It was back in January that Zeitgeist Magazine provided exclusive word from Ed Neumeier that a “continuation” of Orion’s original 1987 sci-fi action satire franchise vehicle, RoboCop, was in development. Fast forward seven months later and now it seems the aforementioned co-writer and producer of the initial Peter Weller-starrer is sticking to his word with further development now publicly attaching Neill Blomkamp to the upcoming revival, RoboCop Returns.
Anarchy reigns and the fate of Detroit hangs in the balance as RoboCop makes his triumphant return to fight crime and corruption.
The news comes four years after Jose Padilha arrived with his own reboot of the iconic crime fighting franchise starring Joel Kinnaman as a cop once deceased then subsequently rebirthed with select cybernetic parts and a second chance at avenging his murder. Paul Verhoeven paved the way for the fandom with the 1980s R-rated OTT action movie favorite before handing the sequel and family-friendly threequel reigns to Irvin Kershner and Fred Dekker, respectively.
Blomkamp sounds like the right fit for this kind of film as well; His visual, gritty style and cult appeal earned by prolific sci-fi efforts such as District 9, Elysium and Chappie, and the body of work reaping his creative seeds at Oats Studios in the past year have all but emboldened his following next to the support he garnered upon sharing his vision on social media for a hopeful Alien sequel that would follow the Marine-heavy 1986 space thriller featuring Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn.
As Fleming Jr. notes:
Blomkamp jumped at the chance to do a RoboCop that harkens back to and picks up the story line from the original film. His own films have highlighted themes like immigration, exclusion and the haves and have nots, and while RoboCop — made in the Reagan era and focused on corporate greed — a different part of the original story has become most important to him.
RoboCop Returns is housed at MGM with Justin Rhodes following up with his own version of a script by Neumier and RoboCop scribe Michael Miner that was intended for a sequel of their own but never came to pass. Neumier is producing with Miner executive producing and with MGM executive VP Adam Rosenberg overseeing for the studio.
“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 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. 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.”
Fleming Jr.’s report suggests the original sequel script never advanced on camera due to Verhoeven’s disinterest in politics, followed by the writers’ strike in 1988, and ultimately being “force majeured off the project” before Frank Miller was brought aboard and ultimately leaving off with what fans currently know as RoboCop 2.
The report continues with a highlight that notes things eventually sprung back around twenty-eight years later on the eve of the 2016 presidential election when Neumeier got a call from MGM president Jon Glickman.
“Right when Trump was about to be elected president he called me and said, ‘Did you actually predict in your sequel script that a reality star would run for president and win?’ We had. So Mike and I wrote a draft and gave one interview in Barbados and I think the only person who read it was Neill Blomkamp, and that set this in motion.”
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.