08th Nov2017

Culture Dump #16: Why did the ‘Predator’ franchise miss the mark?

by Simon Bland

predator-searching-for-dutch

Xenomorphs weren’t the only extraterrestrial terror hunting humans throughout the eighties. Not long after James Cameron pulled the trigger on his testosterone-charged sequel Aliens, Director John McTiernan introduced us to a new intergalactic hunter with Predator in 1987. Two war movies, two alien franchises, two very different legacies. However as Predator closes in on its thirtieth birthday, it’s hard not to think the series somehow failed to capitalise on its full potential. With Shane Black’s upcoming retooling The Predator all that could change - but what went wrong during those intervening years that set the Predator so off course?

Maybe it can all be traced back to one single event: the mishandling of the film’s original sequel. The late eighties were good for John McTiernan. Having unleashed Predator onto audiences he doubled-down on the machismo theme with Die Hard a year later. However when the time came to follow up his alien movie with a sequel in 1990 his asking salary had doubled, pricing him out of Predator 2’s scant budget. To make matters worse, star Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped out too, due to either a salary dispute, clashing schedules or an unsatisfactory script. The exact reasons are still up for debate but one thing remains concrete: audiences were denied the continuation of Dutch’s story.

Had the pair signed on for another round, their combined presence may have given the Predator franchise a lease of life worthy of challenging Sigourney Weaver’s still-developing Alien anthology. Salvage attempts were reignited throughout the 90s with ideas for a proposed third movie entitled Predator 3: Deadlier of the Species reintroducing us to Dutch in a blizzard-ravaged New York City for another space-invader scuffle. Then there was The Zoo, an amalgamation threequel that bundled Dutch with Danny Glover’s Predator 2 hero Harrigan and shipped them both off for a stint in the wilds of the Predator’s home planet. Both intriguing concepts that unfortunately never saw the light of day.

Instead, the Predator found itself relegated to bargain-bin adventures. There was ‘meh’ crossover cash-in Alien Vs Predator in 2004 and its equally tedious 2007 sequel AVP: Requiem. Then Robert Rodriguez took a stab in 2010’s Predators, a stand-alone sequel that felt more like a Friday night popcorn movie than a worthy continuation. While new directors certainly don’t spell doom for a franchise, stripping Predator of both its original helmer and star so early on seems to have inflicted wounds that are difficult to heal. Perhaps the key to Alien’s continued success is down to the lynchpin figure of Ripley, tying things together either in person or in spirit. With the Predator currently lacking a concrete foe to face, it could be some time before it emerges from the wilderness and into a worthy battle arena.

Where do you think the Predator franchise went wrong? Let us know in the comments section below!

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One Response to “Culture Dump #16: Why did the ‘Predator’ franchise miss the mark?”

  • Gene

    The Predator franchise lacks the chemistry and vision of the original. The suspense developed in the original, is killed within 5 minutes of every sequel.
    The raw practical effects, on location film site, limited use of cg, and the director being able to orchestrate the vision into an entertaining story….that is the magic.
    A prequel is the salvation for Predator, the Jim Hopper story, with multiple hunters.