“District 9” and “Elysium” director Neill Blomkamp has signed on to direct MGM’s “RoboCop Returns,” a sequel to Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 cyberpunk classic (via Deadline). Original screenwriters Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner are producing the movie, which will be based on their original spec script for a sequel to Verhoeven’s film that never got made. Justin Rhodes, a co-writer on Tim Miller’s upcoming “Terminator” sequel, is rewriting the script.
“RoboCop” starred Peter Weller as an injured cop who is turned into a cyborg law enforcement officer programmed to wipe out crime in the Detroit area. The cop’s memories of his human life resurface and cause a malfunction with his new technology. MGM tried to reboot “RoboCop” in 2014 with director Jose Padilha and star Joel Kinnaman but the film disappointed at the domestic box office.
Blomkamp has directed “Chappie” in addition to “District 9” and “Elysium.” The filmmaker was developing an “Alien” film for several years, but the project never came to fruition as Ridley Scott returned to the franchise with “Prometheus” and “Alien: Covenant.” Blomkamp told Deadline the original “RoboCop” had a “massive effect” on him as a child.
“I loved it then and it remains a classic in the end of 20th Century sci-fi catalog, with real meaning under the surface,” Blomkamp said. “Hopefully that is something we can get closer to in making of a sequel. That is my goal here. What I connected to as a kid has evolved over time.”
“At first, the consumerism, materialism and Reaganomics, that ’80s theme of America on steroids, came through most strongly,” he continued. “But as I’ve gotten older, the part that really resonated with me is identity, and the search for identity. As long as the human component is there, a good story can work in any time period, it’s not locked into a specific place in history.”
“RoboCop Returns” will be set in crime-ridden Detroit and center around the cyborg as he is forced to come back to the city and save it from the brink of anarchy. Neumeier and Miner said the planned sequel never happened after 1987 because of the 1988 writers strike and Verhoeven’s lack of interest in making another installment.