HN Entertainment recently interviewed RoboCop screenwriter/co-creator Ed Neumeier (Starship Troopers) about the development of Neill Blomkamp’s RoboCop Returns for MGM, which he wrote a draft for with RoboCop screenwriting partner and fellow franchise co-creator Michael Miner loosely based on their original RoboCop 2 script. Ed revealed that their draft was handed over to Neill and Terminator: Dark Fate screenwriter Justin Rhodes (Green Lantern Corps., Fantastic Voyage) along with some early details on the film.
We’ve now been able to speak with Michael Miner as well. Our very own Nicholas Whitcomb interviewed Michael just yesterday about his career as a screenwriter, how RoboCop came about/together and how RoboCop Returns is coming along. Michael also gave some new details about Returns such as a little more insight with their criminal augmented villain, originally having the film set 30 years in the future with Murphy places in suspended animation, how Peter Weller might be able to return to the role, and if we might be seeing the return of Officer Lewis.
HN: It looks like MGM is getting to revisit RoboCop again with director Neill Blomkamp, can you talk about when you first heard that was going to happen and have you had conversations with Ed about that?
MINER: “I was very excited about that, I hadn’t watched Chappie at the time, District 9 was pretty damn good. But then I watched Chappie and there’s like three films in there like he got to act three and went: ‘Oh shit, I have all this stuff to do’. He’s trying to pay-off five different things at the end because he spent all this time setting up too complicated of a narrative.”
“We’re being rewritten by Justin Rhodes, we wrote a draft that we turned in last year and Neill is supervising that. We’ll see what happens.”
“Basically, it wasn’t a very good script [our original RoboCop 2 script] but the setup was really good, so MGM responded to that. Maybe our draft [of RoboCop Returns] was a little too ambitious and expensive. I don’t know all of the issues of them going with Justin, Justin’s hot, kind of hotter than we are from the Terminator [Dark Fate] script. Maybe they were being heat-seekers.”
HN: One thing that Ed Neumeier did tease is that the film’s villains would explore the future augmented humans and one is also from the corporate world, can you talk about that?
MINER: “In Justin’s script, we started this idea, about people who augment themselves surgically without the help of doctors, so it’s a real body horror idea. And our villain was a Centaur-like freaky monster with a football helmet with spiraling horns coming out of it and we called him the mule. Justin didn’t go in that direction, but he was inspired by our steampunk body horror examples and hopefully, he’ll play that out as it should be.”
HN: It seems like Neill really wants to treat this as if Paul Verhoeven had directed a true sequel to RoboCop, have you had conversations with Neill specifically about the tone, and kind of capturing the magic of the original film?
MINER: “We jumped in our draft thirty years into the future and RoboCop was reanimated after being in suspended animation, like Han Solo at the end of [Empire Strikes Back]. But he wanted it to be the day after the end of the last film, kind of a non-specific date but retro. It’s an interesting call, I don’t disagree with it. They’re being kind of non-specific the date after tomorrow [5 minutes into the future] instead of being a sci-fi futuristic.”
While Ed previously stated they were gung-ho about having Peter Weller back in the role, Miner goes into a bit more detail on how that could be achieved.
MINER: “Yeah, I think Neill originally [wanted Peter Weller back] and still could be the case, I haven’t talked to Neill in a while, of using Peter’s face and voice, and putting inside the RoboCop suit. Even based on a long time ago [The Curious Case of] Benjamin Button, turning Brad Pitt into a 19 year old, I think they can do it digitally and I think the film would own a couple of number one weekends at the box office just to see how Neill pulled it off because he is a wizard and he could put Peter Weller in there.
“I don’t know if they’ve made an offer to Peter yet…but it would be interesting, it’s still got to have a good story but that would be the first step.”
HN: I have to ask, is Officer Lewis part of the story, is she going to come back?
MINER: “In our script, we had her come back in a dream. But I think in Justin’s draft originally they said that both Sgt. Reed and Officer Lewis were relocated to another precinct and they didn’t deal with it. We gave them notes and I don’t know what they’ve done with those notes but we did a little kicking-and-screaming, we’ll see what happens.”
HN: Well hopefully that pans out because it feels like her character hasn’t gotten her moment to shine, so that’d be cool to see her come back.
MINER: “I agree, I agree completely it would be a lot of fun. She was his best friend and if you want it to be the day after the last one I think that you have to deal with that.”
The movie is still in development stages it seems as MGM has yet to officially greenlight the film, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed because it sounds all kinds of awesome to us.
We’ll have more from our exclusive interview with Michael Miner a little later in the week, stay tuned!