From Script to Screen: Predator 2 – Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

Posted by Corporal Hicks on December 4, 2022 (Updated: 22-Aug-2023)

For the first time ever a copy of the first draft of the script for Predator 2 is now available to find in the Alien vs. Predator Galaxy Downloads section! Thanks to the persuasive power of community member Kane Gilbert T. (aka Sonny Bryan), we were able to transcribe images taken of the complete script from the collection of Predator fan Predain (aka Ian). 

Before we talk about some of the differences between this first draft and the finished film, I do want to be very clear that this isn’t a script containing Dutch. There was never a complete draft of a script for Predator 2 that included Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch, but there was a somewhat complete script. 

Speaking of that early version of Predator 2 to Alien vs. Predator Galaxy, Predator 2 director Stephen Hopkins told us that after signing onto direct the film he was handed a mostly complete 60-page draft of a Predator 2 script that featured both Dutch and Harrigan. That script was never completed, for reasons ranging from the Writers’ Strike in 1988 to Arnold’s decision to not do the film, but that’s a subject for another article! 

The Big Apple – Location and Time

What we have for you today is the first completed draft of Predator 2, dated October 6th 1989, featuring Detective Mike Harrigan as the main character. The first major difference in this draft is that it was set entirely in New York, with the opening scene taking place in the notorious Hell’s Kitchen.  

The second draft, dated December 15th, 1989, saw the location change to Los Angles as seen in the finished film, along with an opening sequence that plays out the same as in the film. In fact, there were very little actual significant changes from that second draft to the finished film. 

 From Script to Screen: Predator 2 - Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

And rather than the far flung future of 1997 of the released film, the first draft was set in 1994. The second draft would see the setting push forward to 1995. The 1997 date would be settled on by the third draft which was dated January 16th 1990.  

“It Has Not Been A Good Day” – The Opening Scene

The opening scenes of the first draft are quite different. Rather than the in-progress shoot out between El Scorpio and his fellow gang members and the police, the first draft finds us observing a weapons deal taking place between Italian dealer Rocco Tannarach and a small number of Columbian drug dealers, led by The Scorpion. 

The deal soon goes south when The Scorpion decides he isn’t willing to pay for the merchandise on offer from Rocco. As both the Columbian’s and weapon dealers draw their pieces, the Predator who has been observing the deal, interrupts in much the same manner as in the finished film, crashing down from the skylights above.  

 From Script to Screen: Predator 2 - Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

When Harrigan and his team arrives, rather than The Scorpion being the sole survivor, it is one of the Rocco’s body guards that surprises Harrigan’s squad and is later shot off the roof of the building. This is one of those changes that I completely understand. The opening as filmed puts the main characters into the action themselves, making them a part of the story from the very start. 

Harrigan also doesn’t have a fear of heights in this draft. His acrophobia wouldn’t become a part of his character until the third draft 

From Tony to Jerry

Another bigger change is in the character of Jerry Lambert. In this draft – and the second – he’s an Italian detective by the name of Anthony ‘Tony’ D’Angelo. Rather than an established detective – the Lone Ranger (a name Harrigan actually uses to reference the Predator) – he’s a very green detective, having only just got his shield. Describing Tony to his Lieutenant, Captain Pilgrim tells Harrigan that Tony: 

“Cut his teeth in the 38th Precinct. His old man was Benny D’Angelo, you remember, South Bronx. He’s a good kid, and you’ve got somethin’ in common, two-time Golden Gloves, middleweight champ. Little green yet but he’s got balls. Keep him alive long enough and you could make him into a good detective.” 

While he’s still known as Tony D’Angelo in the second draft, his character essentially becomes the Jerry Lambert as we know him in the finished film. Additional dialogue about his background also survived all the way from the second draft to the shooting script (with some minor variations), but doesn’t appear in the actual film.

 From Script to Screen: Predator 2 - Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

“Dis Not Be ‘Bout Money, Mon…Dis Be ‘Bout Power” – The Voodoo Magic Scene and Predator Weaponry

The penthouse sequence in the first draft also has several changes. The most obvious being it didn’t take place in a penthouse! It was set in a squalid abandoned warehouse, where we find Ramon Vega already strung up and the voodoo ritual already taking place.  

In general it plays out very similarly as in the finished film, but when the Predator starts to have him some fun, rather than the speargun – that would make its debut in the second draft – the City Hunter makes use of multiple smaller disk weapons instead.   

Through the room, a BLUR OF MOVEMENT, now behind them, a Jamaican spinning around to fire, two gleaming DISKS the size of silver dollars, thudding into his chest, a THIRD sticking in his forehead.” 

Now you’re first thought may be “what about the smart disk? Is this an alternative?” No, the smart disk does make an appearance later, being introduced as Harrigan is chasing the City Hunter along the rooftops after the slaughter house sequence. The first draft described the weapon as: 

 From Script to Screen: Predator 2 - Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

 It would later be named the Smart Weapon by the third draft, but would not be the instrument used to deliver the killing blow to Peter Keyes until the shooting script. The description of being an “ancient fighting weapon” was also dropped in the subsequent drafts.  

Unlike the finished Predator 2, the Jamaican gang doesn’t burst in on Ramon Vega in the throes of passion with Teri Weigel, nor does it leave her the sole traumatized survivor. In this first draft of Predator 2, Ramon Vega is left as the survivor. This is another change I can understand, wanting to leave you caring about the survivor. Perhaps the leader of a drug cartel wasn’t the kind of character the powers that be thought would elicit that kind of emotion.  

With the absence of the speargun during this sequence, it obviously wasn’t the speartip that would draw Danny’s attention when he returned to the crime scene. In this first complete incarnation of Predator 2’s script, it was actually a golden St. Christopher’s medallion that glinted in the light to draw Danny’s interest.  

 From Script to Screen: Predator 2 - Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

This medal belonged to Rocco, the weapon dealer from the original opening sequence. With the weapon deal removed in the next draft and the loss of the Rocco character, it would instead become a golden Scorpion necklace that belonged to, you guessed it, El Scorpio. By the third draft it was the City Hunter’s speartip we would come to know and love.  

And with no speartip to put under the microscope, the city’s medical examiner and the chief pathologist – in this draft an older man named James Arnow – instead discovers an unusual substance in Danny’s wounds, a substance that Harrigan likens to honing-oil on the Predator’s wrist blade.  

 From Script to Screen: Predator 2 - Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

Car Crashes and Leona

While we still meet Leona’s husband in this draft of Predator 2, he r pregnancy is now entirely absent. Instead of being spared by City Hunter as he discovers the developing fetus within her, Leona dies not long after Tony during City Hunter’s subway attack when she turns back to help him. 

Harrigan no longer sees the Predator in the subway tunnel or chases after him, instead there’s a rather out of place car chase sequence where Harrigan steals a Police car and tears through the city to the slaughter house that Harrigan’s squad had previously investigated in the thoughts that the Predator was actually a human working there.  

While racing through the streets of New York, Harrigan crashes into a pick-up truck that then gives chase in an attempt to “citizen’s arrest” him for his quite dangerous driving. In a blind rage, to focused on avenging Leona and Tony, Harrigan shoots out one of the pick-up’s tires, causing them to crash right into a police precinct.  

 From Script to Screen: Predator 2 - Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

This is another one of those changes that I completely understand. As with the rewritten opening sequence, having Harrigan chase the Predator in the film puts him more directly into the Predator action without the need for this random chase sequence to add some extra action into the film. The reckless driving also shines Harrigan in a poor light, that the drivers of the pick-up being “rednecks” doesn’t quite alleviate. 

“A Fucking Alien” – History of the O.W.L.F

Over the course of writing, there were a number of additional details about the Other World Lifeform organisation and their investigations around the Predator that would be dropped from the film that ended up on the big screen.  

In the first draft, Keyes tells Harrigan that O.W.L.F has been around for 30 years, but that the Predators are the first solid lead they’ve found into their investigation into extraterrestrial life so far. 

 From Script to Screen: Predator 2 - Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

“I Don’t Think He Gives A Shit” – Billy Crystal as Ruth

The incredibly memorable sequence that is the City Hunter crashing into the apartment of Ruth and Herb  and being pursued by a Harrigan as he’d told the City Hunter probably doesn’t give a shit he’s a cop is also slightly different – the City Hunter doesn’t crash through the window for a start – but the more interesting deviation here is that the first draft has a notation that doesn’t exist in the subsequent drafts.  

Jim and John Thomas had noted in their script that the character of Ruth should be played by well-known actor Billy Crystal. At this point in his career Billy Crystal would have just starred in the iconic When Harry Met Sally, and had been enjoying a very successful career up until this point. Why the writing duo thought Billy Crystal would be a good choice for this role, I couldn’t tell you.   

 From Script to Screen: Predator 2 - Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

“Shit Happens” – The Final Confrontation

At this point it is probably pretty well known that there was an alternate death sequence for the City Hunter in Predator 2 that was never filmed. For those who might not be aware, as Lost Predators decloak, with the last of his strength the dying City Hunter offers his throat to the Greyback Predator who promptly severed the younger Predator’s head. While this scene would survive from the second draft, all the way to the shooting script (even if it wasn’t actually filmed), the first draft instead has the dying City Hunter carried into the depths of the Predator ship. 

However, before City Hunter was to meet his rather anticlimactic fate in this first draft, the lead-up to the final battle plays out somewhat differently. Rather than the exciting climax taking place in the unique interior of the Predator ship, it actually took place in the basement of Ruth’s apartment block. Much of the choreography is described the same, but there were some changes. 

The fight actually ends when the City Hunter ruptures a boiler after Harrigan dodges an attack. The City Hunter, having already been cut across the abdomen by Harrigan’s recovered smart disc, retreats with incredible wounds from the steam and boiling water, disappearing through a holographic wall in an attempt to reach his ship. 

 From Script to Screen: Predator 2 - Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

Harrigan gives chase to find the City Hunter having collapsed outside the Predator ship, unable to make it back to the rest of his clan. As Harrigan prepares to finish off the extra-terrestrial hunter that had been tormenting him, and killed so many of the people around him, the Lost Predator’s decloak and the script plays out very similarly to the finished film (minus Greyback landing the killing blow).  

 From Script to Screen: Predator 2 - Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

Peter Keyes Survives

Another major change between this first draft of Predator 2, and the finished film is that the character of Garber didn’t exist and Peter Keyes actually survived to the end. In both this first draft and the second draft, Peter Keyes is not a part of actual unit attempting to capture the City Hunter in the slaughter house and doesn’t intervene to save Harrigan as he simply isn’t in there. 

Instead, he has the role and much of the dialogue of Garber and appears at the end of the film as the Lost Predator’s ship departs. 

 From Script to Screen: Predator 2 - Biggest Differences From First Draft to Finished Film

There are other differences, of course. Differences such as City Hunter’s more obviously stalking and tormenting Harrigan that persisted from this first draft, through to subsequent drafts and even into Simon Hawke’s novelization of Predator 2. These are just the ones I thought were more interesting or significant when compared to the finished Predator 2 that we all know and love. To read the complete script for yourself, you can head on over to our downloads section where you will also find the second and third drafts, along with one of the later shooting scripts.

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Comments: 3
  1. I never got the point of having it set in 1997, Besides the computer screams and hair styles not muched changed in 7 years, in the movie and real life, Unless it was to show that they only come to hunt every 10 years.

  2. I could imagine Billy Crystal in makeup to look older like the princess bride cameo. It would have been funny. I like the warehouse setting and giving more lines to the criminals..

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