You just can’t keep a good trophy-hunting alien down.
Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger first brawled with the hulking extraterrestrial hunter in 1987’s Predator, the iconic creatures introduced in director John McTiernan’s film have found their way back to the screen in one form or another in various movies, video games, and other projects. The response to those projects has been mixed, though, and after a pair of crossover films featuring the non-human stars of both the Alien and Predator franchises and a 2010 spinoff film titled Predators all failed to catch on, studio 20th Century Fox announced plans to go the reboot route in 2018.
Now set to be directed by Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang filmmaker Shane Black — who also played a supporting role in the original 1987 film — The Predator will feature a script by Black and Fred Dekker, who previously worked together on the ’80s classic The Monster Squad. The film is expected to acknowledge the first two installments of the franchise while also rebooting the series for modern movie audiences. Narcos actor Boyd Holbrook reportedly set to star in the film.
With the studio planning to unleash The Predator on theaters February 9, 2018, here’s everything we know about the movie so far.
Bringing back hunting season
The 20th Century Fox studio first announced plans for a reboot of the Predator franchise back in 2014, with both Black and Dekker attached to the project from the very start.
The Predator is a reunion of sorts for Black and the titular, trophy-hunting alien. Along with playing a supporting a role in the original film, Black was also offered a chance to rewrite 1987’s Predator due to his success with Lethal Weapon earlier that year, but opted instead for an on-screen role and some unknown, uncredited contributions to the film’s script.
Also returning for the reboot is franchise producer John Davis, who weighed in on Black’s plans for the film in an August 2015 interview.
“I’ve read a lot of [Black’s] script and I think it’s genius,” Davis told Collider. “I think it’s genius and I think it’s entertaining, and what it did is re-create a famous franchise in a different, interesting way; looking at it from a different light. He’s just an amazing writer-director.”
Black has indicated that the film won’t be a full-scale reboot of the franchise, with the film acknowledging the events of the first two installments of the series — 1987’s Predator and 1990’s Predator 2 — but it’s unknown whether the following two crossover films or 2010’s Predators (which is set on a far-off planet) will also fall within the film’s newly established continuity. What is known, however, is that The Predator will be set in the present day, a fact that Black himself confirmed.
The studio officially announced The Predator as the film’s title in February 2016, and the 2018 release date for the project was revealed a short time later.
New, old, and ugly faces
Naturally, the initial casting discussion surrounding The Predator focused on whether the film would bring back any of the (admittedly few) characters to survive previous installments of the franchise — particularly, Schwarzenegger’s tough-as-nails Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer. After successfully battling the creature in the 1987 movie, his character didn’t appear in any of the sequels or spinoffs outside of vague references to his encounter in a Central American jungle.
“These things all happened in 1990,” said Black when asked in May 2016 if there’s a chance we’ll see Schwarzenegger reprise his role. “But now it’s 25 years later. So in other words, if Arnold’s in it — which I’m not allowed to discuss — he would be old Arnold.”
While Schwarzenegger’s return remains uncertain, the project appeared to be narrowing its search for a leading man when Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro was reported in September 2016 to be in talks for the starring role in The Predator. Those talks appeared to have broken down in a hurry, though, as Narcos actor Boyd Holdbrook was announced as Del Toro’s replacement just a month later.
One character who’s definitely returning for The Predator is yet another representative of the deadly alien species that debuted in the 1987 film. According to Black, the iconic hunter is getting an upgrade of sorts for the film.
“It’s not to ‘improve,’ it’s make it fun, make it different, make it organically different,” Black told Coming Soon in May 2016. “So what’s the extension of it that makes sense, that’s exciting? There have been a lot of changes to Stan [Winston]’s design over the years. These different Predator movies have done different things. . . . In The Predator we’re doing a lot of upgrades to what you would consider to be the traditional Predator technology and look, but hopefully the story is what’s going to drag people in, not just the attention to the minutiae.”
Fans got their first look at the version of the iconic alien that will debut in The Predator via an image posted on the franchise’s official Facebook page in February 2016. The image featured the text “You’ll Never See Him Coming” over a background image of the alien, along with red text featuring the film’s newly announced title.
With filming expected to get underway soon on The Predator, there’s no official word yet on when we can expect to see the first footage from the film.
The Predator is scheduled to hit theaters February 9, 2018.