RoboCop Is Being Rebooted Again

As much as cinema-goers might complain that they’re bored of seeing reboots of old movies rather than new ideas, Hollywood studios are going to keep making reboots so long as people carry on paying to go and see them. Somewhere between five and ten years ago, it felt like we’d seen reboots or re-imaginings of just about every classic film it was possible to re-boot or re-imagine, and we began to wonder what was next. Now, it seems we have our answer. After being rebooted just six years ago with a 2014 movie, classic science-fiction-meets-action-movie franchise ‘RoboCop’ is going to be rebooted all over again.

The question of how many films or TV series there have been in ‘RoboCop’ lure already is hard to answer. It depends on whether you want to focus on feature films that made it to the cinemas, or you also want to include the movies that went directly to video. Should the animated series be counted, or the two live-action Canadian television series that were made off the back of the fame of the original movie? This is clearly a question that the producers of the new film struggled with, because they’ve made a decision that’s bound to delight and dismay fans in equal measure – it’s going to be a direct sequel to the very first film from 1987. Nothing else that’s happened since is going to be taken into account.

Based on this decision, it appears that the new origin story and new continuity established by the 2014 reboot is null and void. Had that movie been more successful, a sequel would have been ordered and made, but plans for a sequel to be released in 2018 were abandoned when the film failed to excite critics or film followers. It generated a small profit at the box office and attracted reserved praise from some reviewers, but the general impression it left was one of trying to ape all the things that made the 1980s film such a success without every truly managing to capture the zeitgeist. Sadly for those of you who did enjoy that film and would have liked to see more, it appears that the world it created is gone for good.

In truth, for a franchise that gets so much attention and adulation, ‘RoboCop’ is little more than one good film and a series of failed sequels. The original was a huge hit, inspiring a toy range, video games, and even an official game at online slots websites two decades after its release. It’s probably telling that the official ‘RoboCop’ slots is based on that 1980s original, and not the far more recent 2014 version. It’s also a little ironic that the online slots game has almost certainly made more money than the sequels ever did. ‘RoboCop 2,’ released in 1990, barely broke even at the box office. ‘RoboCop 3,’ released three years later in 1993, was a box office bomb that stalled the franchise for more than twenty years. Even now, with a studio as large as MGM committed to the project and a pledge to cut away the fat from the story and go back to the start, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to make money.

Given the fact that MGM will presumably throw a lot of money at this production, they’re going to need some capable hands at the helm and a cast and crew who are capable of nurturing the tale from script to screen. To that end, they’ve hired director Abe Forsythe of ‘Little Monsters’ fame to sit in the chair. Forsythe is still a comparatively young director seeking to establish his name and reputation in Hollywood circles, but many studios have been impressed by what he was able to accomplish on a modest budget with ‘Little Monsters.’ The new RoboCop film – which is tentatively titled ‘RoboCop Returns,’ but will almost certainly be given a better name than that further down the line – will be his biggest-budget project to date.

If the Hollywood Reporter’s sources are to be believed, then the connection between this film and the original ‘RoboCop’ movie will be more than just skin (or steel) deep. Michael Milner and Edward Neumeier – the writers of the very first script and therefore the creators of the ‘RoboCop’ character – have signed up to produce the new film. They fulfilled a similar role on the set of the 2014 film too – so this doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t deviate from aspects of their past creation. As fans have already been promised that the original ‘RoboCop’ suit will be used in this new story, there will presumably be a greater focus on authenticity and faithfulness to the text on this occasion. Ir’s understood that the script was actually written several years ago and was originally to be shot in 2018 with Neill Blomkamp directing, but Blomkamp dropped out of the project, and it entered the dreaded ‘Development Hell’ for a further two years. 

While it’s too early to predict what the plot might involve, or who might be cast in the lead role, the idea of following on from the original tale more than thirty years later makes it possible for Peter Weller to return to the iconic character that he played in the first two films. Weller, in his 70s, is still acting and still involved in both movies and television, and the idea of a much-older ‘RoboCop’ facing the end of his mechanical life and retirement is potentially compelling. It would be a bold choice for the production to go with after such a long time, but if the purpose of the film is to appeal to fans of the original, it would likely please them. As and when we hear more about the film in the months to come, we’ll be sure to bring you casting information and any other news or gossip we can find on the subject.

No matter how many years have passed, there’s always space in Hollywood for a hero who fights on the side of law and order – and we’re excited to see new life being breathed into ‘RoboCop’ after what feels like a very long time. Let’s hope that this new film succeeds in a way that every film since the very first one has failed to!

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