In a recent interview with Cinemablend's Eric Eisenberg former host of US internet clip show The Planets Funniest Animals, Keegan-Michael Key revealed that the recently announced reshoots for forthcoming science fiction action sequel The Predator have just finished and that script rewrites have changed three-quarters of the movies final act. In the interview Key also praised the director of the movie Shane Black, calling him "one of our most vibrant writers of cinema." However, Keys' carefully selected words during this interview continue to highlight the apprehension felt by a growing number of movie critics and fans that The Predator may be far from being the franchises crowning moment. Let us take a retrospective look at the development, production, and marketing of The Predator to gather together these concerns.
#1 The Announcement
In June 2014 Shane Black, director of the commercially uber-successful Iron Man 3, announced that with longtime collaborator and friend Fred Dekker (who co-wrote and directed the critically panned RoboCop 3) he would co-write and direct a reboot of 1987's Predator. Following an overwhelming backlash from fans Black, who had also co-starred in the original movie as the wise-cracking Private Hawkins, backtracked on this announcement, stating that the planned movie would in actuality be a sequel.
Following the announcement of the movie's title as "The Predator" nearly 18 months later in February 2016, that June Black stated that the movie would event-ize the franchise, but did not elaborate as to how the movie would achieve this, only drawing comparisons to Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
#2 Pre-Production Jitters
It was in October 2016 that Logan star Boyd Holbrook was confirmed to have been cast in the movie, with co-stars Olivia Munn, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay, Alfie Allen, Yvonne Strahovski, and Edward James Olmos following soon afterward. In June 2017 Starship Troopers star Jake Busey was also added to the cast, soon afterward confirming that his character would be the son of Agent Peter Keyes, the character played by his father Gary Busey in 1990's Predator 2.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was also set to return in a cameo role, but reports suggest that the role was so small and inconsequential that the former lead star of the 1987 original (pictured above) couldn't in good conscience accept the role.
Since principal photography ended some of the cast have "let slip" tidbits of information, with Edward James Olmos hinting towards the movies lighter, more comedic tone, Thomas Jane revealing that the main cast is a ragtag team of shellshocked soldiers, and Keegan-Michael Key and Olivia Munn hinting that the movie may consider 2004's AvP and 2007's AvP: Requiem as part of its narrative canonicity. Strange, considering these crossovers were retconned from continuity by 2012's Prometheus, the first of Ridley Scott's series of prequels to his 1979 science fiction horror classic; Alien.
#3 Production Woes
Principal photography for The Predator began in February 2017 and continued until June of that year in Vancouver, Canada; the same location used for the critically panned AvP: Requiem. It was during filming that the first on-location photographs revealed two of the movies creature actors in full costume alongside key cast members atop a Stryker-like APC (also seen in AvP: Requiem), instead of opposing them as fans would expect. The photographs in question showed two Predators in custom military fatigues teamed up alongside the main cast (see above).
Following the release of these pictures, plot leaks revealed more of the movie's narrative, with the two aforementioned Predators being revealed as deserters. These leaks also revealed that the antagonist of the movie would be a ten-foot tall Predator called "The Upgrade", with which the biggest and most divisive addition to the franchise's mythology would be embodied; that the Predators hunt humans to acquire our DNA, of which they then splice with their own, upgrading themselves. The movie's protagonist was also revealed to be portrayed by Jacob Tremblay (pictured above with Black and the main cast). The 11-year-old Candian child actor will play Rory McKenna, an autistic child capable of deciphering the Predators language and technology.
#4 Post-Production Damage Control
In September 2017 Chief-Executive of 20th Century Fox Stacey Snider attempted to silence critics by revealing that Black and Dekker's (insert tool joke here) script was "unexpected and utterly fresh," while confirming that the movie would be set in US suburbia and feature a little boy and his dad at the center of the action. Sadly this news only fuelled more anxiety in the growing number of worried critics and fans, as virtually the same premise was used for 2007's critically panned AvP: Requiem.
Before principal photography began, and before Snider's praise in the movie, The Predator was scheduled to be released March 2nd, 2018, before being moved up to February 9th. Then during production, the movies release date was pushed back to August 3rd. However, following a divisive test screening in November 2017, in February 2018 Fox again pushed back the movies release date to September 14th. The script rewrites mentioned at the top of this article, which has reportedly changed much of the movies third act, and the subsequent reshoots in Vancouver last month (9 months after principal photography ended), together with the subsequent release date rescheduling to September 14th clearly shows that Fox was unhappy with the movie or at the very least its test screening.
#5 Poor Marketing
More recently director Black confirmed that the movies first trailer, which he initially announced would be public, will actually premiere at this years Cinemacon in two weeks time before being released in theaters. There has been no mention as to when the trailer will be released online for movie critics, fans, and the wider audience to see. With most movie trailers being released around six months before a movies theatrical release, we should have had at least a teaser trailer shortly after principal photography wrapped, back when the release date was March/February of this year. Yet here we are five months before the release of the movie with no footage, leaked or otherwise. To date, and beyond all the speculation and rumors, all fans have of substance to speculate, discuss and analyze are a few on-location snapshots and the movies less than imaginative promotional poster (above).
Sadly the retrospective glance back above highlights a worrying and growing trend in which Hollywood studios will invest hundreds of millions of dollars in movies with a troubled production, presumably assuming any issue can be solved by throwing more money at it. Recent movies such as Solo: A Star Wars Story, Justice League, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, The Mummy, Transformers: The Last Knight, Terminator Genisys and Ghostbusters: Answer the Call are each prime examples of movies within this trend, movies that should have had their production cancelled rather than forced to completion, movies that no matter the hype failed to resonate with either movie critics, the fans or the wider audience.
Much like Terminator Genisys and Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, The Predator has been ridiculed and protested throughout its production, with little from the studio, cast or crew to dissuade the growing negativity towards the movie. Virtually every headline that should be promoting this movie seems to carry with it detracting connotations, further adding to growing public opinion against this movie. While we here at Scified, and many other commentators and new platforms want to remain optimistic about The Predator, the truth is that rather than putting our minds at ease Fox and director Black are actually perpetuating the cycle of negativity with their silence and apparent lack of faith in this movie.
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