As a screenwriter, Shane Black made his mark with buddy-cop classic Lethal Weapon. As a director, he blazed onto the scene with the blissfully bonkers Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and followed up with hugely successful Iron Man 3. Next, this bold auteur has his sites set on resuscitating the flailing Predator franchise.
Screen Rant sat down with Black to talk about The Nice Guys, his latest buddy-cop action-comedy which boasts Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as its leading men. We’ll be brining you the full interview next week, but couldn’t wait to share some of the promising details this whip-sharp writer/director dropped about The Predator.
Black had previously promised fans he wouldn’t soften his profanity-laden brand of banter or his love of graphic violence in the tantalizing sequel. He told us, “I made it a condition of directing The Predator that it has to be the same rating as the first one, which was R. We probably could have gotten more money to do it as PG-13. But I actually think that although that seems like good logic, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. I don’t think the fans want a PG-13 Predator.”
Helping urge Fox to take the chance on Black’s R-rated Predator pitch was a pair of wildly successful superhero movies. First off, the $1.3 billion Iron Man 3 made worldwide gave Black some serious cachet. “Iron Man 3 bought me a lot,” Black shared. “It opened up a few doors. Like, ‘You’d presided over or at least seen what it’s like to make a summer tent pole. You understand what it’s like to show up every day to work and it’s just green screen everywhere.’…We got to join a club that’s fairly exclusive. And it was probably there for us anyway because it’s Marvel: It’s the Billion Dollar Club. And once you do that, people take you more seriously and as someone who might concoct a similarly effective summer movie.”
Black pointed out that Fox’s success with the R-rated Deadpool was a game-changer, disproving the conventional wisdom that an action movie needed to be PG-13 to pull in big bank. “Before Deadpool everyone was saying exactly the opposite,” Shane explained. “It’s only been recently that this sort of thing has become more palatable to the decision makers.”
So what does all this mean for The Predator? Black won’t be pulling any punches. But more than that, he and screenwriting partner Fred Dekker are asking, “What was powerful and interesting (about Predator to begin with)? It’s the challenge. How would you shake it up? How do you make a Predator movie that doesn’t feel like just an episode of the Predator? But it’s more a prelude to something. It’s difference of writing an episode of The Planet of the Apes television show that they had in the ’70s and actually doing the new Apes movies that they’re doing now (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), where they are completely re-invigorating that franchise.”
Black stressed it’s important to capture “the spirit” of the original and its ’80s adventure sensibility in The Predator. “We look for the things that were exciting to us as opposed to just copying the hardware,” he said of his and Dekker’s approach. “We need to re-invigorate and refresh that so that it gets to that level of excitement again where people want to treat it like an event.”
“That’s what the goal is here,” Black emphasized, “To take the Predator from a sort of knock-off version that gets a certain amount of money every few years to one that’s more eventized, that you would get your tickets for it months in advance, actually know it’s coming, and say, ‘Yeah, let’s line up and see that.’”
The Predator hits theaters March 2, 2018.