In news that may be received differently depending on which of the director’s films you’ve seen, Neill Blomkamp—the South African director behind District 9 (2009), Elysium (2013), and popular Twitter punching bag Chappie (2015)—has been tapped to direct a new RoboCop movie for MGM, as Deadline reports.
Your reaction to this news may also depend on how many RoboCop movies you’ve seen: Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 original is rightly considered a modern classic, while the 1990 and 1993 sequels are, let’s say, less so. Meanwhile, the 2014 RoboCop remake starring Joel Kinnaman, while not that bad according to our own A.A. Dowd, didn’t have much of an impact at the domestic box office.
Rather like the upcoming Halloween reboot, this new RoboCop film reportedly ignores everything that came after the original, and is based on a script from original RoboCop writers Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner called RoboCop Returns. That script was originally planned as a sequel to the first film, but was scrapped due to a lack of interest from Verhoeven—“he wasn’t interested in the politics of a sequel,” Neumeier tells Deadline—and the writers’ strike of 1988, which Neumeier says “force majeured” him and Miner off of the project.
RoboCop Returns was later revived by MGM president Jon Glickman, who reportedly called up Neumeier after the 2016 presidential election and asked him, “Did you actually predict in your sequel script that a reality star would run for president and win?.” They had, and so the script was dug out of storage and is currently being rewritten by Justin Rhodes, a relative newcomer who’s also currently working on scripts for a new Terminator movie, a Masters Of The Universe reboot, and a Green Lantern Corps movie.
From what Neumeier tells Deadline, it sounds like Blomkamp was MGM’s first choice to direct the film currently being referred to as RoboCop Returns, which, again, is promising if you frame it as “from the director of District 9” specifically.