MGM planning ‘RoboCop Returns’ in latest attempt to reboot franchise
LOS ANGELES. MGM Studios is moving forward with a sequel to the 2014 “RoboCop” reboot, entitled “RoboCop Returns.” The studio hopes for a revival of the franchise which now spans over 30 years from the date of the original film. MGM has tapped Neill Blomkamp as director for the sequel.
Blomkamp gained fame for directing the acclaimed 2009 sci-fi film “District 9,” a film nominated for four different Academy Awards including Adapted Screenplay. Blomkamp shared that nomination with Terri Tatchell. “District 9” was also one of the contenders for the Best Picture Oscar award that year.
Directed by Paul Verhoeven, the original “RoboCop,” starring Peter Weller in the title role, was released in 1987. The blockbuster film cost $13 million to produce. But it went on to earn $53 million in revenue, a highly-impressive gate at that time.
The film’s success soon led to a pair of sequels, 1990’s “RoboCop 2” and 1993’s “RoboCop 3.” The third film garnered the worst reviews, even though it was the only film in the trilogy to receive a more family-friendly PG-13 rating.
The more recent 2014 film, starring Joel Kinnaman and Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson was a remake of the original. Set in the year 2028, it received mixed reviews from critics and viewers, despite its stellar cast.
Blomkamp says the original “RoboCop” film had a massive effect on him. He stated that the themes of the film evolved over time, but asserted that the original story can fit any time period. For Blomkamp, “human connection” still makes the movie concept work even now over 30 years later after the original blockbuster, as noted in a July 11 article in The Verge, penned by Bijan Stephen.
“‘At first, the consumerism, materialism, and Reaganomics, that ‘80s theme of America on steroids, came through most strongly,’ he said to Deadline. ‘But as I’ve gotten older, the part that really resonated with me is identity, and the search for identity.'”
Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner worked on the original script for the upcoming film several years ago. Justin Rhodes gets the rewrite assignment. Rhodes is also responsible for creating the script for the new “Terminator” film. Neumeier and Miner move upstairs to serve as producer and executive producer for the new “Robocop” film.
If the new film’s lineage seems confusing, Bijan Stephen takes a good shot at clearing things up.
“RoboCop — the cyborg law man who cannot be killed by humans, the law, or Hollywood, apparently — is back…. MGM is producing a new installment of the franchise, a reboot of the planned sequel written by the 1987 picture’s original writers, which never made it to theaters because of a writer’s strike the year after RoboCop’s premiere, and because Paul Verhoeven, who directed the original film, thought directing a sequel would be ‘déclassé.’ The script languished for years, until the run-up to the 2016 election. The president of MGM, Jonathan Glickman, called up Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner, the two writers of 1987’s RoboCop. ‘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,’ Neumeier told Deadline. ‘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.’ Now Neumeier has a producer credit and Miner is an executive producer.”
The 1987 “RoboCop” followed the strange career of a workmanlike cop (Weller) in Detroit. Early in the film, crooks brutally gunned him down, apparently killing him in the line of duty. But leading-edge scientists gained permission to use experimental robotics technology to revive him, transforming him into a powerful cyborg cop. “Robocop” soon began a crusade to clean up crime thanks to his hi-tech advantages over the city’s crooks.
Due to its highly graphic violence — unusual at the time of its release — Hollywood censors threatened the original film with an X rating. The filmmakers managed to massage the film just enough to gain the R rating prior to release. But the controversy helped generate buzz, as audiences were curious about the controversy.
Blomkamp’s new film is also expected to have an R-rating, according to a recent preview piece in “ScreenRant.”
Deleted scenes from the original are currently available in newer Blu-Ray and DVD releases of the film.
Plot details for RoboCop Returns
Plot details for Blomkamp’s new film are few. However, we can get a glimpse of what’s up by checking out a plot synopsis published by Comicbook.com.
“Anarchy reigns and the fate of Detroit hangs in the balance as RoboCop makes his triumphant return to fight crime and corruption.”
That blurb is clearly reminiscent of the first film’s original plotline.
MGM has not yet made the cast and release date of the new “Robocop” sequel available to the media.
—Top photo: Screen capture of still from the 2014 reboot of “RoboCop” via Sony Pictures website. Fair use, film history and preview.