Hollywood studios certainly appear to be rebooting/relaunching more established properties than ever right now, though it has become increasingly popular in recent years for studios to revive franchises by way of a “soft reboot”: a franchise project that doesn’t fully break continuity from its predecessors, yet at the same time clears the table enough so that future installments won’t need to continue referencing the events in past films in the series.
Jurassic World is easily the most commercially-successful “soft reboot” in recent memory, having paved the way for a followup in 2018 that should feel more like Jurassic World 2, rather than Jurassic Park 5. Similarly, writer/director Shane Black (Iron Man 3) is currently developing a new Predator movie that will not completely wipe the slate clean on the sci-fi/action franchise; instead, the plan appears to be to give the series a breath of fresh air.
Longtime Predator franchise producer John Davis spoke with Collider during the 2015 TCA (Television Critics Association) press tour, where David provided the following update on the Predator film that Black (who appeared in the original 1987 Predator movie and even helped with the story development process during production) is co-writing with his frequent collaborator Fred Dekker:
“Shane shot a movie and he’s doing a pilot now, but I’ve read a lot of his [‘Predator’] script and I think it’s genius. I think it’s genius and I think it’s entertaining, and what it did is recreate a famous franchise in a different, interesting way; looking at it from a different light. He’s just an amazing writer-director. He’s got a way of looking at this that makes you excited again…”
Black previously clarified that his and Dekker are not working on a “hard reboot” of the Predator series, but rather an “inventive sequel” that draws from established Predator mythology. The 1990 film sequel Predator 2 revealed that the history of the eponymous aliens hunting humans on Earth goes far beyond the events in the original 1987 Predator movie (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger). Thus, it’s certainly possible that Black’s film will further explore that specific aspect of the series mythos – as a means for painting the Predator movie franchise “from a different light,” as Davis worded it.
2010 film Predators took place on a foreign planet that serves as a game reserve for Predator tribes to hunt the deadliest humans they can find; Black’s movie could mix things up by having the Earth serve as such a ‘game reserve’ instead, while at the same time also delving deeper into the tribal war within the Predator population (as was introduced in Predators). It seems reasonable to think that Predator 2 and Predators will be the main sources of inspiration for Black and Dekker, while releases like the Alien vs. Predator crossovers will be ignored (like how 2015 film releases like Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys by and large overlooked the more poorly-received franchises installments before them).
Black is currently in post-production on his 1970s detective thriller The Nice Guys (scheduled to arrive in May 2016), but it’s not clear yet if his next project will be the untitled Predator film or another movie he’s long been attached to (see: Doc Savage). However, it sounds like Predator is the top priority for Black now, judging by the hype that Davis is now building for the film, with quotes like the following:
“Shane’s got a writing partner, Fred Dekker. They’ve been doing it together and Fred’s great. The two of them together, they’ve been in the business for a long time, but the writing is so fresh, the perspective is so fresh. I’m telling you you’re going to get something you don’t expect and you’re going to say, ‘This is the most entertaining way to reinvent a franchise.’ I mean he’s the guy who wrote Iron Man 3.”
Sidestepping the issue of Iron Man 3 (a superhero film that’s somewhat divisive among hardcore comic book movie fans), another possibility that is that Black’s Predator film will have buddy genre elements, as most of his films in the past have (be they Iron Man 3, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and/or Lethal Weapon). That doesn’t necessarily mean, say, the movie’s human protagonist is going to team up with a Predator creature (a la AvP), but there could be buddy twist on Predator in Black’s project, to help “reinvent” the property. Like Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming Alien 5, it also depends on which parts of the series’ history Black and Dekker use… and which ones they ignore.
We’ll bring you more information on Shane Black’s Predator film as it becomes available.