The RoboCop franchise isn’t down for the count. MGM Studios announced Wednesday that it’s resurrecting the property after the 2014 film with Joel Kinnaman for a new installment with director Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Chappie) at the helm.
Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner wrote the script for the original 1987 RoboCop, directed by Paul Verhoeven, and drafted a concept for a sequel that never came to fruition at the time. Now, years later, this newly announced installment, titled RoboCop Returns, will be based on that long-dormant sequel idea.
Justin Rhodes, who’s involved with Tim Miller’s new Terminator movie and DC’s Green Lantern Corps, has been tasked with giving it a rewrite. Neumeier will stay on as a producer and Miner an executive producer.
“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?’ We had,” Neumeier told Deadline in breaking the news. “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 original RoboCop starred Peter Weller as Alex Murphy, a cop working in a dystopian Detroit who becomes terminally injured in the line of duty. He then is remade as the cyborg we now know as RoboCop.
Kinnaman’s run as the character was critically bashed in America, but ended up making $246.7 million worldwide. “What we did wrong on RoboCop, we just did something new and didn’t really take into account what the fans really loved about the original,” Kinnaman had told UPROXX in 2015 on the film’s tepid welcome. “I think that we should have gone and found more humor and more charm in it. And it’s tricky doing a movie like RoboCop at PG-13. Maybe we shouldn’t have changed the suit and we should have done it rated R and do it with a smaller budget — I think people would have given it a much bigger chance. But, with all that said, as a film, I’m really proud of it. I think it’s a really good movie that has really interesting concepts.”
Verhoeven also threw in his own two cents on the remake in 2016. “Somehow they seem to think that the lightness of say Total Recall and RoboCop is a hindrance,” he said. “So they take these somewhat absurd stories and make them much too serious. I think that is a mistake.”
Blomkamp, who also directed Elysium, has more recently been building up his Oat Studios, an independent film studio churning out unique sci-fi concepts, like the “God: Serengeti” short film with frequent collaborator Sharlto Copley.
The filmmaker told Deadline Verhoeven’s RoboCop “had a massive effect” on his kid self.
“What I connected to as a kid has evolved over time,” he said. “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.”