Another Hollywood reboot? I’d buy that for a dollar! MGM just announced that Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium, Chappie) will helm RoboCop Returns, a film based on a screenplay that Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner wrote decades ago as a sequel to the original RoboCop (1987). Justin Rhodes (Untitled Terminator Reboot, Green Lantern Corps) is rewriting the script, while Neumeier will serve as a producer and Miner will executive-produce.
The original RoboCop, directed by Paul Verhoeven, became a cult hit thanks to its satirical sci-fi action and ultra-violence. The movie originally earned an X-rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in 1987 due to its depictions of graphic violence, so Verhoeven toned down the gore in order to attain an R-rating for its initial theatrical run. The uncut version later saw a release on DVD and Blu-ray.
The first film starred Peter Weller as a cop in a dystopian version of Detroit who miraculously survives being blasted to bits by a shotgun-wielding gang. Terminally wounded, he returns to the force as a powerful cyborg law enforcement officer who is haunted by subconscious memories from his past. MGM rebooted the series in 2014 with Joel Kinnaman in the lead role, but tepid reviews and lower-than-expected box office returns diminished its chances of getting a direct sequel.
Given his affinity for the source material and his confident work in the sci-fi genre, Blomkamp feels right at home with this project. “The original definitely had a massive effect on me as a kid,” Blomkamp told Deadline. “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 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.”
Blomkamp also noted that he is thrilled to be making a true follow-up to the original Robocop. A treatise on corporate greed and societal absurdities, the movie spawned several sequels, but they lacked the vision that Verhoeven brought to the table. “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.”
Why did this script get pushed aside when it came time to make RoboCop 2 (1990)? “Verhoeven felt at the time that making one would be de classe and he wasn’t interested in the politics of a sequel,” Neumeier said, when questioned by Deadline. “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.”
Funnily enough, our current political climate led to revitalized interest in the long-lost script, Neumeier explained. “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. 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.”
There’s no word on casting for RoboCop Returns yet, but we’ll keep a cyborg-eye out for any news as it breaks. As a certain superhuman cop would say, “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me to mxdwn.com!“