distributer in the 97 escorts.