District 9 and Chappie director Neil Blomkamp has been hired by MGM to make a new Robocop movie, but there's a twist. The new film won't be a sequel that woeful 2014 reboot, instead, original Robocop writers Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner's unproduced sequel script is forming the backbone. Justin Rhodes (who co-wrote the new Terminator sequel that's currently filming) will rewrite Miner and Neumeier's script for what's described a continuation of Paul Verhoeven's 1987 classic.
Speaking to Deadline, Blomkamp spoke extensively about what drew him to the project.
“The original definitely had a massive effect on me as a kid,” Blomkamp told Deadline. “I loved it then, and it remains a classic in the end of 20th Century sci-fi catalogue, 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.
As long as the human component is there, a good story can work in any time period, it’s not locked into a specific place in history. What’s so cool about RoboCop is that like good Westerns, sci-fi films, and dramas, the human connection is really important to a story well told. 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. That is most captivating. The other thing I am excited by is the chance to work again with Justin Rhodes. He has added elements that are pretty awesome, to a sequel that was set in the world of Verhoeven. This is a movie I would love to watch.”
The first Robocop was a gritty and violent sci-fi action classic, loaded with as much satire as firepower, Verhoeven's film blazed a trail for grown-up sci-fi in the 80s. The first sequel kept the tone, but aside from predicting that the city of Detroit would file for bankruptcy, Robocop 2 didn't push the franchise into new territory. That all changed for the next installment, Peter Weller didn't return as the titular hero, and in a bid to appeal to a younger audience, the R-rated tone was replaced with generic PG-13 rated action. Aside from a short-lived TV series that ran for one season in 1997, Robocop lay dormant for seventeen years.
The 2014 reboot made a modest $242 million worldwide against a production budget of $100 million. Despite the soft box-office results, Sony was developing a sequel, although four years on and no sequel emerged. Robocop isn't the first classic sci-fi Blomkamp has been attached to; his long-mooted Alien sequel was set to bring Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn back to the franchise. Fox buried that idea and pushed on with Ridley Scott's prequel saga, although the tepid response to Alien Covenant could cause Fox to have a change of heart.
There are no details on when Robocop Returns will be in cinemas, but we'll be sure to keep you updated.