In an era which finds the major Hollywood studios chasing high-profile blockbuster franchises for better (the ongoing, successful Marvel Cinematic Universe) or worse (Fox’s Fantastic Four), a less-than-sure bet has been the quasi-reboot of semi-dormant properties. The past few years have seen a number of such projects, but director José Padilha’s 2014 update of RoboCop fell somewhere in the middle when it came to total box office and critical reception.
Paul Verhoeven’s cult 1987 RoboCop was followed by a two sequels and two television series, none of which captured the audience’s imagination like the original. The world had already seen a popular 1980s property given a modern update to middling reception with 2012’s Total Recall, so fans were highly skeptical that a new RoboCop could work. With the reviews overall so-so (read ours here) and the film probably breaking even at the box office, a sequel is hard to justify.
Since the studio behind the 2014 RoboCop was Sony, a company which suffered possibly the worst corporate hack in history, it is perhaps not surprising that a RoboCop follow-up is probably not its highest priority. Now, a new report suggest that this is an accurate assessment, but that the studio wouldn’t dismiss the notion outright.
According to Den of Geek, the lack of updates on the sequel front doesn’t mean the franchise is dead. According to their report:
“…it’s not a closed project at Sony, although it doesn’t appear to be one the studio is heavily pursuing. Nonetheless, we understand that it is still welcoming pitches for a further RoboCop venture. Our source confirmed that Sony hasn’t shut the project down, although it doesn’t appear to be a high priority.”
2014’s RoboCop had a reported $100 million production budget, making back just under $59 million domestically but taking in $184 million internationally. Given the huge amount of advertising and PR needed for these kinds of movie, however, it’s likely that in the end RoboCop merely broke even. This kind of performance makes a sequel difficult to justify.
However, RoboCop‘s overseas box office haul could be the key to a sequel. The situation is similar to that of this past summer’s Terminator: Genisys, another revival of a dormant property which pulled in underwhelming numbers in the United States, but did much better overseas. In fact, the success of Terminator in the rest of the world will likely keep the franchise alive, making RoboCop‘s international take a possible factor in its sequel prospects.
With web-based media outlet Machinima planning a RoboCop web series, the property might just be able to gain enough of an audience to inspire mainstream excitement for a big-screen sequel. The reboot’s slick action sequences and overall intriguing approach to world-building never managed to click with audiences who were probably expecting something along the lines of the original’s broad, over-the-top tone. If a sequel moves forward, a shift in tone may be necessary to make the concept fall more in line with the expectations of fans.
Stay tuned for updates on the future of RoboCop as they become available.