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Neill Blomkamp out as director of RoboCop Returns

By Josh Grossberg

Neill Blomkamp has a new prime directive, and sadly it doesn't involve everyone's favorite OCP cyborg.

The District 9 director took to Twitter today to announce that he is no longer helming RoboCop Returns. The reason? Chalk it up to differences with MGM, whom Blomkamp indicated couldn't wait around until he was done shooting the horror/thriller he's currently working on.

SYFY WIRE has confirmed that the director and the studio have indeed parted ways due to scheduling conflicts.

The news is no doubt crushing to fans who thought the South African filmmaker was the perfect choice to revive the '80s icon on the big screen — especially considering the photo-realism he's brought to previous robot-centric films, among them 2013's Elysium, 2015's Chappie, and a bevy of live-action shorts (imagine what he'd do with ED-209?!).

RoboCop Returns is said to feature a story and script from the character's creators, Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner, that went unused after the first film's release and supposedly focused on RoboCop returning to fight crime and corruption in Detroit after anarchy grips the city.

For his part, Blomkamp had promised to "emulate" the satirical wit and style of original RoboCop director Paul Verhoeven for the sequel, even at one point expressing interest in bringing back Peter Weller, who played Officer Alex Murphy in the 1987 sci-fi classic and its 1990 follow-up, RoboCop 2.

That would have been an exciting turnaround after 2014's ill-fated RoboCop remake, a rather dull affair directed by Jose Padilha, which starred Joel Kinnaman and earned mixed reviews from fans and critics alike.

No word on who'll be replacing Blomkamp. SYFY WIRE has reached out to MGM for comment.

RoboCop Returns joins Blomkamp's heavily hyped and long-gestating Alien 5 in the dustbin of projects that didn't happen. But despite not having had a film in theaters in four years, the auteur has been keeping busy. Back in February, he released Conviction, a live-action short prequel movie to Bioware's video game Anthem. And he's also shooting Greenland, starring Marvel alum Chris Evans in a thriller about "one family's fight for survival in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster."

We'd buy that for a dollar.

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