MGM began making serious plans to produce a RoboCop series reboot/remake as far back as 2008, but it was one of several titles sideswiped by the studio’s bankruptcy woes in 2010. Since then, the project has landed back on track and now has a firmly-set director (José Padilha) and lead actor (Joel Kinnaman) aboard, along with a tentative Summer 2012 start date for principal photography.

The RoboCop franchise remodeling has taken another big step towards becoming a reality, thanks to Sony Pictures officially signing on to distribute the flick in theaters. RoboCop is just the latest collaboration between Sony and MGM, alongside upcoming titles like this month’s 21 Jump Street and the new James Bond movie Skyfall.

Deadline has confirmed the Sony-MGM deal for RoboCop. The project is also being produced by Strike Entertainment heads Marc Abraham and Eric Newman (Children of Men, The Thing) and will be based on a script devised by promising up-and-comer Josh Zetumer – with revisions reportedly being handled by Nick Schenk (Gran Torino).

José Padilha is at the helm of the 'RoboCop' reboot

Padilha is a native Brazilian filmmaker who’s made a name for himself directing such critically-acclaimed titles as the documentary Bus 174 and the gritty crime thriller/dramas that are his lucrative Elite Squad movies. Most of Padilha’s prior cinematic works have tackled themes of political corruption, social inequality and government-sanctioned violence, all within the context of his home country.

Based on the director’s comments in the past, Padilha plans to address similar ideas in his U.S.-set RoboCop retooling without merely rehashing the same approach taken by director Paul Verhoeven in the original 1987 film. The filmmaker has also expressed an interest in exploring the existential implications of the RoboCop character to a greater degree than Verhoeven did.

MGM’s RoboCop reboot is now expected to be a somewhat lower-budgeted undertaking (even though previous estimates pegged it at $80 million), in part due to Padilha’s approach – which doesn’t exactly lend itself to a fluffy popcorn blockbuster – and also because the new screen incarnation of former human cop-turned-cybornetic corporate product Alex James Murphy isn’t going to be portrayed by a highly-bankable leading man.

Although Kinnaman is an actor whose career is definitely on the rise, the star of AMC’s The Killing is nowhere near the A-list status of previously-rumored candidates like Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, or even Russell Crowe. Not to mention, Kinnaman’s fanbase (while loyal) has not yet reached the levels of the most serious prior contender to headline the film, X-Men: First Class‘ Michael Fassbender.

Joel Kinnaman will become the new RoboCop

That’s all to say: RoboCop isn’t as immediately marketable a new take on a familiar story as this past winter’s MGM/Sony collaboration (David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and it remains a pretty divisive project as far as the wider film geek community is concerned. All that aside, there’s very much potential for something worthwhile to come of all this hullabaloo.

We will continue to keep you up-to-date on the status of the RoboCop reboot as more information is released.

Source: Deadline