RoboCop Returns Just Lost Its Director, So What Happens Now

Robocop holding a gun on the mean streets of Detroit

Movies are sometimes too good to be true, and every so often we’re painfully reminded of that fact when a promising project gets shot down in its prime. Writer/director Neill Blomkamp’s Robocop sequel, Robocop Returns, is the latest example of a good thing ending too soon, as Blomkamp and the project have parted ways.

We’ll still be getting Robocop Returns though, and that’s part of what makes this news painful. In a tweet issued this morning, Neill Blomkamp announced his departure, and the reasons behind it, as follows:

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If you’re really excited about another RoboCop movie under any circumstances, then you’re probably pleased to know that RoboCop Returns isn’t cancelled. Rather, the film is still going forward into production, as the studio wishes, and Blomkamp is leaving because he’s got a horror-thriller in the works that he’s excited to get up and running.

However, for those who wanted to see what Neill Blomkamp was about to deliver with Robocop Returns, this is indeed a dark day. It only gets darker when you measure it up against the fact that the District 9 creator is now two for two on failing to bring his bold vision to legendary ‘80s franchises. Let’s not forget, studio politics allegedly robbed the man of making his vision for Alien 5 in the recent past.

The brief history of Robocop Returns and Blomkamp started a little over a year ago, when he was announced as the man who would bring Robocop Returns into the future, providing a direct sequel to the 1987 classic that would ignore both sequels and the 2014 reboot. From there, all sorts of wild prospects seemed to be possible.

Producer/series co-creator Ed Neumeier, one of the instrumental figures that brought the original Robocop to life, had hinted that Neill Blomkamp and co-writer Justin Rhodes may have been working on an updated version of the original sequel that he and co-writer Michael Miner had crafted back in the ‘80s. Though much like the current situation that the director described on Twitter, that original concept was also scrapped by a studio wanting to get a film out to the public as soon as possible.

There was even some brief hope that this sequel would be the one to bring Peter Weller back to the Robocop fold, as Blomkamp put that wish out into the universe in hopes it’d pay off for Robocop Returns. Alas, the closest we’ve gotten to that big ask coming true is a series of KFC commercials Weller had done in character, as the chances of a full Robocop renaissance with the actor don’t look good.

As it stand, Robocop Returns is still a go picture. It just needs a director, and more than likely will start to mutate into something different from the original vision that Neill Blomkamp fiercely held as the future of the franchise. While it could still be one hell of a follow-up, depending on who steps into the director’s chair, that doesn’t wash away the fact that having Blomkamp on board was a huge factor in the excitement behind this film.

We’ll see what happens from this point on, as Robocop Returns hasn’t released an official release date, but is clearly in MGM/Orion’s sights as a going concern for the near future. If it’s anything as clever as the recent Child’s Play reboot, we could be lucky; but at this moment, it’s too hard to tell.

However, it’s much easier for you to find your next night out at the movies, as the 2019 release schedule is available to show you what’s coming in the weeks and months ahead.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.