Is Remaking ROBOCOP Making Director Jose Padilha “Bitter”?

Even at the best of times, working on a Hollywood studio film can be a pressure cooker experience. But when that film is hoped to relaunch a franchise at studio that has been fighting its way back from bankruptcy and I would imagine that the pressure only increases exponentially. That certainly seems to be the case with Brazilian director Jose Padilha who is currently prepping MGM’s Robocop remake.

According to his friend and fellow director Fernando Mereilles, Padilha has been butting heads with MGM on a number of issues and is becoming “bitter” over the entire experiences. This comes from an interview Mereilles did with Portuguese film site Cinemacom Rapadura and translated by the folks over at Screen Crush

I talked to José Padilha for a week by phone. He will begin filming Robocop. He is saying that it is the worst experience. For every 10 ideas he has, 9 are cut. Whatever he wants, he has to fight. “This is hell here,” he told me. “The film will be good, but I never suffered so much and do not want to do it again.” He is bitter, but it’s a fighter.

Even with the vagaries that may be in the translations, it is easy to see that Padilha does not seem to be having an easy time on the project.

But this isn’t really surprising. As I mentioned above, as MGM struggles back from its most recent bankruptcy it is looking at the new Robocop film to launch a continuing franchise that they can count on for continuous revenue going forward. As such, every aspect of the production is going to be scrutinized and very probably over-thought by executives who are more experienced at bean counting than they are at telling a story or making a movie. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised that Padilha was hired not so much for his experience in directing action films like Elite Squad in his native Brazil, but because he doesn’t really have any real clout in Hollywood and therefore was perceived as someone whom they could push around.

So, does this mean that the production is in trouble? That’s hard to say. The film’s prospects certainly don’t seem all too positive following the blistering twitter review its screenplay recently got. And just this past week actor Hugh Laurie passed on participating in the film right as his deal was being finalized.

But we’re still a long ways off from the film’s final cut being delivered to the studio and there’s a lot of time for Padilha to fight to make whatever changes he feels are in the project’s best interests.

Production is set to start next month in Toronto, with a cast that will include Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Abbie Cornish, Jennifer Ehle, Jackie Earle Haley, Jay Baruchel, Michael K. Williams, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste. It is scheduled for an August 9, 2013 release.

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About Rich Drees 7153 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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