Neill Blomkamp is no longer working on the sequel RoboCop Returns, having turned his attention to a new horror-thriller project instead. The filmmaker behind District 9, Elysium, and Chappie has long been compared to RoboCop (1987) director Paul Verhoeven, given their shared inclination for making ultra-violent sci-fi action movies that double as scathing social satires. For that reason, it made perfect sense when Blomkamp was announced to direct an R-rated continuation of Verhoeven's original film in July 2018.
Written by Justin Rhodes (Terminator: Dark Fate) based on an earlier draft by RoboCop (1987) writers Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, RoboCop Returns is said to function as a direct followup to Verhoeven's classic that ignores the previous sequels and 2014 reboot, in the same way last year's Halloween did for that franchise. Blomkamp only confirmed the original RoboCop suit for the film this past June, but is now off the project altogether.
In an update posted to his Twitter account, Blomkamp confirmed he's "off" RoboCop Returns, saying he's getting to work on a new horror-thriller and MGM "can't wait/need" to shoot the RoboCop sequel before he's available again. If the filmmaker has any hard feelings about the situation then he didn't show them in his tweet, adding he's "excited to watch [RoboCop Returns] in theaters with other fans". A search for Blomkamp's replacement is presumably already underway.
This isn't the first time Blomkamp's come close to directing a revival-continuation of a beloved sci-fi property, either. He previously developed an Alien sequel for Fox that, similar to RoboCop Returns, would've essentially served as a direct continuation of Aliens and ignored the last two sequels in the series (Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection). In that case, the project was ultimately shelved in favor of continuing Ridley Scott's prequel trilogy - which began with Prometheus and is still a work in progress - instead. Blomkamp has since left the movie firmly in his rearview mirror, as he's reiterated many times over by now.
No doubt, many felt Blomkamp fit the RoboCop franchise like a glove and were excited to see him return the series to its R-rated satirical roots after the 2014 reboot (which was PG-13 and played down its political commentary in favor of more existential themes). On the other hand, the director has long preferred to play in his own sandboxes and continued to develop original short films through his production company, Oats Studios, in the years since his last feature effort with Chappie. Perhaps it's best, then, he's passing on RoboCop Returns and fully channeling his creative energies into this mysterious horror-thriller he's got in the pipeline.
Source: Neill Blomkamp