Fred Dekker blames studio interference for The Predator failure

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

The Predator Shane Black

Hiring PREDATOR co-star Shane Black, who has written some of the coolest action movies of the last thirty-two years, to direct a new Predator sequel and co-write the script with his THE MONSTER SQUAD collaborator Fred Dekker seemed like a great idea at the time. But when THE PREDATOR arrived in theatres last year, it was not the movie many fans were hoping for. It wasn't well received, and didn't do well at the box office. 

So what went wrong? The trouble started during production, when reshoots completely changed the third act. When asked about the leaked set pics that showed Predators working alongside the heroes and riding on military vehicles with them, Dekker explained to moviefone, 

I think we were halfway through the shoot. Um, we had devised a sequence which, which I confessed was my idea, which was essentially, our heroes have to get from point A to point B and they commandeer a military convoy. And at that point in the film, we had established a pair of Predator emissaries, basically good guy predators. What was interesting to Shane and I was to ask a question that nobody seems to give a shit about, which is, what do predators do, except for hunt? Because they've invented interstellar spacecraft. So they're not stupid. They're not just a bunch of Arkansas rednecks who come to Earth to play the most dangerous game. They actually have a civilization and a culture. And presumably that's worth exploring since none of the other movies do it.

So our idea was that their planet is dying. And so they've decided to take what previously was explored, which is to dope up creatures with the DNA of other types of predators from alien worlds and create new targets for their hunt. But now they realized, well, hey, we need maybe to upgrade ourselves just to survive. And then they go to themselves, well, hey, earth is warming up. We like a warm environment. Maybe we should move in. So the premise of the movie is that in the third act was these two predators come aboard the ship and everybody's freaking out and the predators actually want to communicate. They want to say, “Hey, we’ve got a problem, you have a problem. Maybe we should team up.”

So that whole convoy was trying to get the emissaries to the ship to get away and they were going to be chased by A, the upgrade who we meet in the finished version of the movie and B, and this was a huge change from our initial premise, is that at the beginning of the movie, you see the first Predator that shows up in the movie. He leaves the ship and we push in on this container in the ship. And what they ended up with was the terrible ending that I have nothing to do with it. Shane didn't write either. That was sort of someone decided it was a good idea.

There's something on the ship. Well, originally there was a whole bunch of those in the ship. And what those were was those were the gestating hybrids. Essentially what they were nurturing and growing in these pods were the hybrids of Predator DNA mixed with the DNA of creatures from all over the galaxy that would enable them to basically eradicate mankind so that they could populate it themselves. And so the convoy chase, the idea was that it would be all of our heroes on these badass, big military vehicles and the upgrade releases the hybrids and chases them and the hybrids jump onto the convoy. And it's a big, rootin’, tootin’ fantastic action sequence.

Shane storyboarded it. And we had a pre-viz and animatics and it was I think a really cool idea. At some point or another, the studio, I think, and I'm not pointing fingers at anyone in particular, but there were these misgivings that we were straying too far from what people expected the movie to be. And so we sat down and went, “I guess we need to do a hunt and it needs to be at night, so it's scarier.” So we ended up going in that direction, which I don't think served us because it didn't top anything we'd seen before. I’m actually quite pleased with the first half of the movie, but it kind of goes off the rails by, and Hollywood does this all the time by, trying to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.

I think that the convoy chase should have been done at night to be scarier. And I argued for it, but I was just the co-writer, if I’d been a producer on the movie, they would have listened to me more. But believe it or not, that's the short version of how it became what it is. … I believe the convoy chase, had we done it and had we done it at night, would have been something that had never been seen before in a movie. Whether you think it's a Predator movie or not is up to you. But I thought it would have been cool."

We'll never know how effective that convoy chase filled with hybrid creatures would have been, but the hunt ending that's in the finished film is very underwhelming. It couldn't have been worse than that.

Later Dekker provided more detail on how that "terrible ending" came about. In the final moments, the military finds themselves in possession of a hi-tech, war machine Predator Killer suit that makes it seem like Black forgot what movie he was working on and thought he was back on the set of IRON MAN 3. But as Dekker mentioned, neither he nor Black came up with that Predator Killer scene.

We shot it. I wrote that very last line. But I wasn’t happy about it. The whole thing seemed to not be in step with that particular franchise. It was one of many ideas that we floated and shot. We shot a version where Ripley was in the cocoon and we shot one where Newt from “Aliens” was in the cocoon. Sigourney didn’t want to clear any future for Ripley in the franchise and ultimately I don’t think anybody remembers Newt well enough for that to have meant anything."

Dekker also confirmed that he and Black very much wanted original PREDATOR star Arnold Schwarzenegger to be in their film, in what sounds like it would have been a very brief cameo. 

…what we had written was a cameo that would have spring-boarded into a major role in any sequel. He decided it wasn’t enough of a role and nobody was willing to put money on the possibility of a sequel. He would be taking a pay cut. He would have said, “Come with me if you want to live.” Shane had a talk with Arnold but at the end of the day, the sequel wasn’t a done deal and this is really not a lot of screen time for Arnold to go and fly to Canada and do a half day."

It's unfortunate that THE PREDATOR didn't turn out the way Black, Dekker, and many fans hoped it would. It probably would have been better without the studio interference, but I don't think an appearance by Ripley or Newt, or even having Schwarzenegger show up to drop a line from the TERMINATOR franchise would have improved it.

Source: moviefone

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.