Writer/director Shane Black costarred in the original Predator film, back in 1987 – and now, Black is developing a fresh installment in the sci-fi/action franchise, currently known as The Predator. Plot details for Black’s take on the Predator series remain firmly under-wraps for the time being, though Black has established that the project will be an “inventive sequel” rather than a hard reboot of the property – which is to say, it should be more along the line of a “soft reboot” in the vein of Jurassic World and/or a “re-imagining” featuring modern production values (similar to Mad Max: Fury Road).
Black’s latest comments about The Predator suggest that the comparison to Fury Road is perhaps the most appropriate to make here. Indeed, much like George Miller had a proper big-budget to draw from when he revisited the Mad Max universe (a place that he had created more than thirty years earlier) while making Fury Road, Black says that The Predator will be a large-scale production as well as an “event film” on the level with his Marvel Studios movie, Iron Man 3, rather than the previous, more modestly-budgeted Predator series installments.
Thrillist (h/t Collider) spoke with Black about his upcoming movie The Nice Guy following the release of the latest trailer for the 1970s-set action/comedy – and during the course of their interview, Black explained how 20th Century Fox convinced him to take charge of the Predator franchise movie forward, even though he freely admitted to not having been overly impressed with certain previous installments in the series (the Alien vs. Predator movies, in particular):
They called me and I was reluctant. I said, “Look. You guys at Fox, I mean, I enjoy these movies, but we’ve been churning out these AVP whatever, they each cost a certain amount of money, they’re okay, but there’s no effort to elevate them or make them any kind of an event.” They’re just sort of another Predator. “Oh, there’s another one that came out.” They said, “What if we said to you we want to reinvent this, and really treat it with as much of an event status, or as much hoopla as we would the Alien prequel, which is coming out also? We really want to make this something. The kind of movie that people line up for.” I said, “Really, you’ll spend a bunch of money?” They go, “Yep.” I go, “Make it really scale, spectacle?” “Yep.” “S***, that sounds interesting.”
Fox is now doubling down on both the Predator and Alien film franchises, what with Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant (a sequel to Scott’s Alien prequel/spinoff, Prometheus) and Black’s The Predator both being in the pipeline for theatrical release in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Covenant is officially described by Fox as being the second chapter in a full-blown Alien prequel movie trilogy (possibly a tetralogy if you believe Scott) that will be on the same scale as the $130 million Prometheus, while Black’s latest comments confirm that Fox has similar plans for The Predator – including, no doubt, hopes for at least one or two followups. That would be a change of pace for the Predator movie franchise, seeing as the previous installments were more of the lean and mean survival action/thriller variety, in scale and cost alike; even the crossover “event” of Alien vs. Predator was budgeted at a relatively modest $60 million.
Black, for his part, feels that in order for the Predator mythology (or “brand,” whichever term you prefer) to continue evolving and keep up with the times, it should go the way of an Iron Man 3-style blockbuster instead:
I think the first one was great, and it was contained, and it was a perfect little gem for what it was. I think there’s an expansion that needs to take place, and also just a love for that era, that movie, and the mythology of the Predator. I think that they came to me knowing pretty much that… they said, basically, if I wanted to make Predator but treat it like it was Iron Man III instead of just another little movie. I said, “Let’s really do it right this time.”
The Predator producer John Davis has alluded to the idea that Black’s project will ‘reinvent’ the Predator franchise in the past, and Black’s latest comments have now shed more light on exactly what Davis meant. Truth be told, though, Black has a point about the Predator series needing an “expansion,” seeing as mid-range projects (like the Predator movies past) are becoming a relic of the past when it comes to Hollywood franchise fare; in the current environment, if a franchise that’s not called Deadpool is active right now, then it’s probably going bigger on every level. Projects such as Mad Max: Fury Road and Black’s Iron Man 3 illustrate how a director’s creative vision and voice can shine through even on a big-budget feature too, so if Black can follow his own example with The Predator then it would show that he had the right idea about how to ‘reinvent’ the Predator series in the first place.
The Predator opens in U.S. theaters on March 2nd, 2018.