Back in 2014 a remake to Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 sci-fi classic RoboCop was released. And while not as disastrous as some believed it would be, the remake did not fare too well critically or financially. Now another attempt at a new entry in the franchise has been announced.
MGM has begun developing RoboCop Returns, and they’ve brought in Neill Blomkamp to direct it. But the movie will not be another remake. Instead, they’re taking a similar approach to the latest in the Halloween franchise and making a direct sequel to Verhoeven’s original.
The screenplay for the sequel was actually written by the screenwriters behind the original, Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner, many years ago. The movie ended up not happening, and other sequels were made instead. Neumeier explained why their sequel ended up on a shelf:
“Verhoeven felt at the time that making one would be de classe and he wasn’t interested in the politics of a sequel. Then, the writers strike came along in 1988 and we were force majeured off the project. They brought in Frank Miller on a waiver. He wrote a draft and then another with Walon Green, and it got made by Irvin Kershner, who directed The Empire Strikes Back. I went off and did Starship Troopers with Paul.”
Their inspirations in writing the sequel were leading men of few words, such as John Wayne in The Searchers and Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, said Miner:
“There were four or five things RoboCop couldn’t do, including no talking on the phone, no kissing the girl, and he couldn’t fly and would be limited to four or five signature phrases. Ed and I became zen like in writing that dialogue, which had to be like sharp spears that punch you, in dialogue form. We would labor a whole day over one line.”
So what exactly brought their original sequel script out of the darkness it had resided in for so many years and back into the light? Neumeier shared that it began when he got a call from MGM president Jon Glickman:
“Right when Trump was about to be elected president he called me and said, “˜Did you actually predict in your sequel script that a reality star would run for president and win?’ 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.”
Blomkamp is best known for his Academy Award nominated District 9, as well as Elysium, Chappie, and the Oats Studios project. Of taking on a new RoboCop he said:
“The original definitely had a massive effect on me as a kid. 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. What I connected to as a kid has evolved over time. At first, the consumerism, materialism and Reaganomics, that ’80s theme of America on steroids, came through most strongly. But As I’ve gotten older, the part that really resonated with me is identity, and the search for identity. As long as the human component is there, a good story can work in any time period, it’s not locked into a specific place in history. What’s so cool about RoboCop is that like good Westerns, sci-fi films and dramas, the human connection is really important to a story well told. What draws me now is someone searching for their lost identity, taken away at the hands of people who are benefiting from it, and seeing his memory jogged by events. That is most captivating. The other thing I am excited by is the chance to work again with Justin Rhodes. He has added elements that are pretty awesome, to a sequel that was set in the world of Verhoeven. This is a movie I would love to watch.”
No release window or cast for RoboCop Returns has been announced yet.