Carey L. Jones
Berserker Predator, Falconer Predator
Chosen for their ability to kill without conscience, a group of killers, some trained and some who are not, must endeavour the alien race of predators that have set out to target them as prey. Dropped into the vast jungle of a distant world, these human predators must learn just who, or what, they are up against, and that their ability, knowledge and wits are tested to the limits in the battle of survival of kill or be killed.
A third Predator movie has been rumoured ever since Predator 2 was released. There were three main scripts written in the 90s. The first, written by Sam Park, is called Predator 3: The Deadlier of the Species and features Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character, Dutch, in New York during a blizzard. A Predator comes to New York and tracks down Dutch to try and kill him. The second script is called The Zoo which brings back both Dutch from Predator and Harrigan from Predator 2 and they are captured and brought back to the Predator homeworld because they were the only two people to have ever killed a Predator.
The last script was written by Robert Rodriguez in 1994 when he was working on Desperado and is called Predators. It starts on a 17th century ship where a Predator stalks the crewman who have to fight with inferior weaponry. Rodriguez did speak about his script during an interview at the beginning of 2004 and said it was rejected because the budget would have been too big – about $150m. A draft of his Predators script dated 1996 has since leaked and you can read our Analysis about it.
Around 1996-1998, Alex Litvak was working as an executive for 20th Century Fox (view our Alex Litvak Interview for more information on the origins of Predators) and the subject of a Predator sequel came up. Litvak pitched two ideas. The first idea is that he suggested doing Alien vs Predator as Peter Briggs’s script was doing the rounds. The problem at the time is that 20th Century Fox were making Alien Resurrection and the success of the franchises rested on that film. When Alien Resurrection underperformed and Predator 2 didn’t do that well prior to that, the idea was shelved.
Litvak’s second idea was to try and get Arnold Schwarzengger back. The film would be a direct sequel to Predator and we would find out what happened to Dutch. A Predator ship crash lands in a hard-to-reach location such as the ocean or mountains. A government agency convinces Dutch and he takes a team to find the crashed ship. When Dutch finds the ship and opens it, a team of Predators emerge and his team are killed. It was a trap all along to capture Dutch. This idea for the film disappeared as it would have been difficult to convince Arnold Schwarzenegger to do another Predator film.
In 2005, Alex Litvak is now a writer and he’s written his first script with Mike Finch, Medieval. He then thinks about Predator again and comes up with an idea that there are different clans of Predators. What if there are Predators who hunts Predators.
By 2008, Litvak has developed a full pitch and he heard that there is now some interest at Fox in reviving the Predator franchise. He pitched his idea to John Davis’s company where they’re in a jungle and a spaceship lands. You expect a Predator to emerge but it turns out to be a human. The setting isn’t on Earth either – it’s on a jungle on a different planet in the future. The humans that emerge from the ship are a hunting party and the reason that they’re here is that the star nearby is about go super nova ending all life on the planet within 24 hours. They’ll be able to hunt prey that will be never be hunted again.
At the same time, another Predator ship has landed across the other side of the planet who are there for the same reason. After that, a third ship lands and it’s full of Super Predators, a clan of technologically superior Predators with no honour. The Super Predators kill almost everybody just leaving the human leader and one Predator. They have to work together to hijack the Super Predators’ spaceship to escape the planet. That was Litvak and Finch’s big idea for the movie. Another less-grand idea was to keep the Predator vs Predator concept but set it present day where you have a dozen mercenaries and criminals who have to work together to survive.
In 2009, 20th Century Fox studio executive, Alex Young, contacted Rodriguez and asked him to revive the Predator franchise using his script from the 90’s. Robert Rodriguez was hired to produce the new Predators movie. Originally, there was some confusion whether or not the film would be a remake of Predator or a reboot of the series. Rodriguez’s original script was the jumping point for the new Predators movie.
Alex Litvak and Michael Finch went to meet Rodriguez to discuss their ideas. They went off and Fox came back and said they didn’t like the future space idea but they liked the Super Predators concept and the dozen or so worst of the worst criminals/mercenaries. Litvak and Finch were hired to write the script based on this idea using Rodriguez’s script as a rough guide.
Litvak and Finch’s First Predators Draft
Litvak and Finch went to Austin, Texas for several days and had discussions about the movie was going to be about. They had a hard deadline to meet and they sent in their Act 1. It originally had more characters in – about 10 people. At the end of Act 1, the characters are captured and are thrown into a gladiatorial battle where the Predators make them fight other creatures. The characters break out a captured Predator and try to get to a spaceship through a jungle, desert and a mountain.
The Super Predators had a lot more advanced technology than we see. There was a big action scene in a cave where the Super Predators use the Falcon and Hounds to a greater extent than in the finished film. As the lead character gets to the ship, a Predator is killed and gives his life so they could escape. The other Predators show up and the woman in the group is captured by the Super Predators. The main character still takes off. He comes back for her and lands the ship in the Predator compound. He liberates a captured Predator and rescues the female character. There is an epic battle between two clans of Predators.
Predators Finds Its Director
Many directors were considered to direct Predators including Neil Marshall, Michael J. Bassett, Bill Duke, Marcus Nispel, Peter Berg and Darren Lynn Bousman. Eventually Nimród Antal was hired because Rodriguez enjoyed Antal’s earlier films Kontroll and Vacancy. Nimrod has a different version of the film in his mind and didn’t like the writer’s first draft. Some of it was budget issues, some of it was that the Predator vs Predator concept was too much the focus. He wanted it to be closer to the original film. He wanted to keep the alien planet, Super Predators and ‘worst of the worst’. This is why the Predator vs Predator battle is really in the background in the finished film. A new draft had to be written in 10 days. Fox were generally happy with Act 1 so that just needed some rewrites to scale it down. But the rest of the draft had to be completely discarded.
Nimrod wanted it to be a full-scale action film and to cut down the dialogue considerably. When the writers turned in a 67-page draft, they realised it just didn’t work. Finch came up with the idea to have a lone survivor out there – Nolan to pad the film out with a bit more dialogue and mythology.
Amalgamated Dynamics, who worked on the Predators in Alien vs Predator and AvP Requiem were not asked back to work on Predators. Neither was Stan Winston Studios who were responsible for the original Predator films. Instead, they hired KNB EFX’s Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero to create the predator costumes. Howard Berger actually worked with Stan Winston on Predator. They wanted to have the Classic Predator look as it did in Predator so they went back and looked at the original design. The film also features a new tribe of Predators, alien dog-like creatures that the Predators use for hunting, as well as other creatures the Predators have brought to the planet.
At the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, Robert Rodriguez stated that Predators would have an ensemble cast and said the characters would be the most important aspect of the film. He also said the title of the film had a double meaning that the characters are all predators as well as the alien creatures. For the lead role, Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal deliberately wanted to avoid casting anybody who was massively-built like Arnold Schwarzenegger as they didn’t want to simple remake or copy Predator.
The writers had two actors in mind for the part of Royce. Vin Diesel was one of them because of his work on Pitch Black and Jerry Butler because of 300. Butler’s agents were interested but they requested too much money for the role. Next was Clive Owen because of Robert Rodriguez’s relationship with him on Sin City. Jamie Foxx was then offered the role before they approached Michael Fassbender. All three turned it down. Adrian Brody was initially offered the Edwin part but convinced them to give him the Royce part instead. Adrien Brody was cast as Royce, a mercenary who becomes the leader of the group. The actor said he loved Predator and viewed his role as a challenge because he wanted it to be a stark contrast to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch character. He put on 25 pounds of muscle for the role.
Alice Braga was cast as Isabelle who is a sniper from the Israel Defense Force. She’s the only female member of the cast so she plays the role of peacemaker. To prepare for the role, she read a sniper manual and carried a 14 pound sniper rifle with her when filming. At one point, director Nimrod Antal suggested that her character was a shape-shifter creature.
Topher Grace plays Edwin, a doctor who reveals himself to be a murderer. Grace was hesitant about taking the role at first as he liked Predator but didn’t think the sequels were all that good. When he read the Predators script, he said it was the equivalent to what Aliens was to Alien. He also performed some of his own stunts during filming like jumping off the waterfall. The character of Edwin was in from the first draft. The writers wanted to have somebody in there you didn’t expect. He was inspired by Steve Buscemi’s character from Con Air.
Oleg Taktarov was cast as Nikolai, who is a Russian commando. Taktarov likened his character to a mixture of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura and Bill Duke’s characters from Predator. Because of his background in martial arts, he used some of that training during filming. Louis Ozawa Changchien plays Hanzo, a Yakuza enforcer. The actor used his kendo training for the samurai battle with the Falconer Predator.
The actor insisted it look authentic. Other actors include Walton Goggins as Stans, a prisoner on death row; Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as Mombasa, a Sierra Leone Revolutionary United Front death squad soldier; Danny Trejo as Cuchillo, a member of the Mexican drug cartel. Derek Mears plays the Classic Predator which was designed to resemble the predator in the first film. Brian Steele plays the Berserker and Falconer Predators. Carey Jones plays the Tracker Predator. He also filled in for Steele in some scenes.
In a leaked script there was going to be a cameo appearance right at the end of the film from Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dutch. He was going to appear from a Predator ship dressed as a Predator and rescue Royce and Isabelle. Robert Rodriguez approached Schwarzenegger and reportedly offered to push back production on the movie until after he had left his Governor’s position but presumably he declined. In another draft, the Noland character was going to be Dutch. He would have taken the characters back to the compound, rob them and try to kill them. He still would have died like in the film. This idea didn’t survive more than one draft as they felt like that audience wouldn’t really appreciate seeing Dutch having lost his mind. The character of Noland was played by Laurence Fishburne who Nimrod Antal had previously worked with on Armor.
The film was shot on a 53 day schedule and began on September 28, 2009. The exterior shots were filmed mostly in Kolekole, Hawaii and the filming there took 22 days. Some scenes were filmed at Canyon Lake Gorge in Comal County. All the interior scenes were shot at Robert Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Texas instead of 20th Century Fox so that Rodriguez would have full creative control on the movie. In order to be eligible for tax benefits, 60% of the movie was shot there.
John Debney, who worked on Sin City and Iron Man 2, composed the score for Predators. He created many custom sounds and instruments including Tibetan long horns to create screams.
Predators had its premiere in Austin, Texas and was then released in many international territories on July 8, 2010 grossing $6.8 million in the UK and Ireland and $6.3 million in Japan. The movie was released in North America on July 9, 2010. It grossed $10 million on Friday and entered at number three on the U.S. box office grossing $24.7 million in its first weekend. It grossed $52,000,688 domestically and $75,233,701 internationally giving it worldwide total of $127,234,389.
Predators received mixed to positive reviews from critics upon its release. It currently holds a Fresh Rating of 64% on RottenTomatoes based on 187 reviews. Many critics called it a fun action-packed sequel to Predator and considered it a better sequel than Predator 2. Some reviewers praised Adrien Brody’s performance while some others felt he was miscast in the role. Some of the criticism was also aimed at the pacing and poor characters.
Predators did surprisingly well at the box office considering it was made for only $40M. Nimrod Antal, Robert Rodriguez and the writers Litvak and Finch were all interested in doing a sequel but they had to convince the studio. The writers’ idea for the sequel was that Royce and Isabelle would still be on the planet and more and more people would be getting dropped in.
So at the end of Act 1, Royce, Isabelle and their group are captured by the Super Predators on purpose. They are taken back to their ship so they can get back to Earth. The characters escape and as Litvak describes it: “It’s Die Hard on a Predator ship”. They get back to Earth and they realise it’s far into the future. Colonial Marines appear and the Alien and Predator series are bridged together.
That idea never got off the ground but Litvak and Finch had some more conversations with John Davis and the executives at Fox. Their new idea was that a Predator ship crashes on Earth and everything spills out of it. The lead characters’ family is trapped in this area and needs to rescue them while Predators are rampaging through the city hunting prey. They liked the idea but eventually decided to go with Shane Black and his story. Shane Black’s The Predator was released in 2018.
Predators was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 19, 2010. The special features include a commentary with producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal, motion comics and various behind-the-scenes featurettes. The Blu-Ray version comes with more featurettes and deleted scenes. In August 2018, 20th Century Fox released the Predator trilogy on 4K Blu-Ray for the first time. The 4K version of Predators cannot currently be bought on its own and must be bought as part of the Predator Trilogy 4K Set or the Predator 4-Movie 4K Set.
Dark Horse released a 4-issue comic book based on Predators on June 9, 2010 to promote the film. They serve as a prequel, adaptation and sequel to the events in the movie. We particularly learn more about the characters backgrounds which we never saw in the movie. A Predators novelization was also released on July 27, 2010 which was written by Paul Tobin.
NECA released some action figures based on the predators in the film on July 9, 2010. These are a Masked Classic Predator, an Unmasked Berserker Predator and the Tracker Predator. The Predator ‘Dog’ was released in March 2011. Hot Toys and Sideshow Collectibles also made props, maquettes and figures based on Predators. A mobile video game was also released for IOS on July 2, 2010, Mac on June 10, 2011 and Android in November 2012. It was developed by Angry Mob Games and published by Chillingo.
You can find more images on Predators Concept Art.