MGM, Columbia Pictures, and Strike Entertainment (of Hemlock Grove fame) are betting $100 million (or 232 million Brazilian Real) on the box office success of RoboCop the remake. Scheduled for a February 2014 release, the sci-fi film is once again set in the corrupt city of Detroit, 2028. The protagonist is, again, Alex Murphy (now played by Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman). Murphy is a good cop who when injured in the line of duty is sought out by the evil conglomeration OmniCorp (led by Michael Keaton) to become a RoboCop (part-man, part-robot police officer).
So what’s changed since the original RoboCop was released 27 years ago? Money, for starters; the original was produced for just $13 million and grossed over $8 million in its opening weekend. And while the writers are the same (Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner) the director of the remake is José Padilha, the Brazilian filmmaker who created Elite Squad, a semi-fictional account of the Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE), the Special Police Operations Squad of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police, analogous to the American SWAT teams. When released in 2007, Elite Squad became one of the most popular Brazilian movies in history. 77% of Sao Paulo residents knew about the movie. 2.5 million Brazilians paid to see it at the theaters, with no promotion other than billboards. Trying for another cultural phenomenon albeit in English, Padilha has recruited his Elite Squad director of music Pedro Bromfman, director of photography Lula Carvalho, and editor Daniel Rezende to work on RoboCop. This time, though, there will be more than billboards backing up the $100 million wager.