Josh Zetumer Hired to Write ‘RoboCop’ Reboot

Published 4 years ago by

robocop reboot writer Josh Zetumer Hired to Write RoboCop Reboot
RoboCop was ahead of its time in 1987, but MGM has decided to replace Paul Verhoeven’s landmark sci-fi film with a newer model. A reboot of the beloved property has been in the cards for several years, but the project really seemed to pick up traction once Darren Aronofsky began circling it. However, the studio’s well-publicized bankruptcy woes ultimately crippled that version of the material.

MGM’s financial troubles may finally be behind them, but they’re still in a very critical stage when it comes to rebuilding their company. The hope is that established brands with built-in audiences will help resuscitate the studio and put it firmly back on its feet. So like it or not, the RoboCop reboot has escaped development hell and is now on the fast track.

Although Aronofsky was reportedly still interested in directing the film at some point, MGM decided they didn’t want to wait for him. Earlier this month, they handed the reigns over to Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha instead. Rather than use the previous script by David Self (Road to Perdition, Old Man’s War), it was announced that Padilha would be searching for a new screenwriter to collaborate with.

According to Deadline, Josh Zetumer just landed the job. Don’t bother looking him up on IMDb, because he doesn’t have any produced credits to his name. So how exactly did a seemingly novice writer fall into a project as important as the RoboCop reboot?

You and I may have no idea who Zetumer is, but his star is rising within the industry. Every year, development executives and high-level assistants rank the best unproduced screenplays that they’ve read and the result is something known as “The Black List.” Scripts that have previously appeared on it include The Social Network, 47 Ronin, and Safe House.

In 2006, Zetumer’s script Infiltrator made the list and the project is currently set up at Warner Bros. with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star. He also wrote several drafts for Peter Berg’s aborted Dune remake and took a shot at the fourth Jason Bourne movie before it was re-imagined as more of a spin-off.

robocop 3 ninja Josh Zetumer Hired to Write RoboCop Reboot

At least the 'RoboCop' reboot won't have robot ninjas. Probably.

It was important to Padilha that he be allowed to work very closely with whoever was chosen to write the RoboCop reboot. To me, that indicates two things: 1) Padilha already has strong and specific ideas for the film and 2) Zetumer’s sensibilities are very much in line with his own.

Zetumer’s Infiltrator script is a thriller about British intelligence operatives being placed inside the IRA to help thwart terrorist activities. Coupled with his efforts on the unmade Bourne film, he sounds like a logical match for Padilha, whose Elite Squad movies are also smart action films with a political bend.

It seems to me that their RoboCop reboot is likely going to take a gritty, no-nonsense approach. I haven’t been shy about my feelings regarding this project, but Padilha is a very competent director and I’m sure he’s found a completely different connection to this material than Verhoeven did. Honestly, I think that’s really the only way to go. They’ll never survive comparisons to the original film, so the best thing to do is craft something that’s significantly removed from the previous incarnation.

I love the original RoboCop, but I’ve always felt that it was a very average script that was elevated by rather brilliant filmmaking. So for me personally, I don’t think Zetumer has as arduous a task ahead of him as Padilha does.

Source: Deadline.

TAGS: Robocop
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  1. I’m in…big fan back in the day. Does anybody else remember the cartoon and the toys? Cool.

    • “Dead or alive…you’re coming with me”.

      • Ive always wanted Barack Obama to say that line. LOL!

        • “Nice shooting. What’s your name, son?”


          • Actually, the name is not Barry but Murphy. =)

  2. Im a big fan myself till this day. I got films 1-3, Robocop The Series dvd set. Even got few Robocop toys still, & one episode of Robocop Alpha Commando taped on vhs. I loved the first film & enjoyed the 2nd film & little bit of the 3rd. I didn’t care for the Prime Directive dvd movies.

    Robocop: Maam, you recieved a emotional shock. I will notify a red crisis center. lol.

    • lol…good line…

    • It’s more like “Madam, you have suffered am emotional shock. I will notify a rape crisis center”

      • @ Anthony

        I meant to say Madam. Im pretty sure he said Red crisis center. oh well, one of the best scenes in the film.

        • No he didn’t, it was rape. Considering she was in the process of being raped. I heard it loud and clear both in the theater and on my Crierion DVD lol.

          • Anthony is correct.


          • I second what Anthony has said.

            Those street vermin were cutting up her clothes, and one even made a crude reference to her groin area.

            Then, Robocop shoots him right where he deserved it. :)

            It’s amusing how she runs up to him, holds him — all shocked, sad, distressed — and he responds in a robotic monotone, completely devoid of emotion. She stops crying, moves back a little and just stares at him as if to say, “What are you?”

  3. I don’t care who they get; remaking this is dumb. Just do a sequel! Even better, forget about the 2nd sequel and work from the first sequel.

    • I agree Kahless, there’s no reason why they just can’t do a sequel to reboot the franchise ala Tron Legacy or Predators. Start again without denying what came before, that’s the beauty of sci-fi. They could restart the Robocop project back up.
      This is one of the few reboots that I’m looking forward to (the aforementioned films being the others). But please, if it’s to be a cyborg then let it be a man in a suit rather than a CGI creation. That’s what humanised Murphy in all it’s original verions. An actual suit built for the movie.

      • Basically same difference there still ripping off the basic idea

        • Remakes tell the same sroy with the smae charachters and it ofers a new take on the story.
          A reboot, is redoing in almost entirely – just keeping the same general plot.

          • A ‘remake’ and ‘reboot’ are two peas in the same frickin pod

            • Along with outdated sequels and bad adaptations of good tv shows

            • So.. you’re saying Batman Begins was basically a remake?

              • Yes

                • I hardly wait to see the movie!I’m a big fan of Robocop!
                  And why not continue the season episodes!
                  Think about these!
                  I should like to see Robocop reborning,because nowadays
                  kids doesn’t now only about computer-games,and pitily they forgot about Robo!
                  Pls. make something new and creative,and ask kids how they wolud like to inproove Robo’s immage.

  4. Average script? The original had some of the best satire since Dr. Strangelove. Here’s hoping the reboot doesn’t forget that aspect and go with a strait-up, mindless action flick. Nevertheless, it has a good chance of ending up in the discount bin at Wal-Mart.

    “I’d buy that for a dollar!”

    • Padilha has made two incredibly effective action films that are anything but mindless. I still don’t like the idea of rebooting this, but they didn’t get some flash in the pan music video director. This guy is the real deal.

      I know working in Hollywood is a whole new ballgame for a foreign director, but the original RoboCop was one of Verhoeven’s first English-speaking films.

      As for the satire, it’s a HUGE reason the original works as well as it does and honestly, I think it’d be foolish to try and duplicate it. Like I said, I think the best strategy here is to find a new way of looking at this concept and do something vastly different than the original. Make the comparison apples and oranges.

      The satire certainly helped elevate the original to something more than a run of the mill sci-fi/action film, but I really feel that they need to find another hook for the reboot to work as successfully as it can. Padilha doesn’t seem like the kind of director who’s going to ape someone else’s style.

      • Fair enough, Chris. Can’t say I’m familiar with this director’s work, but I’ll take your word for it. And you’re probably right about the satire aspect. Unless they could get a writer who’s comfortable with that sort of material, it may be best not to try it.

        As long as they get the heart of the character (a cop named Murphy), they should do well.

    • @Mike, yes, if any reboot is stripped of the satire and deeper meanings that still resonate (such as what does it mean to be a cyborg, does he still retain his humanity?), it becomes Robocop 2 and 3. A remake will be like Robocops 2 and 3, but with some snazzy, wallet-busting CGI.

      So, your honor, I like to point out to the jury Exhibit A: Robocop, the 1987 movie.

      Exhibit B: Those who want a sequel or remake, refer to Exhibit A

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed the first movie and the fact that it was “R” rated and went over the top to showcase the violence and ramped up cliche’s. The Second was a watered down version, which is what happens when you cut the rating to a “PG-13″, and the third was total crap.

    Basically if they can capture the vibe from the first movie and expand on it they will have a hit.

    • Robocop 2 was rated R last I remember. But I agree the third was garbage. It wasn’t b/c of the rating though, but b/c the story, acting, and characters were bad.

      • Robocop 2 was R

    • The Elite Squad movies that Padilha has made almost guarantee this will be a very hard R. He really is a pretty innovative filmmaker.

    • Yep, the second was indeed an R Ghost I thought everyone knew that guess I was wrong lol. Aleric, again, a little research before you comment lol. I never saw the third one, no need, Weller IS Robocop.

      • I actually enjoyed the second film. It was no way as great as the first, but still good. I did love the final fight with Kane.

        • I liked it a lot too.

  6. I agree with with Kahless aswell about makin a sequel to the previous films. I doubt a reboot with Murphy’s death would be better than the orignal’s. Verhoeven’s original had it tough enough having the death scene cutted down for the film to get a R rating. They should what they did with Superman Returns & Predators and make a sequel atleast take place after Robocop 2.

    • But look where Superman is right now. It’s get a full-blown reboot. I think they should do like the Godzilla series has always done, just act as if the first film only happened.

      • @ Ghost

        Doesn’t really matter anyways imo. One way or the other id say don’t hold your breath whether if they should make a sequel follow-up to the original film cause i doubt Peter Weller will be back for one thing, & Of-course rebooting the franchise. Im skeptical as of now if they can make another great Robocop film cause imo, not even Prime Directive Robocop films were good to me. I wish them luck. But mostly Robocop 1 & 2 will always be my favorites.

  7. as long as ED-209 is back, i think that was the robot that was defeated by… STAIRS!


      • Now that’s classic. Good one sir.

      • @ Kahless

        Lol. I loved ED-209 & Robocop 2′s designs. When ED-209 was lookin down the stairs, it almost sounded like it said OH NO,lol. maybe its just me.



        • And that executive who pointed the gun at ED-209 near the beginning didn’t have to suffer long. 8-)

          • @ Kahless

            That executive kinda looked like he didn’t suffer at all the way he was being shot dead that fast. He didn’t die in vain because it tought us all… If you work for a company & is introduced to a big piece of robot weaponary like ED-209 and ask to volunteer for anything, DON’T DO IT! lol.

  8. Don’t wuss out and go PG-13. Hard R or bust.

    • They’ll go PG-13 or lower because they only care about money. Robocop the product is no different than Stretch Armstrong the product or Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade the product.

      Hollywood is worse than OCP. Ironic that they’re now going to reboot a movie franchise that originally was about a man basically being exploited by a wealthy, powerful corporation who didn’t care one lick about the “dead man” they were using for their pilot program. He was just a cog in the wheel well. They sure know exploitation and dehumanization.

      • Good observation. The meta implications of this would make a fun, self-aware Kaufman/Jonze reboot.

        • Even if lighter in touch than Verhoeven’s version, it must deal with that struggle within Robocop. The sequels didn’t and they suffered for it.

          It was that struggle (a person who’s both man and machine, but a corporate pawn) and the movie’s satirical wit when it came to corporate callousness (still love those newscasts and the nuclear-battle board game that the whole family can play) that drive the movie.

          I could say the same for the Batman movies — when Batman was stripped of that “darkness” within, we got “Batman & Robin.”

          • You’ve absolutely nailed it. Verhoeven’s awareness of what he was dealing with allowed him to cram so many different ideas and themes together that the movie is really very unique. I only hope the studio recognizes that THIS is the film’s enduring appeal, not the fact that you have a man in a robot suit.

            • He did great in presenting the scummy side of life, with a sly, dark humor.

              I hated those villains, and those villains relished being bad. It’s still shocking to think how they killed Murphy in such brutal fashion — but that brutal scene is necessary. We likely won’t see anything remotely near it in a remake…

              Verhoeven injected great drama (I’m still moved by the flashbacks Murphy has of his “past life”), low-key humor that makes you smirk, bad, heartless villains with sly humor, and — at the risk of sounding repetitive — small, humorous moments amid the sad reality of all the characters, the corrupt corporation in a heartless world that help carry us through.

              The later movies almost felt like cartoons.

              I fear that Hollywood won’t “get” the appeal and special nature of the original Robocop and go all gung-ho on the CGI. Robocop, in many ways, is like a futuristic, cyborg Batman.

    • If I remember correctly, they were originally going to rate the first film as X because of the extreme violence.

  9. If they’re gonna tap this franchise “There will be Blood” style they should at least take off where the second film left off.

    Was there a 3rd film no there wasn’t so just don’t go there. ^
    Explain what happened to Murphy, maybe he went out a heros death. Now we have a similar situation to replace him. A new corporation is in charge, a new drug dealer is on the street, and a new cop is on the beat!

    Drop the 3D and I’ll maybe I’ll see it.

  10. Average script??? What movie were you watching??? Robocop had a great script.

    And just because Padilha’s known for his hard R movies doesn’t mean this one’s going to be gritty. I’m sure he’s very happy to get his multimillion dollar Hollywood deal and will happily compromise the project any way the studios instruct him to, including a PG 13.

    He’s an overrated director anyhow. The Elite Squad movies are a total tribute to the sort of fascist 80s-style movie policing that Robocop was satirizing.

    • I’ve heard that argument before (mainly in regards to the character of Captain Nascimento), but I think it’s dangerously dismissive. I’m not saying that I can’t see what leads some people to that conclusion, but I think there’s more going on in those films.

      Honestly, I think both Elite Squads (for all of their overblown action sequences) have more in common with something like The Wire than a “fascist 80s-style movie”. Particularly the second one.

      And who knows what will ultimately happen here. Like I mentioned above, RoboCop was one of Verhoeven’s first English-speaking films. On the other hand, we saw what happened with Gavin Hood and Wolverine.

      This is really the inherent issue with any remake, reboot, sequel, whatever. It can’t be the same, but it can’t be different either. We can all agree on many of the elements that made Verhoeven’s film so successful. And listen, I’m still not on board with this idea. I try and stay somewhat objective when I’m writing these articles but I had the same kneejerk reaction any RoboCop fan would, which was “LEAVE ROBOCOP ALONE!”

      But the film is coming. Like it or not. So right now, the only encouraging development I have to latch onto it is that this is shaping up to be a completely different take on the concept. And I really think that’s the only way it has a chance of working. So, I’m sorry – I don’t care how the original compares to the filmography of the new director. I don’t want him to try and duplicate the same satire or sense of humor that Verhoeven’s film had. That’s a surefire way to have the reboot fall completely on its face.

      I maintain that they need to find a new way to elevate the material beyond typical sci-fi/action movie trappings. Is that going to be easy? Not at all. Hence my skepticism. But I think it will have more promising results than simply trying to copy every facet of the original film.

      As for the original’s script, “better than average” is probably a more apt description. But I still feel quite strongly that it was Verhoeven’s direction that saved that film.

      • WOLVERINE!!! Now there’s a film that suffered tremendously because of the PG-13 rating. I mean, come on, there was more blood in Scrogged than there was in a movie about a mutant killing machine with blades coming out of his hands!

        And I see your point. I suppose when this does come out, I will try to judge the film on its merits instead of nostalgia.

        • I thought there was a lot more problems with that film than the rating (story, characters, acting, actors, special effects), but I do see what you’re saying.

  11. I wonder if Kane snapped that girl’s neck because he was tired of being called Kaned since he’s a cyborg in Robocop 2.

  12. “Robocop” could take a leap forward, move beyond the construction yard build and rip a page from “Patlabor” and “GITS.” With a more human like machine they delve deeper into the philosophical and get a more emotional connection with the audience. The Zombie like police officer, Zombofficer if you will, was explored in the earlier stories. Why not up the ante and see where that goes?

  13. Soooooooo basically they need someone to watch parts 1 & 2 and convert the dialogue in to modern slang full of references to Lady GaGa and The Black Eyed Peas?

  14. Can Hollywood not come up with any new ideas? I hope that if this remake takes place that they stay with the original plot. Hell I would like to see Clarence Boddicker and his gang back in action.

  15. If it aint broke… don’t fix it….

    I can kinda understand reboots or remakes of crappy movies that had heart, but, this is just greed at it’s finest. How can you improve on a diamond in the rough?


    • They’re going Hollywoodize it.

      They’re going to make it all nice and shiny and sparkly, with a CGI sheen to it, and the mindless masses are going to go “Oooooh, shiny” and eat it all up, tell all their friends about it, and bash anyone who dares criticize it! Maybe. :)

      Any remake will be bigger and louder, but not anywhere near being better.

      • Thanks. Captain Obvious lol.

      • Are we talking about RoboCop or Twilight? :-)

        • The Vamp is Robocop! :P

  16. Padilha seems to have done mostly documentaries. The Elite movies are pretty close to documentaries. So I think this Robocop is going to be very grim and ultra realistic. Hopefully he has some hidden talent for humor and satire or it’s going to be a dud.

  17. @Thandrale, unless this Robocop reboot takes place after Murphy’s law, the films producers can count me out and pissed!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Damn you!!!

    I will see you in hell!! Ok that’s the beer but I’m not too far off,,,,,,,,,

  18. I dont langueg english but Robocop is good.