Six Degrees of Schwarzenegger Podcast – Predator 2


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Highlights from PREDATOR 2

Part 1

  • Predator hunts gangsters in 1997 Los Angeles
  • Danny Glover and company investigate gang massacre
  • Gary Busey and his shadowy team of feds show up
  • Predator kills Danny Glover’s partner
  • Danny Glover begins to figure out the Predator
  • Predator kills armed civilians and Bill Paxton on the subway.

Part 2

  • The Predator spares pregnant Maria Conchita Alonso
  • Gary Busey reveals his real motives
  • Predator lays waste to Busey’s team
  • Danny Glover gets the drop on the Predator
  • Danny Glover “disarms” the Predator
  • Inside the Predator spacecraft
  • A champion is crowned

A Surefire Sequel Squandered

After the smash success of PREDATOR, a sequel was inevitable, and work began almost immediately.  Screenwriting brothers Jim and John Thomas, who penned the original, returned to craft a sequel that could have gone in endless directions.

The first idea was to bring back Arnold Schwarzenegger to duel with the titular alien one more time.  The original concept would have seen Schwarzenegger using salvaged Predator tech to once again battle the alien hunter(s).  But Schwarzenegger had no interest in appearing in a sequel (possibly due to the disastrous experience of making CONAN THE DESTROYER), and the Thomas brothers moved on the explore other ideas.

The next PREDATOR follow-up concept was for a prequel that would have seen a Predator targeting American and Nazi soldiers in a snowy World War II setting.  While this goes against the premise established in the original film that the Predators hunt exclusively in hot climes, the idea is compelling on a number of levels.  The story would have seen the final American and German soldiers banding together to take on a Predator. The possibilities with this idea were tantalizing, but ultimately it would have asked viewers to root for Nazis, never a good idea.

So that idea too was tossed on the scrap heap, and the screenwriters set their sights on a violence-ravaged near future Los Angeles for their setting.  This was the safe play and the filmmakers tried to insure success by filling the sequel with familiar faces from other action hits such as LETHAL WEAPON, DIE HARD, ALIENS, and THE RUNNING MAN.  But the final result was an uninspired mess that was panned by critics, ignored by moviegoers, and failed to recoup its $35M budget domestically.

In the video below, listen to screenwriter Jim Thomas talk more about the development of PREDATOR 2 as well as other amazing behind the scenes stories from the original PREDATOR with Beau Marks, assistant director and associate producer from that film.  The part on PREDATOR 2 development begins at 38:44.

Planting the seeds for a crossover

There has been a long history in Hollywood of breathing new life into tired franchises by attempting a crossover, combining characters from separate sagas to lure both fanbases back to the theater.  One of the earliest was 1943’s FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF-MAN combining two of Universal’s monster franchises, followed in 1948 by the more outlandish ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. In 1962, when both the Godzilla and King Kong franchises had lost their sizzle, KING KONG VS. GOLDZILLA came along to inject energy back into both franchises.

When PREDATOR 2 was released in November of 1990, Twentieth Century Fox planted the seed of an eventual crossover of Fox’s Alien and Predator franchises with an Easter Egg.  When Danny Glover’s character enters the Predator’s spacecraft in the film’s final act, he discovers a trophy wall covered in skulls of past kills, including a Xenomorph skull.  There is no special attention drawn to the Xenomorph skull, but it is instantly recognizable to fans of the Alien films. Interestingly enough, PREDATOR 2 was not the first convergence of the two science fiction properties, as Xenomorphs and Predators battled in a comic book released in February of 1990, about the time filming began on the PREDATOR sequel.

PREDATOR 2 fell flat at the box office, however, and when ALIEN 3 was released in 1992, it barely broke even.  With demand for more of either franchise at an all-time low, Fox was in no rush for force a crossover. In 1997, Fox took another swing with ALIEN RESURRECTION, which took a big loss at the U.S. box office.  Predators battled Xenomorphs in video game releases in 1999 and 2001, but it was 2004 before moviegoers saw Predators and Xenomorphs again on the big screen. That was an absence of 7 years for the Xenomorphs and 14 years for Predators.

In AVP: ALIEN VERSUS PREDATOR, Fox played it safe by casting primarily unknown actors and making the movie on the cheap.  The strategy paid off as the film was a hit at the U.S. box office and a big success overseas as well. In 2007, Fox went back to the well with ALIENS VERSUS PREDATOR: REQUIEM, a movie made for even less than AVP.  REQUIEM broke even in America and performed well overseas, showing the global appetite for both franchises remained strong.

Fox took a swing at relaunching the Predator franchise with in 2010 with PREDATORS, which was moderately successful, but far from a smash hit.  Ridley Scott returned to the Alien franchise with PROMETHEUS in 2012 and ALIEN: COVENANT in 2017, both of which were met with middling enthusiasm in America but performed well overseas.  Fox has brought on writer/director Shane Black, who portrayed Hawkins in PREDATOR, to helm a reboot of the Predator franchise with THE PREDATOR, set to come out in September 2018.

And just because it’s always a good time to watch this video, let’s watch a group of Predators have a dance party.

 

Further reading: Stan Winston and company expand the Predator mythos

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