Shane Black and Fred Dekker’s original draft for The Predator reveals a lot changed between page and screen - but what are some of the major differences? Even if viewers went into the theatrical cut of The Predator without knowledge of its major production troubles, it was clear something about the movie was off. The editing was very choppy and abrupt, to the point where a major character dies in the finale and some audience members miss it entirely. It also ends on a Predator Killer sequel teases that feels like it belongs to a different movie.
That’s not to say the film is without its charms. The Predator has a great cast and The Loonies are easily the best team in the series since the original film. Director Shane Black’s skill with action and comedy is still intact, it introduces intriguing concepts like the Predators upgrading their skills and there were plenty of shout-outs to the previous movies like the addition of Sean Keyes, son of Predator 2’s Peter. There’s plenty to like about The Predator, which is part of what makes its faults so irritating. There’s a potentially great movie in there that’s let down by a fractured narrative and weak third act showdown.
The Predator joins the ranks of recent blockbusters like Justice League and Fantastic Four that underwent extensive reshoots and re-editing after filming. The movie went back for three weeks' worth of additional photography in March 2018 to film a different climax and then went back again a few months before release to shoot three different sequel teases. Much of the storyline was altered too, with the Fugitive Predator’s motive being changed and the removal of a huge battle sequence with hybrid creatures in the finale. Pieces of this original version are still visible in the movie itself but they don’t fit together anymore.
One of Shane Black and co-writer Fred Dekker’s early drafts (via AVP Galaxy) has recently made its way online and makes for a fascinating insight into what the movie originally looked like. Let’s look at how different The Predator could have been and find out if the original version was better than the end product.
- This Page: The Predator Script Explains Unanswered Questions
- Page 2: How The Predator's Ending Was Changed
The Predator Script Explains A Lot Of Unanswered Questions & Weird Moments
It should be noted every single movie – especially blockbusters – go through myriad changes from the shooting script to the big screen. Sequences and characters are cut or condensed due to budgets or schedules, and narrative arcs can completely change. The Predator is no different in that regard, but in this case, a lot of what’s found in the script was actually filmed; it was in editing the movie was reshaped. Most of the differences are reserved for the final third, but there plenty of changes in the first two acts also, some with pretty big impacts.
The original opening found the Fugitive – dubbed the “Good” Predator – hijacking a vessel called The Ark from a Predator mothership and heading to Earth. Just like the movie, the ship crashes during the middle of McKenna's (Boyd Holbrook) mission to save hostages in Cuba. Instead of a random roadside exchange, however, this scene takes place in front of an opulent drug dealer's mansion. This mansion is later destroyed by Project Stargazer helicopters when they arrive to capture the Fugitive, killing any potential witnesses. McKenna is later taken into custody by Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) after sending the Predator mask to America.
McKenna’s autistic son Rory gets the same introduction in The Predator script and movie, but instead of just verbal taunts, the bullies who find him cowering in class due to the fire alarms also kick him while he’s down (his later showdown with them also takes place outside a bar, not a house). The introduction to The Loonies is similar to the theatrical cut, but Lynch (Alfie Allen) is missing and there’s a character called Flyboy instead. Outside of Nebraska Williams (Trevante Rhodes), the group isn’t well defined in The Predator script, suggesting the cast brought a lot to their roles once they came on board. Casey Bracket's (Olivia Munn) missing introduction, where she’s hit on and rebuffs a jogger while walking her dog, is also in the script.
Conspicuously missing from The Predator script is Sean Keyes, with his role and dialogue assigned to another scientist named Colwell (he doesn’t fare well - the Fugitive cuts off his head and hand to use on scanners during his escape). Also cut was Casey realizing the Predator wanted to be captured so it would be taken to a location with weapons and equipment, and it played possum the whole time.
Several other logic gaps caused by bad editing are cleared up: The Loonies get their weapons from Cutter, a wheelchair-bound ex-marine living in a Winnebago; he’s introduced watching To Catch A Predator on TV and later joins the gang (explaining where the truck came from); and Nebraska’s magically appearing cop car was actually stolen from a rookie who pointed a gun at Rory following the explosion.
Perhaps most interestingly, the Fugitive Predator briefly talks during the McKenna confrontation, warning the group to run since the Upgrade is coming. It arrives and swiftly rips the Fugitive apart, before giving chase to the Winnebago with terrifying speed. It's only when McKenna rips The Kujhad - The Ark control device – from Rory’s hand and throw it away that it backs off.