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RoboCop firing again with 'Elite Squad' director Jose Padilha

March 1, 2011 |  2:47 pm

Many film fans have been eagerly anticipating a reboot of the '80s action film "RoboCop," but the project has been troubled for several years. Now, though, with studio MGM back in business under new ownership, "RoboCop" is back in active development and could soon get a boost from an international director.

Jose Padilha, the Brazilian director behind the well-regarded "Elite Squad" films, is in negotiations to direct the new version, according to a person who was briefed on the project but was not authorized to speak about it publicly. The studio is also seeking a new version of the script; "Road to Perdition" writer David Self penned the most recent draft.

A spokeswoman for MGM declined to comment.

Padilha won the Golden Bear, the Berlin Film Festival's highest honor, in 2008 for "Elite Squad," a story of cops and corruption in his native Rio de Janeiro. He followed it up with a sequel that played the recent Berlin Film Festival, and has said he'd like to direct a third installment.

The filmmaker has been courted by Hollywood studios for years. He was developing a spy thriller,  "The Sigma Protocol," with Universal, based on the Robert Ludlum bestseller.

Darren Aronofsky was attached to a "RoboCop" project for several years, but with MGM's financial troubles stymying the project in development, he went off and made "Black Swan" instead (which worked out pretty well for him).

Paul Verhoeven's 1987 original was a box-office hit and even ended up on some critics' year-end lists. Set in the near future, it told of a Detroit policeman who was murdered, then reconstituted as a kind of supercop with robotic capabilities. A sequel followed three years later. The new version is expected to make hay with modern technology.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Padilha at the recent Berlin Film Festival. Credit: Arno Burgi / EPA