Film and TV

RoboCop Writers Say Sequel Will Go Back to Its Roots, Maybe Even Dallas

RoboCop, the image used for the original poster.
RoboCop, the image used for the original poster. AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo

The sequels that followed the first RoboCop to the theaters, including the most recent remake, were meager attempts to capitalize on its success. But they ignored the parts that made it work so well.

Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner, the screenwriters behind the original 1987 hit flick filmed almost entirely in Dallas and directed by Paul Verhoeven, say they wanted to put together a proper sequel that focused on the destructive tendencies of corporate influence on the military-industrial complex as much as the bloody flying special effects and scenes of robots shooting big guns. Orion Pictures even commissioned them to put together a sequel, but the studio's decision to change screenwriters led to the far inferior RoboCop 2.

MGM gave Neumeier and Miner a chance to make the sequel they've wanted to do for the last 30 years, commissioning a script more than six months ago based on their original treatment. Neumeier and Miner say they not only have a script, but they also have a big-name director who's interested in bringing it to the big screen.

Deadline Hollywood reported that director Neill Blomkamp, the sci-fi filmmaker behind movies such as District 9 and Elysium, wants to direct the new sequel, tentatively titled RoboCop Returns. MGM also hired Justin Rhodes, the screenwriter behind the next Terminator film, to rewrite Neumeier and Miner's script. Neumier will work as a producer, and Miner will get an executive producer credit on the new RoboCop film.

"Ed and I never envisioned that over 30 years later, we would be planning the next version of RoboCop," Miner says. "That may prove that the character is as iconic as any of the comic book or graphic novel characters that flood our landscape."

Neumeier says all of these things are encouraging, especially Blomkamp's interest in directing. Blomkamp posted on his Twitter account that he is "very excited about this." 

"The more I think about it," Neumeier says, "the more I think there's nobody but Neill who can do this. I think it's a good creative situation, and I'm not particularly possessive about it, but the greatest feeling I have is somebody cares about this. They're not stupid. They're responsible, and they really want to do something great."

Neumeier says his and Miner's script made the rounds to Hollywood and the world until Blomkamp got a copy and called MGM, which holds the rights to RoboCop since Orion Pictures folded, and insisted that he direct the film.

"Neill was clearly influenced as a young person by RoboCop, and you can't ask for much better," Neumeier says. "He's a talented guy who reminds me of James Cameron as a filmmaker. He's very muscular as a filmmaker, particularly with action, and he's mastered the modern vernacular of special effects, which is very important. I think he's the perfect choice right now to do a proper sequel to RoboCop."

Miner says MGM is also the perfect studio for a new RoboCop movie.

"MGM reminds me a lot of the Orion experience," Miner says. "It's a small studio that's able to pivot more quickly, allowing creative freedom that's not offered by the studio behemoths. That may be the best way to make a new RoboCop film."

The new script focuses on the battles that ensue from police corruption and two corporate rivals sometime in the near future — presumably including the OCP group from the first film that built RoboCop from the remains of a slain Detroit police officer, played by actor Peter Weller. Neumeier says the story's satiric message holds up a perfect mirror to our disruptive age of social media and mass communication systems vulnerable to massive corruption.

"All I can say about this is Neill really wants this movie to look and feel like the first movie." – Ed Neumeier

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"My interest was to look at the world we have now with Google and Facebook competing to create a map of the future," Neumeier says. "Basically I think the idea is we have to be careful with those fellas and the women, too, because they act like they know what they are doing, but they really just want to make money, and that's not always the best thing for everybody."

Neumeier says the team should have a new script in four to six months or and a release date in a year, but nothing is certain in the movie business.

He also notes that bringing Blomkamp on board could also be encouraging news for Dallas although they aren't anywhere close in the process to discussing shooting locations.

"All I can say about this is Neill really wants this movie to look and feel like the first movie," Neumeier says. "He really does, and I think he can do it. So if Neill really wants it to look like the first one and it needs to be shot in Dallas, I'm sure he will do that, but it's way too soon."

No matter the movie is shot, Neumeier says, the chances are good for a great return for his and Miner's robotic cop.

"I think this is really good news," he says. "It's the best news in a really long time for a sequel to RoboCop. You never know, but I think this is the way to have the sequel we wanted to have." 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.