WARNING: Major spoilers for The Predator throughout.
The Predator's reshoots completely changed the movie, with Fox totally rewriting Shane Black's original plan for the film. Characters were removed entirely, others had their personalities and deaths completely altered, multiple Predator variants and hybrids were cut, and a whole new ending was introduced. Here, we're going to try and break down how such a mess came to be.
Even before reshoots, The Predator's journey to the screen was already a strange one; its release date slowly shuffled around from an early 2018 release to its current September 2018 date and a trailer not releasing until May. There were rumblings that something wasn't right - a leaked plot synopsis caused a lot of fan backlash - and then around when the film had originally been set to release, it was reported there would be reshoots over a two-and-a-half week stretch from March 12th to March 29th. The cast and crew were rather open about this, stating that it involved changes to the third act, but then, in July, there was a second, two-day bout of reshoots to further tighten up the film.
Reshoots aren't an inherently bad thing - they come from a film not being complete in the edit - and it must be said that The Predator's weren't any longer than the likes of Thor: Ragnarok. However, they came accompanied by rumors the studio and director had clashed over the story and tone, withmajor aspects of the film had been removed entirely. It slowly emerged that this wasn't a case of fixing up the movie, but about retroactively changing it.
Again, this approach needn't be a death sentence - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had third-act changing reshoots and is regarded by many as the peak of Disney Star Wars - but with The Predator, it most certainly was. The film is hastily edited and frenetically paced in a bid to hide the illogicies created by the new footage, but all that does is bury any hope of a worthy sequel. The resulting film is plainly a muddle, although the impact of the behind-the-scenes meddling is perhaps not as utterly damaging as with Fantastic Four or Justice League, which in turn means there are no obvious reshoot hallmarks akin to Henry Cavill's mustache.
However, using early plot leaks, reports on what was cut and changed, and footage from the trailers not in the film, we can get a good idea of what Shane Black's The Predator was going to be - and what Fox turned it into.
- This Page: All The Other Creatures Cut From The Predator
- Page 2: How Reshoots Changed The Predator's Characters (And Mental Illness Parallels)
- Page 3: How The Predator's Third Act & Ending Changed In Reshoots
- Page 4: Were The Predator's Reshoots Worth It?
A Whole Sequence With Good Guy Predators Was Cut
The earliest set photos for The Predator showed the cast of loonies on an APC tank, alongside a pair of classic, good guy Predators in camo armor. What's so striking about this now is that this sequence absolutely does not fit into the movie playing in theaters. Some footage did appear in the first two trailers, but even that doesn't really line up with what we've got.
A Reddit post from 2017, seemingly based on the leaked script, may provide some clarification. A lot of the included plot details are accurate to the finished movie from a time before such details were public knowledge, making it verifiable and the deviations most likely a product of subsequent changes. It is from the script, so not everything will have been shot, but it gives a sense of the ideas Black and co-screenwriter Fred Dekker were playing with. In reference to these scenes, it says that there are two defector Predators being held in Area 51 who team up with the loonies in a bid to stop the Ultimate Predator. The leak places the scene at the start of the third act, after the Predators' true extinction plot but before the loonies head to the Predator ship (known as "the Ark").
These set photos got a mixed fan reaction and, given no allusion to any other good Predators on Earth remain, was evidently something the studio or director wanted out of The Predator entirely. Speaking to Yahoo, Black talked about how it was simple one antagonistic thread too many: in the finished version, the single classic Predator is killed the moment the Ultimate Predator makes its appearance, which may be an attempt to keep the focus on one alien antagonist. Whatever the motivation, this reveals a lot about the connective tissue of the reshoots: there's an entire sequence missing, meaning a lot of surrounding was footage cut and replaced.
Also of note, these photos also show what appears to be Keegan Michael-Key in scarred makeup, suggesting that he was originally going to be killed in this scene, much earlier than in the finished film.
Another Sequence With Predator Hybrids Was Also Cut
As released, The Predator features three different alien creatures: the renegade Predator (aka the original creature), the Ultimate Predator, and his Hell-Hounds. Earlier versions of the story, however, had many, many more.
From that previous script leak, there was apparently going to be a sequence when the characters closed in on The Ark where the Upgrade version would unleash a cacophony of various Predator hybrids: previous attempts at evolution that went wrong, including Predators with two, three and four limbs, tentacles and other twists on the mandibled monster. They were eventually defeated by the heroes taking advantage of fortuitous self-destruct collars.
Our set visit teased and other reports backed up these hybrids being in one earlier cut of the film (meaning they made it past the script phase), but as with the hero Predators, any trace of them is removed in the finished movie. From the leak, it would seem this sequence came after the APC chase, ending with the characters flying away in the Predator ship (instead of it being blown up). This was then followed by the fight on and subsequent crash of the Ultimate Predator's craft, suggesting that this was replaced by the more conventional Ultimate Predator hunt in the woods.
Connections To Earlier Predator Films Were Added
One thing that The Predator does in spades are references to previous movies. The events of 1987 (Predator) and 1997 (Predator 2) are mentioned, Olivia Munn's Casey Bracket is shown still footage from both original movies, the spears from both Predator 2 and Alien vs. Predator appear, and Jake Busey plays the son of Predator 2's Keyes (Black has said Predators is set afterwards, excusing its absence). While some of these were evidently part of the film from the start - Busey was cast in March 2017 - reports suggest at least some were late changes.
According to reports in July 2018, the AvP spear and archive footage were both added by the reshoots to provide some obvious fan bait to the Predator history lesson. It's also possible that some of the other tongue-in-cheek gags are reshoots: the "get to the choppers" line in the earlier leaks was in reference to an actual helicopter, while the bikes definitely look like CGI additions.
- The Predator (2018) release date: Sep 14, 2018