South African-born director Neill Blomkamp has already demonstrated he’s more than capable of handling gritty, quality sci-fi and now Deadline reports that MGM has hired the writer/director of District 9 to make a film called RoboCop Returns, a sort of sequel/reboot to the original 1987 Paul Verhoeven film and unrelated to the 2014 remake in an effort to reinvigorate the franchise.
Justin Rhodes (Terminator 6) is rewriting a script by Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner, who also wrote the original film. The pair wrote a sequel script after they wrote the original movie, but it never got made due to a writers strike and Verhoeven’s lack of interest in doing it. Two unrelated sequels followed, and a long time after came the 2014 reboot, but none of those told the story of the original follow-up idea. That script, and its ideas, lingered.
“Right when Trump was about to be elected president [MGM President Jon Glickman] called me and said, ‘Did you actually predict in your sequel script that a reality star would run for president and win?’ Neumeier told Deadline. “We had. So Mike and I wrote a draft and gave one interview in Barbados and I think the only person who read it was Neill Blomkamp, and that set this in motion.”
The reported plot synopsis is that “anarchy reigns and the fate of Detroit hangs in the balance as RoboCop makes his triumphant return to fight crime and corruption.” However, it’s unclear if this is a direct sequel, a straight reboot, or a bit of both. It seems like the latter.
Here for your viewing pleasure is the original edit of Mr Kinney’s death scene at the hands of the malfunctioning ED-209 before it was trimmed to satisfy censors.
“The original definitely had a massive effect on me as a kid,” Blomkamp said. “I loved it then and it remains a classic in the end of 20th Century sci-fi catalog, with real meaning under the surface. Hopefully that is something we can get closer to in making of a sequel. That is my goal here.”
Hopes were high when the 2014 reboot was announced. It boasted an incredible cast including Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Jackie Earle Haley – in a somewhat mis-cast role – and Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy. However, director José Padilha has repeatedly cited studio interference resulted in a less-than-great end result.
According to IMDb, Padilha phoned friend and fellow Brazilian Director Fernando Meirelles during production to confide in him his frustration in the lack of creative control he was allowed by the studio for the project. Padilha estimated that for every ten ideas he brought to the project, the studio refused nine, and went on to the describe the making of the film as “The worst experience of his life”. When word of this conversation became public, in an effort to appease the studio, Padilha released counter statements expressing satisfaction with the film.
Padilha and Kinnaman fought hard for an R-rating, but due to the ever expanding budget, which went from a modest $60 million and ballooned to $100 million, studio executives were forced to deliver a PG-13 rating, in hopes of recouping the money the studio had spent on the film. Throughout the course of filming, studio executives kept a close eye on Padilha, making sure he was going to deliver a PG-13 rating.
Since Blomkamp’s vision for rebooting the Alien franchise fell flat, this feels like a perfect fit.
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