While everyone in North America disappointingly slept on “The Nice Guys” (hey folks, if you want Hollywood to keep making R-rated movies, you have to go see some, especially when they’re as good as this), the film is rolling out overseas where hopefully moviegoers will give it a better shake. Crossing the pond to help get the word out is director Shane Black and his longtime producer Joel Silver: the pair sat down for a live Q&A with Empire, and just as the talk was wrapping up, a little bombshell was revealed.
The next movie on Black’s plate will be the blockbuster remake “The Predator,” and while he’s spent much of “The Nice Guys” press tour being asked questions about it, he’s trying to keep as much as possible undisclosed. However, the big mystery has been whether or not Arnold Schwarzenegger would be returning, with reports indicating that the actor was meeting with Black earlier this year. The writer/director has played coy, saying there were two ideas they could move forward with, one with Schwarzenegger in the film and one without. “I’m not going to tell you which one we chose, but we made a choice that I think is cool and we’ll see what happens,” he said last month.
And while Black hasn’t said that Arnie isn’t in the movie, it certainly looks like he won’t be the lead.
“The name I’ve given the [hero] in ‘Predator’ right now is Quinn Mackenna. And that may change,” he said. So does that mean Arnie/Dutch Schaefer is out entirely? Time will tell, but it’s certainly clear the heroics in the next chapter in the franchise will come from someone else.
However, until the movie arrives on February 9, 2018, Black is going to do all he can to make sure there are plenty of surprises when you hit the multiplex.
“We live in a culture where everyone’s like, ‘[I want to] know everything about it before it comes out, and I want to be able to see every moment, and i’m gonna go back and forth on the goddamn YouTube channel and get every goddamn moment and every Easter egg.’ [But] I’ll tell you a little bit about it,” he explained. “It’s an attempt to event-ize the ‘Predator’ and make it more mysterious. ‘The Predator’ has been so overdone in a way —very low budget with a guaranteed return, every couple of years there’s a knock off churned out. It’s gotta get to the point where people buy their tickets in advance instead of saying, ‘Oh honey look, another ‘Predator’ movie. No, Adam Sandler’s got this thing on TV, let’s do that instead.’ I want people to say, ‘’The Predator’ is coming, I know it’s coming, we want to see it, it’s mysterious, interesting, it’s got the same sense of wonderment and newness that ‘Close Encounters’ had when that came out.’ That’s what we want. That’s very impossible to achieve, but we’re going to try.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the conversation pivots around a variety of topics, including the ‘Lethal Weapon‘ series. Black has already said plenty about “Lethal Weapon 5” which never got off the ground, but what you might not know is that if things had gone his way, the franchise never would’ve continued past the second movie.
“Shane [was] a smart, caustic young guy, and wanted to kind of show the world he knew what he was doing and he decided to kill Martin Riggs in act 2 [of ‘Lethal Weapon 2‘], and spare us two other movies [laughs],” Silver said. “But the studio didn’t think that was such a good idea, so we didn’t do that. But most of the story of ‘Lethal 2’ was Shane’s, and most of the set up and pay off were Shane’s.”
While the basic framework was Black’s, the rewritten script was a lot lighter in tone, but he used the opportunity of being slightly sidelined on the sequel to start working on something else.
“He came back with thirty, forty pages of a new script which he had called ‘Die Hard.’ And I had been making a movie which was called ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ which is about a guy who goes into a building on Christmas Eve,” Silver said.
As you’re probably already putting together, Silver asked Black if could take the title of his script, and it became the name of the Bruce Willis action flick we all know and love. And as for Black’s script? It became known as “The Last Boy Scout.”
Fast forward to 2008, and Warner Bros. came knocking on Silver’s door about potentially doing “Lethal Weapon 5,” and he wasn’t particularly keen on it.
“When we did ‘Lethal Weapon 4,’ at the end of the movie, I kind of closed the book [on the franchise], I didn’t know if I wanted to do it again. But they said, ‘Why don’t we try to think about it? Could we do it?’ This is before the kind of epic meltdown that Mel [Gibson] went through,” Silver said. “We talked about it, and Shane did a really nice treatment, and it was good. It was effective. But at the end of the day, everybody felt, we’re not gonna do that.”
“It was a 62-page scriptment, with dialogue,” Black clarified, and you can read more about the pitch for the movie, set during the worst blizzard in New York City history, right here.
However, while Black is primarily known for his buddy action fare, he’s been toying with a pretty interesting mashup of genres in a new screenplay, although he hasn’t quite been able to crack it just yet.
“It’s still in the hopper, I never finished it. It was supposed to be time travel done as horror, and I couldn’t figure out the time travel of it. It got too confusing for me,” he said. “But I’ll still go back to it. I love the idea of time travel as horror, but I can’t keep my head straight when I’m trying to write it. I keep violating my own rules.”
Shane Black breaking the rules? Even his own? Sounds about right. “The Nice Guys” is now playing. Seriously, go see it. Listen to the full talk below.