Why We Never Got These Predator Movies

One of the most iconic science fiction action franchises is "Predator," which began with the eponymous movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987. While "Predator" is regarded as an action classic, attempts to follow up on its success have since had considerably more mixed results. The series has seen a number of sequels, revivals, and crossovers with the "Alien" franchise, with varying levels of critical and commercial reception. However, for every "Predator" movie that has seen the light of day, there are plenty of projects that were canceled or altered significantly.

From failed attempts to bring Schwarzenegger back in the fold to star in additional installments or sequel plans shelved by disappointing box office, there are lots of discarded "Predator" movies. This includes the studio shuffling pitches and filmmakers in their hopes to keep the franchise relevant and recapture the 1987 movie's magic. Here's a roster of "Predator" movies that were once in development but ultimately never made, including details on why each project was completely retooled or canceled outright.

Predator 2 with Arnold Schwarzenegger

After the success of "Predator," the studio brought back screenwriters Jim & John Thomas to pen a sequel, with the extra-terrestrial hunter stalking its prey in the streets of Los Angeles. The original movie's star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is omitted entirely, replaced by Danny Glover as the new protagonist, Mike Harrigan. Though Glover does an admirable enough job, the void left by Schwarzenegger is acutely felt. However, there were tentative plans to bring back Schwarzenegger's deadly mercenary character, Dutch Schaefer, before settling on a completely new cast.

Director Stephen Hopkins revealed that he met with Schwarzenegger during the development of "Predator 2," but the action hero dropped out of the project "at the last second." Hopkins theorized that Schwarzenegger opted to reunite with filmmaker James Cameron for "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" rather than return for a "Predator" sequel. Producer John Davis claims that Schwarzenegger's departure was caused by a pay dispute over his salary for the project. Instead, the production considered Patrick Swayze and Steven Seagal before ultimately casting Glover to take on the lead role.

The Hunt: Alien vs. Predator

The possibility of a crossover between the "Predator" and "Alien" franchises has existed since Dark Horse Comics began publishing "Aliens versus Predator" comics in 1989. "Predator 2" ends with the tease that the Predators have hunted the xenomorphs from the "Alien" franchise, with a xenomorph skull displayed in the Predator ship. Screenwriter Peter Briggs wrote a spec script formally pitching the film project to Fox back in 1991. Briggs' planned movie was titled "The Hunt: Alien vs. Predator," featuring a faraway human colony caught in the crossfire between the warring species.

Instead of moving forward with the crossover, however, Fox opted to produce a fourth "Alien" film in 1994, in what eventually became 1997's "Alien: Resurrection." Subsequent plans for a crossover were pitched by screenwriters James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox but were rejected by producer John Davis in 2002. Davis reportedly wanted a different direction for the crossover rather than echoing the line of comics and video games released throughout the '90s. This led to 2004's "Alien vs. Predator," which featured its own original story set on Earth in present-day.

Predator 3

With plans for an "Alien vs. Predator" movie shelved in 1994, Fox decided to make a sequel to "Predator 2" instead of a crossover. Screenwriter Alex Litvak pitched a third "Predator" movie that had Schwarzenegger's Dutch living in relative exile since the events of the 1987 original film. In the pitch, Dutch receives a distress signal from a crashed ship at a remote location, hinting at a new Predator resurfacing and those in danger looking for his assistance. However, this all proves to be an elaborate trap by a whole crew of Predators looking to draw Dutch into an ambush.

Litvak's pitch was shot down by the studio, who informed him that Schwarzenegger was not interested in reprising his role as Dutch. Litvak also speculated that the lukewarm reception to "Predator 2" and "Alien Resurrection" effectively put both franchises on ice at the time. Years later, Litvak would eventually co-write 2010's "Predators," which was produced by a fan-favorite filmmaker developing their own "Predator" sequel pitch: Robert Rodriguez.

Predators, directed by Robert Rodriguez

Alex Litvak wasn't the only name attached to a "Predator 2" sequel. After the success of "El Mariachi," while developing 1995's gunslinging sequel "Desperado," filmmaker Robert Rodriguez pitched a third "Predator" film. The proposed "Predator 3" featured everything from swashbuckling Spanish pirates and human-Predator hybrids to the return of Schwarzenegger's Dutch. The movie had warriors from different historical eras abducted to a planet that served as a hunting ground for Predators.

Rodriguez's pitch was deemed too ambitious, given the special effects technology available at the time. Plus, the projected production budget was too high for the studio at the time. In 2009, Fox contacted Rodriguez about the possibility of using his pitch for what became 2010's "Predators." Though Rodriguez took an active role as the project's producer, the pitch was rewritten by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch, with Nimród Antal directing. Aside from the change in directors, the final film is far different from Rodriguez's initial pitch, omitting Dutch, the Spanish pirates, and hybrid Predators entirely.

Alien vs. Predator 3

Long-standing plans for an "Alien vs. Predator" movie finally came true in 2004, and the sequel "Alien vs. Predator: Requiem" followed in 2007. Ahead of the movie's release, visual effects supervisor Liam O'Donnell wrote a treatment for another sequel. Picking up from the tease at the end of "Requiem," a third "AvP" movie was set 20 years after "Requiem," with the Weyland-Yutani Corporation successfully reverse-engineering the Predator's advanced technology. Now a powerful megacorporation, Weyland-Yutani's business operations in Africa are disrupted by new and more formidable xenomorphs and Predators.

Meanwhile, brothers Greg & Colin Strause, who directed "Requiem" together, had their own plans for a direct sequel. The Strause Brothers intended to use the Weyland-Yutani tease to catapult the franchises back into the future and off-world for a battle across the stars. However, while "Requiem" was an overall commercial success, it significantly underperformed at the domestic box office, earning only $41 million. Plans for a direct sequel were quietly tabled by the studio in favor of the standalone "Predators."

Vincenzo Natali's Predators

Among the directors considered to take the reins on "Predators" was Vincenzo Natali, who directed the 1997 sci-fi horror cult classic "Cube." As Natali was finishing work on 2009's "Splice," he was approached to potentially helm "Predators." According to Natali, he was encouraged not to use Robert Rodriguez's script, just retaining the basic premise of humans being hunted on an alien planet by Predators. Natali met with Rodriguez and several studio executives as he developed his own pitch for "Predators."

Working with creature designer Amro Attia and concept artist Dan Milligan, Natali assembled art as part of his unsuccessful pitch for the project. Natali shared some of the unused artwork publicly in 2015, remarking that developing the pitch was fun because of the creative freedom he was given. The artwork reveals radically redesigned Predators and what appears to be a structure modeled after a Predator's head. With Nimród Antal given the directorial duties instead, Natali's vision for "Predators" remains a fascinating glimpse at what could've been.

Predators 2

Ahead of the release of "Predators," Robert Rodriguez and Nimród Antal had a number of ideas for a follow-up to the movie. Rodriguez considered a prequel could be made focused on Laurence Fishburne's character Noland, who had been stranded on the Predator planet sometime before the events of "Predators." Beyond direct sequels or prequels, Rodriguez felt the introduction of a Predator planet opened the franchise to numerous creative opportunities. After the movie's release, both Rodriguez and actor Adrien Brody expressed their interest in being involved in a sequel to "Predators."

Despite receiving a better critical reception than "Alien vs. Predator: Requiem," however, the film earned less at the worldwide box office. "Predators" raked in $127 million worldwide, with only $52 million of that coming from the domestic box office. In the face of this middling response, the studio brought on filmmaker Shane Black, who appeared in the original "Predator" as an actor and made uncredited script contributions. Black's 2018 movie, "The Predator," took a fresh approach to the franchise that didn't need to address "Predators" at all.

The Predator 2

"The Predator" saw its own extensive retooling during post-production, including a number of different endings planned for the 2018 movie to set up a potential sequel. Prior to the movie's release, longtime franchise producer John Davis hoped "The Predator" would set up its own trilogy. "The Predator" ends with protagonist Quinn McKenna planning to use an advanced war suit to take the fight back to the Predators. This ending was one of several that were planned during production, including an intended return of Schwarzenegger's Dutch.

After Schwarzenegger passed on reprising his role as Dutch yet again, multiple alternate endings were filmed for "The Predator," setting up another "Alien vs. Predator" crossover. Instead of the warsuit, planned endings included time-displaced appearances by "Alien" protagonist Ellen Ripley, with another substituting her for Newt from "Aliens." Actor Breanna Watkins played both characters separately, hinting that a backstory for their possible inclusion had been conceived. After "The Predator" underperformed commercially, plans for a direct sequel were shelved in favor of the acclaimed period piece "Prey," released in 2022.

Now we're waiting to see what kind of "Predator" movies that "Prey" director Dan Trachtenberg is cooking up at 20th Century Studios.