Aronofsky and Self re-design 'RoboCop'


Somewhere, there is a crime happening.

Indeed. But "RoboCop" is coming out of retirement courtesy of director Darren Aronofsky and writer David Self. The respective writer-director of "The Fountain" and the writer of "Road to Perdition" have signed deals to develop a big-budget 21st century installment in the saga of the human-machine hybrid crime-fighter.

Phoenix Pictures' Mike Medavoy, Arnold Messer, Brad Fischer and David Thwaites will produce. Cale Boyter, executive vp production at MGM, will oversee for the studio. Although the Lion has not greenlighted the reinvention, it has fast-tracked "RoboCop" for a 2010 release, when the studio plans to roll out its new slate.

"Darren is undeniably one of the most talented, original and visceral filmmakers, and David is one of the greatest writers in Hollywood," said Mary Parent, chairman of MGM's worldwide motion picture group.

The original "RoboCop," written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, was directed with camp adroitness by Paul Verhoeven in 1987 and released by Orion Pictures. It focused on a mortally wounded cop in a futuristic, crime-ridden Detroit who returns to fight corruption in the guise of a tough-talking cyborg. Sequels followed in 1990 and 1993, along with TV series and video games. RoboCop retains a sizable fan base online.

"After making the first 'RoboCop' at Orion more than 20 years ago, I'm thrilled to be helping to return this character to the screen through the eyes of Darren Aronofsky and David Self," Medavoy said.

Parent and MGM chairman-CEO Harry Sloan announced their "RoboCop" revival in May at Cannes, and they're hoping to rebuild the do-gooding manbot, utilizing the latest filmmaking technology and spending accordingly, as much as $100 million on the budget. The tone and feel would be similar to the first movie.

MGM had been talking to several filmmakers about rebooting the franchise and started meeting with Aronofsky a month ago. At the time, Aronofsky, who is repped by CAA, was finishing up postproduction on "The Wrestler" and hoping to move forward with "The Fighter" at Paramount. But greenlight delays resulting from potential SAG labor strife and actor scheduling left him open to wooing.

Self, repped by UTA, has written screenplays for "Thirteen Days" and Universal's upcoming "Wolf Man" remake.

In resuscitating the MGM brand, Parent and company have been looking to the studio's library for ripe remake material. Revamps of "Red Dawn," "Fame," "Poltergeist" and "Death Wish" are all in the works. (partialdiff)