The film directed by Stephen Hopkins (without Arnold Schwarzenegger) didn’t do so well at the box office but in the intervening years has ammassed a cult following…
Predator 2, the sequel to the 1987 box office hit Predator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, came out in US cinemas at the end of November 1990 (on the 21st to be precise) so it has thirty years of history under its belt. Let’s celebrate the occasion and take another look at it.
A story directed by Stephen Hopkins, with the screenplay by brothers Jim and John Thomas and a huge cast which naturally included stuntman Kevin Peter Hall in the part of the alien monster Predator.
Not to mention Robert Davi (who played the Bond villain in Licence to Kill), Adam Baldwin (the soldier “Animal” in Full Metal Jacket), Bill Paxton (fresh from the excellent Aliens), Gary Busey and, last but not least, guest star Danny Glover (famous for the Lethal Weapon series alongside Mel Gibson) as police lieutenant Mike Harrigan charged with solving a mystery involving brutal ritual murders in 1997 Los Angeles (even though the movie was made in 1990 it was set in a dystopic near future) rocked by the bloody clash between rival gangs for control of drug trafficking in the city.
Predator 2, which meanwhile has become a cult movie for several generations of film lovers, “only” grossed 57 million dollars compared with the 98 grossed by the original in 1987. That one had been directed by John McTiernan who, subsequently would reappear on the set of Hunt for Red October and two great episodes of the Die Hard series with Bruce Willis.
The punters grumbled at the time about the “missed opportunities” in the script-writing phase, as remarked upon in 2017 by Jim Thomas who, back in 1990, was forced to make compromises by the Hollywood studios. They saw Predator 2 as a metropolitan action movie with the equatorial jungle of the first movie replaced by the asphalt jungle in the sequel.
In the words of Thomas: “Originally, we had this brilliant idea of starting Predator 2 with the end of the first movie, in the exact same place in the jungle where the explosion took place that was caused by Dutch/Schwarzenegger. The first thing you would see would be the invisible feet of the alien, hand digging in the ground among the ash and dust, pulling out the arm of the poor dead Predator. At that point our “hero” would have activated the computer giving us a recording of everything that had happened up to that moment, discovering that one of its species had in fact been killed by Arnold’s character….”.
But “Arnold’s character” (the legendary soldier Alan “Dutch” Schaefer) was no longer part of the team since Schwarzenegger dropped out, utterly unconvinced by the idea of fighting in an urban setting.
Schwarzy, to tell the truth, was also unimpressed by the fact that his role had been reduced to a sort of “villain” compared with the original 1987 film, was less than thrilled by the choice of director Stephen Hopkins (who came from horror and had just done a wrap on Nightmare on Elm Street 5 – The Dream Child) and, to make matters worse, was being offered 250 thousand dollars less than what had been initially agreed. So it was so long Arnold.
“Once Schwarzenegger was out of the picture,” continues Thomas, “we thought about setting the film during the Second World War, during the Ardenne offensive, right in the middle of a freezing winter. A German platoon and an American platoon, cut off during the battle, would have to join forces against the menace of the Predator, but Hollywood turned this down too,” And they went back to the conventional final location of Los Angeles.
The lukewarm reception of Predator 2 put the franchise on hold until 2004 when everybody’s favourite space monster returned in the crossover experiment Alien vs. Predator and was resurrected for good in the sequel Predators in 2010 and what amounted almost to a reboot in 2018’s The Predator.