The Predator franchise is one that has thus far failed to measure up to the potential of the Arnold Schwarzenegger-fronted 1987 film. A sequel was hastily put together in 1990, and then the titular alien was mined for a pair of schlock Alien crossover films Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem before Fox rebooted the property with 2010’s Predators. That redo didn’t make much of a splash, but now Fox is reviving the franchise with one hell of a creative force behind it: Shane Black.
Indeed, the Lethal Weapon scribe and filmmaker behind the terrific Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, and this year’s criminally underseen The Nice Guys is shepherding a new sequel called The Predator as director and co-writer (with Fred Dekker), with an eye towards bringing the franchise back in line with the original film that started it all.
Casting on The Predator is underway in anticipation of an early 2017 production start-date, and when I recently had the chance to speak with Black in promotion of the book On Story – Screenwriters and Filmmakers on Their Iconic Films, we spoke briefly about his plans for The Predator. Firstly, Black revealed that filming begins in February in Vancouver:
“Right now we’re looking at probably beginning to mid February. I’m heading up to Vancouver in a week or two to go into a serious pre-production, so we’re on the cusp.”
Black’s directorial efforts thus far have showcased a terrific blend of comedy, drama, and spectacle, but the Predator franchise dips its toe into the horror waters. I asked the filmmaker what tone he intends to strike for this sequel, and he teased an incredibly promising aspect of wonder that should be present in the characters:
“I think the Predator movies have slightly veered from typical sci-fi in that there is a sort of thriller aspect to them. I think it should be scary, I think it should be funny, and I think ultimately it should be wondrous and about perceiving things that human beings very seldom get a chance to see… I don’t mean movie audiences I mean characters in the movie. I’m not saying the movie will be nothing anyone’s seen before (laughs).”
That wondrous aspect is one that far too many sci-fi blockbusters miss. Filmmakers get so hung up on the set pieces that they forget the creatures that the human characters come into contact with are literally other-worldly. Wouldn’t most of your ensemble react with more than a simple “Holy shit” before reaching for the guns?
As for the main characters themselves, we don’t know the specifics just yet, but Black teased that the core ensemble will have some similarities to the types of characters we saw in the original Predator:
“I think it’ll be interesting to get a group of credible guys—the hallmark of the first one is you have guys together that are kinda funny and self-referential and also very tough. I don’t know that we’re going to deviate over much from that, but there are at least a couple of factors that we’ve deliberately chosen to make it not just that group of buff, tough guys.”
And finally, as Fox has been venturing further into R-rated blockbuster territory with the wildly popular Deadpool and the upcoming Logan, Black discussed why Fox and he both agreed that R was the only way to go with The Predator:
“Fox has been very cooperative. I mean part of it is the success they had with Deadpool, but I also made a case—and I think they agreed—that fans of the Predator generally, probably aren’t looking to go to see a PG-13-rated version of it. It would be more of a letdown if it was sort of tailored to a family friendly audience than if it were allowed to play out to the same scale and level that the first R-rated one did.”
A tonally dynamic, R-rated sci-fi blockbuster from filmmaker Shane Black? What more could you want from a Predator sequel?
Look for more from my interview with Black on Collider soon. The Predator is slated for release on February 9, 2018.