Shane Black on what Prey did right that The Predator did wrong

Chris Tilly
A poster for Shane Black's The Predator20th Century Studios

The Predator writer-director Shane Black has been discussing why his take on the character didn’t connect with audiences in the same way that new movie Prey has.

Shane Black appeared in the original Predator movie in 1987, just as his screenwriting career was taking off. He soon became the highest-paid scribe in Hollywood, and then started directing his own scripts.

In 2018, he went back to the beginning, co-writing The Predator with longtime friend and collaborator Fred Dekker, and directing that script.

But the resulting film failed to impress critics, scoring just 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Predator was also only a modest hit, grossing $160 million from an $88 million budget, when financial expectations were much higher than that.

What went wrong with The Predator?

Speaking to a podcast – somewhat fittingly – called Post Mortem, Black said that working on the movie was a lot of fun, at first, but soon became a source of frustration.

“We tried,” Black explains. “I’ll take the hits for whatever I did wrong on that in terms of… I just didn’t make the Predator movie that people wanted to see, apparently.”

The host then asks about studio interference, particularly with the film’s third act, but Black bats that away.

“I’m not going to take the road of blaming anyone – including the studio – for a failed movie,” Black continues. “We tried something different. In retrospect – talking of finger on the pulse – I guess we just didn’t have that finger.”

The Predator vs. Prey

Amber Midthunder in Prey, a prequel to Predator.20th Century Studios
Prey took a very different approach to The Predator.

Though he doesn’t mention new Predator movie Prey by name, Shane Black then compares their contrasting approaches to the material.

Black says: “We were making a drive-in movie, and it seems like what now is attracting so much attention is this wonderful art piece which just came out, which has echoes of Kubrick. That maybe is something we should have done instead. But who knows?

“We tried something different. It was a Halloween drive-in movie. Not just a drive-in movie – one you go to on Halloween, when you were a kid. The Predator had such a rock-solid fanbase of people expecting that sort of more portentous, solemn, and almost reverential approach to this myth.

“The mythic quality of the Predator is what people seem to respond to so chalk it up as we tried something, [and] in some people’s eyes, we made the wrong movie, we filmed the wrong script, for what they would have preferred. I’m OK with that, and own any and all mistakes made on the film.”

Prey is currently streaming on Hulu (in the US) and Disney+ (in the UK) and you can read our review here.

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