The Predator release date

Your movies seem more preoccupied with humanism, bringing a certain subtext to it. Tom Jane said he thinks war is terrible and he doesn’t think this movie is glorifying it. Can you talk about that? 

Yeah, that was important to me, because when I grew up war movies were not about the thrill of war in the ‘70’s, they were about the horror of war, but they still celebrated the camaraderie of the men. And, I guess that’s where we are now. But, I love also dipping a toe in that right-wing pond every once in a while, cause I’m an avowed liberal. But, every once in a while, you get your mad helm on and say, what would happen if you just executed assignments and didn’t ask about moral questions. Just get it done, y’know? I like the mentality of guys available who do that, but then who have been damaged by that. And so, we get a little taste, I think, of characters who aren’t as comfortable, but who are also killers. Ultimately, no matter how they may feel about it, they have a certain set of skills that can’t be turned off. The faucet can be reduced, but the drip will always be there and the tendency towards violence, the tendency toward the facile skill that elevated and separated them from other mortal men. So even though-y’know, Tom’s [Jane] character for instance has his own disability. Y’know, he picks up a gun and it quells the disability.

What you said early is a little bit radical in a large movie environment now, where anything over 100 million, let alone 200 million, almost has to have a big action beat every 8-10 minutes. Is that something you have to buck against?

Joel Silver taught me about the Wham-O-Meter, which is when you have a big action sequence. The question is what is a “whamo”? What is the action sequence? Does it have to be spectacle or can it be somewhat more clever than that?

I thought that Logan-in the big action sequence when he escapes from that oil refinery or whatever-where he’s pulling the fence along. I thought that was very clever and cool. But, it wasn’t just an action movie, I thought. I think Logan’s actually not a bad model in terms of the time spent offering you satisfying action, but also visceral action and then also spending time on a surprising character piece. Y’know, if we can do half their business I’d be thrilled [laughs]

I mean, we have a big budget, but we don’t have a “big” budget. Doing Iron Man 3, I came in and said, ‘let’s just keep our appetite up’. That was 200 million. Keep our appetite up. Just keep your mouth open. Assume a meal will enter it. Don’t shoot for low, shoot for high. And we’re making Iron Man 3, it turns out, and we found ways to do it on half the budget. But, the ambition level is the same as if we were allotted the same kinds of resources we had on Iron Man 3.

On this film, what’s your attitude about in-camera vs. digital? 

Well, I’m very open to digital techniques that look real. But, I also know the eye can’t be easily fooled. And the eye knows when it’s being fooled, so if it’s gonna be a digital shot, it just has to feel real, you have to know there was a camera. For instance, on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom there’s a shot where Harrison Ford runs out over a chasm and it’s looking straight down and straight up a thousand feet and he’s just perched, like almost falling into the chasm and you see it from a distance and its special effects shot, obviously. But, it does this [moves hands] and they didn’t have to do that, but they knew you’d assume it was a helicopter shot if the special effect moved. So, they simulate the reality and they make it feel real, even if it’s an effect. Similarly, you combine things, like Jurassic Park with the real sculpted dinosaur head comes in the car, but then the CG dinosaur walks away through the windshield. So, using that technique of half is digital, half is sculpted. Also, part of our goal. And, we use a lot of sculpture. We’ve got ADI, the original Predator designers, I think they skipped the last one. But, [Tom] Woodruff and [Alec] Gillis are doing our Predator for us.

A big dynamic of your previous films is the two-hander buddy dynamic that doesn’t seem to be present in this film. Was that an active decision to move away from that?

Well, yeah, cause if you’re doing the dirty dozen then you sort of have to adapt to that. So, instead of doing the buddy western, which I’m essentially very familiar, we said, okay, now you’ve got the magnificent six, so what are you gonna do with that? And, that’s been fun. And, Olivia Munn, adding her as a scientist and bringing in the scientific element, the government element and adding the kid-in other words, it’s-if you bought a comic book that just said, “Genre Shit” and started reading it, it could well be this movie [laughs]

Also, noticed you aren’t doing Christmas? 

No, no, no. As soon as people noticed it, I said fuck it. [laughs]

I’m curious what it’s like coming from a minor role in the ‘87 Predator and now you’re the head of a new film. What is that journey like? 

Well, there’s a certain satisfaction in it. It’s hard in the midst of production; you don’t wake up every day and say, ‘Y’know, what a great journey I’m at the culmination of. I’m tired, the money’s not coming…’ It’s really just a day by day thing. I suppose, once it’s over and I have time to reflect back it’ll feel satisfying that we’ve continued the tradition, assuming we pull it off and people accept what we’ve done. I still get the beheadings hate mail from Iron Man 3 because we changed something and I understand that. I think that we’re not changing what the sense of The Predator is, I think we’re expanding on what’s there and I think, hopefully, we’re making a thriller that will play on the same-I mean, in my head, the templates I go to are never small. Jaws, to me, is a small movie, but it’s not a small movie. It’s an epic sea adventure. And, within it, he [Spielberg] didn’t stop short and say, ‘well, let’s just take the boat out in the harbor, tool it around a couple times and get what we get.’ No, he said, ‘We’re gonna make the ultimate sea adventure. You’re gonna feel every second of this and you’re gonna feel the tension of the rope and the precariousness of the ship and the flooding of the water and the mythic timelessness of this nemesis under the water that prowls at night and waits for the enemy. That’s what we’re gonna get.’  So, we took the element of myth and said, let’s put myth in this thing and not just make an event that happens like, ‘oh, look a Predator, honey.’ It’s about the myth of alien incursion. It’s about watching the skies and basically just, guys who doubt themselves, who have skills, but don’t believe they’re truly capable of facing what they’ve been pitted against and it’s the thrill of the hunt. Waking them up again to the possibilities of who they are.

In the back of your mind did you always have an idea for more Predator films?

SB: No, I just thought that it was a great, iconic alien. And, what separated it from other alien invasion movies wasn’t just a space plot, it was an actual space creature with a mythos and a sense of honor, in some respect. A mission. And, a sense of humor, oddly. The idea of the game it plays. It’s rare that the Predator shows humor, but there are moments where you see it almost look at someone like, ‘really?’

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The Predator hits theaters on September 14, 2018.

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