RoboCop Returns lives! THR reports that MGM’s IP project has recruited Little Monsters and Down Under director Abe Forsythe to write and direct the sequel/reboot. And this time, RoboCop is getting the Halloween and Terminator: Dark Fate treatment — the report notes that the film is being developed as a direct sequel to Paul Verhoeven‘s 1987 sci-fi/action classic.
Original screenwriters Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner are producing the film, along with Atlas Entertainment’s Richard Suckle. Neumeier and Miner also wrote the original version of the sequel script with screenwriter Justin Rhodes (who just delivered a damn fine rebootquel of another robotic 80s classic with Terminator: Dark Fate) set to retool their script. Now, Forsythe will re-write the script from Rhodes.
Verhoeven’s original film starred Peter Weller as a police offer on death’s door who becomes an experimental bio-tech hybrid intended to serve the law. A RoboCop, if you will. Thanks to Verhoeven’s punchy direction, Neumeier and Miner’s irreverent script, and Rob Bottin‘s iconic character design, RoboCop has endured as a classic of one of the best eras in action filmmaking, with as much to say about identity and ideas of law and order as it does about gleeful overindulgent violence.
It’s an interesting thing, seeing this project come together in a year when audiences have been almost universally rejecting non-Disney IP plays. Dark Fate was one of the big studio sequel/reboots that took a beating at the box office this year, but so did countless others, across genres, including MIB: International, Doctor Sleep, and most recently, Charlie’s Angels. Not to mention the fact that RoboCop just had a reboot from Jose Padilha in 2014 and that decidedly didn’t fare so well. (That said, Leigh Whannell’s fantastic original sci-fi Upgrade very much pulled from the DNA of RoboCop and proved there’s plenty of gas in the human-hybrid storytelling tank with the right approach.)
District 9 filmmaker Neill Blomkamp was previously attached to write and direct the feature, but announced he was off the project back in August, explaining that he was busy shooting a horror/thriller project and “MGM can’t wait/ need to shoot Robocop now.” Indeed, they wasted little time finding a new filmmaker in Forsythe, who is coming of the delightful Lupita Nyong’o zombie comedy Little Monsters, which dropped on Hulu last month. The jump between Forsyth’s previous feature, the brutal Australian race riot comedy Down Under (yeah you read that all right) couldn’t have been more tonally different, but both features were foul-mouthed comedies with a cynical edge and bouts of effective action. Which is to say, I can see how he would be a good fit for RoboCop, even if I’m not convinced audiences are hungry for more reboots at the moment.
However, the bleeding of lines between technology, law enforcement and corruption couldn’t be timelier, so I’m curious to see if they bring a more distinct edge to the project than the last reboot. For now, I can’t stop pondering who should play the title cop-bot. My pick? Michael Shannon. Sound off in the comments with yours!