Fred Dekker Discusses The Creative Differences On The Predator
Last year saw the classic dreadlock-donning extraterrestrials return to the big screen with The Predator in a very mixed fashion, grossing over $160 million at the global box office but dividing critics and audiences alike. Speaking with Moviefone co-writer Fred Dekker has finally revealed some of the behind-the-scenes turmoil that led to the very problematic and scattershot four-quel.
Dekker was asked about numerous elements in the film that were cut or shot down by the studio, including a “good guy Predators” subplot and military convoy sequence, as well as his and director Shane Black (The Nice Guys)’s disappointment with the final product.
“We had devised a sequence, which I confessed was my idea, which was essentially, our heroes have to get from point A to point B and they commandeer military convoy. And at that point in the film, we had established a pair of Predator emissaries, basically good guy predators. What was interesting to Shane and I was to ask a question that nobody gives a sh*t about, which is, what do predators do, except for hunt? Because they’ve invented interstellar spacecraft. So they’re not stupid. They’re not just a bunch of Arkansas rednecks who come to Earth to play the most dangerous game. They actually have a civilization and a culture. And presumably that’s worth exploring since none of the other movies do it.”
These two emissaries would lead to a very different third act than what we got on screen in which our heroes would learn from the two that the Predators’ planet is dying and they hope to live on Earth. It’s revealed that the ship that crashed at the beginning of the film was carrying mutant creatures featuring a hybrid of Predator and other alien DNA intended to eradicate mankind so the Predators can populate the Earth for themselves.
Before the protagonists can react or process this information, however, they are attacked by the upgraded Predator that did make it into the final product, who releases the mutant creatures on the group while they are transporting the emissaries during a daytime sequence on large military vehicles.
“At some point or another, the studio, I think, and I’m not pointing fingers at anyone in particular, but there were these misgivings that we were straying too far from what people expected the movie to be. And so we sat down and went, ‘I guess we need to do a hunt and it needs to be at night, so it’s scarier.’ So we ended up going in that direction, which I don’t think served us because it didn’t top anything we’d seen before. I’m actually quite pleased with the first half of the movie, but it kind of goes off the rails, and Hollywood does this all the time, by trying to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.”
One of the many problems that Dekker brought up, in addition to the studio controlling various elements of the story, was that because he was only the co-writer of the film and neither the director nor a producer, many of his new ideas or tweaks to studio ideas were largely ignored or thrown aside, including an Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator: Dark Fate) cameo that would set up an epic sequel. Said ending was shot down by both the studio and the actor himself, who wanted too much money for a half-a-day shoot.
The finale audiences did get, in which the mysterious cargo seen on the Predator ship at the beginning of the film is revealed to be a mysterious cocoon with a mech suit designed to kill Predators, also had no creative involvement from Dekker or Black.
“We shot it. I wrote that very last line. But I wasn’t happy about it. The whole thing seemed to not be in step with that particular franchise. It was one of many ideas that we floated and shot. We shot a version where Ripley was in the cocoon and we shot one where Newt from Aliens was in the cocoon. Sigourney [Weaver] didn’t want to clear any future for Ripley in the franchise and ultimately I don’t think anybody remembers Newt well enough for that to have meant anything.”
The cast of The Predator included Boyd Holbrook (Logan), Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight), Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder), Keegan-Michael Key (Tomorrowland), Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse), Sterling K. Brown (This is Us), Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), Thomas Jane (The Mist), Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey, and Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale).
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