RoboCop is being switched on again and filmmaker Neill Blomkamp will be his commanding officer. Deadline reports that Blomkamp has been tapped by MGM to direct RoboCop Returns, a new installment in the 31-year-old franchise that began with director Paul Verhoeven's brilliant, original RoboCop.
Speaking of originals, RoboCop creators Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner are on board as producer and executive producer respectively, with an unused sequel script that they wrote years ago providing the basis for the project -- although that screenplay is being rewritten by Justin Rhodes (who recently wrote the next Terminator movie).
What is RoboCop Returns about? The plot has been briefly described this way: "Anarchy reigns and the fate of Detroit hangs in the balance as RoboCop makes his triumphant return to fight crime and corruption."
What's interesting about this project is that it marks the first time since the original 1987 film that Neumeier and Miner are involved with the character again. Neither man worked on 1990's RoboCop 2, 1993's RoboCop 3 or the 2014 remake. The script they originally wrote 30 years ago never got used for a variety of reasons -- including a writers' strike, Verhoeven's lack of interest in doing a sequel and other factors -- but an executive at MGM recently took another look and noticed that it contained the plot point of a reality TV star becoming president. Kind of sounds timely, doesn't it?
Blomkamp read the script too and wanted to get involved, telling Deadline:
“The original definitely had a massive effect on me as a kid. 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 I connected to as a kid has evolved over time. At first, the consumerism, materialism and Reaganomics, that ’80s theme of America on steroids, came through most strongly. But As I’ve gotten older, the part that really resonated with me is identity, and the search for identity...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."
Blomkamp broke out in 2009 with the successful District 9, but his follow-ups Elysium and Chappie failed to connect with audiences in the same way. Although he was developing his own version of Alien 5 for a while, he's spent the past few years building his Oats Studios in Vancouver and making a series of short films. He's also set to start shooting a natural disaster film called Greenland with Chris Evans later this year, so presumably RoboCop Returns will go into production after that.
It's not clear if RoboCop Returns will reference the 2014 remake or not, so whether that movie's star, Joel Kinnaman, is going to reprise the role remains unknown for now. That movie was not a hit in North America but did scoop up $240 million globally, doing especially well in China.
What do you think about RoboCop returning and can Neill Blomkamp revive the franchise?