How Sony/MGM Just Let 'RoboCop' Become a Flop Through Inaction
It's nearly confirmed - MGM's RoboCop remake is going to flop. Though it doesn't come out until August 9th, 2013, this is pretty much when it was decided. The fate of the movie has been all but secured simply through the inaction of Columbia/Sony and MGM's marketing department(s). How can I say this? How can I actually make a sound prediction this far out? Let me explain. RoboCop just started shooting this weekend in Toronto. On the very first day of principal photography, paparazzi got the shot they were waiting (a whole day) for - one of Joel Kinnaman in his cyborg outfit. Now it's out. All over the internet. Everyone has seen it, scrutinized it, in just over 48 hours. And because of that, this movie's failure is pretty much guaranteed.
Here at FS.net, we have a long-standing policy opposing any/all set photos. We never post them. Period. (I know the teaser image is one, but used for the sake of covering it as news.) I even wrote an entire editorial about it back in 2011 - and that was before The Dark Knight Rises set photo frenzy, which was nearly out of hand. Posting paparazzi-taken set photos is a sad and disgraceful habit of hit-hungry websites who use the excuse "well, everyone wants to see them!" Of course they do. Everyone wants to know the ending of every movie before they see it. Just because it's some crass impulsive urge doesn't mean we, as the curators of content and creators of hype, have to indulge in it. Leave that to TMZ or Just Jared. I prefer not to stoop to the low standards of gossip rags. But that certainly won't (and doesn't) stop the endless spread of set photos.
So what's wrong with RoboCop? This remake
has had potential. One of my favorite shirts that I wear only has the OCP (Omni Consumer Products) logo from the original 1987 Verhoeven film - made by Last Exit to Nowhere. Every time I wear it, someone always stops me to comment on it. Usually "that's awesome" or "I love RoboCop!" It's proof there is a huge fan base out there, and just like Tron, it's one of those 80's sci-fi franchises that still has a passionate fanboy following (of males 20 to 40 years old). If you play your cards right, it could be a big sci-fi hit. But MGM (who is distributing through a deal with Sony/Columbia Pictures) hasn't played their cards right. Not only making the wrong decisions with every card they draw (what really happened to Aronofsky?) but they're trying to bluff big time and it's not going to work. At least I don't think.
In fact, their bluff is so blatantly transparent, it has created a large amount of negative buzz before they have even shot a single frame of footage. Tough break. But with these first set photos from the first weekend, things have been pushed to the edge. Before that, there were already troubling quotes coming out about this remake; as I said, they tried to bluff, but everyone could see right through it. Word is that Brazilian director José Padilha was speaking on the phone to friend Fernando Meirelles, and told him "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.'" Whether or not it's accurate, the fact that quote was one of the first to come about the production is not a good way to start. When searching for RoboCop, that story is everywhere, the first thing anyone looking will find.
There was, kind of, a brief follow-up. Padilha apparently stated, in a translated interview found by Latino Review, that the quotes weren't entirely true and "we deal with those difficulties with coolness and familiarity." But no one picked up that story, it barely spread to a few sites, not many cared (why would they?). Plus, his quote almost confirms that there are troubles, as he doesn't seem to outright deny them anyway. But there was no response. Sony/MGM was tight-lipped all the way, as expected, as it finished casting and gearing up to begin production in Toronto the final weekend of TIFF. The perfect time/place for paparazzi to descend, especially with reports that Joel Kinnaman was around at parties anyway. They went and got the shot they wanted.
In this day and age, studios can't just cower behind a wall of silence when this kind of negativity flares up. The internet has power that can shape a film's fate before it even shoots. Bad buzz got worse this weekend when ComingSoon landed two set photos from Toronto of Kinnaman as the new Alex Murphy/RoboCop in costume. There's a camera in one shot, but the other looks like he's just walking to his trailer. Beyond that, we don't know whether this is a prototype, just an exoskeleton, an FX extension, but not the finished suit, or actually the final costume being shown in full minus a few post-production touch-ups. Well, take all of that and toss it out the window, because these two photos have been spread everywhere, and every fan/non-fan has already taken an opportunity to state their opinions, be it on Twitter, Facebook or to friends over texts.
Nearly every other movie website has taken the chance to post these, even sadly Hollywood Reporter. Devin from Badass Digest sums up the general reaction: "underwhelming in the extreme, and further fodder for the belief that design is long dead in Hollywood genre films… I find it hard to care, honestly. This is a movie whose existence is pointless; it will never be as good as the original and it does not seem to be interested in pushing boundaries, at least as far as design goes." He goes on to joke that "I'm sure they'll say they started from a place of realism" but I doubt they'll respond to these criticisms and will just cover it up with publicity way down the line. Nevertheless, the world has taken notice, and there's plenty of responses to back it up.
Here's a tweet reply I received - Alejandro nails it. I may be out of my own ability to change the fact that set photos are covered so vehemently by other movie blogs, but it's up to the studios to make a difference in the end. And if they're just going to ignore them, it's going to continue hurt them. Not always, and many films can and do get away with it, but not this time. So much so, that the audience has acknowleded how bad it is:
@firstshowing movies get the life suck out of them by this kind of behavior, hyped or ditched before it gets a chance to stand by it's self.
— Alejandro Torres (@Alx_th) September 15, 2012
These two tweets below from Nordling of AICN (which I had nothing to do with) truly say it all. And as of writing this, both of those tweets have already been retweeted six times. It's not just a prominent writer for a geek website making up his mind early. He's instantly influencing the fanbase and audience, who will in turn influence non-fans, too. This is all happening a year before release. Before they've unveiled or done any real marketing. This is why this movie is almost guaranteed to flop. Due to a complete lack of marketing or concern, the audience is already tuning out. Marketing, whenever it does hit, won't even have a chance to save it. RoboCop is finished. They could of course turn it around, but this negativity will still be lingering.
Over the past few weeks my excitement for ROBOCOP has slowly deflated due to news about the script and Padilha's studio struggles.
— Alan Cerny (@NordlingAICN) September 15, 2012
Seeing the Robocop outfit today… yeah. #movingon
— Alan Cerny (@NordlingAICN) September 15, 2012
Before we get into the helpful side of this, there is another quick marketing recap necessary. RoboCop has actually had studio-released marketing, but its been feeding the negativity. Beyond casting updates, the only official marketing for RoboCop arrived around early July and during Comic-Con this summer. A viral site for robotics company OmniCorp (omnicorp.com) was launched with some weaponry teases, followed-up by a viral banner showing the new "ED-209" mech on the side of the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego (photos here). I remember having conversations then about how terrible the new design looked, with people I would consider true fans of this franchise. Sony's first soft marketing launch, which was an admirable attempt I'll give, was nonetheless ineffective at building good buzz. As we now know, it just went downhill from there.
In addition to all this criticism, my biggest complaints are that studios can be running better marketing, but aren't. They can be using better tactics to promote and keep everyone's attention focused on studio-made marketing, if they truly cared. So I've decided to suggest a few ideas of what I would prefer to see them do. More questions meant to prod them: why aren't we seeing this kind of response, or this kind of marketing?
Give us an Actual First Look at Murphy or RoboCop
Hollywood's current response to set photos is to attempt to cover them up with real photos. That is the good idea, since there's not much else that will help. If the photos are taken from public property (e.g. a sidewalk) they're legally safe, no matter what. The studio can't do anything. However, they can divert our attention. I'm sure most execs think "in the long run set photos don't hurt us much." That can and occasionally is true (look at TDKR I guess), but with RoboCop it's the fact this is the first way most audiences are introduced to their movie, that should make them concerned. If Hollywood is so obsessed with control right now (which they are), then why aren't they controlling the very first look at a hot remake? To the point of releasing good photos before any paparazzi has a chance to get a shot on the street. It's one of the only worthwhile tactics.
Concept art of the new RoboCop armor suit, from Filmophilia posted in early August.
We saw The Dark Knight Rises do this, though they failed to follow up with additional fan engagement (e.g. a good viral). Right around the time Christopher Nolan started filming with Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in Pittsburgh, was when we got the first officially released studio photo. Even then I got the sense they were pressured into putting that out. The same with Bane, he got revealed (with a side-shot of his mask) in a viral before they even started shooting. TDKR got a much cleaner start than this movie is getting, and look how much money it went on to earn. But WB's marketing for that is a whole other topic for another day, it's just a easy reference for first look photos being used to draw some attention away from copious set photos.
So let's meet Alex Murphy! Paramount is using this tactic well for Jack Ryan, which also recently started filming in New York City, putting out two (now three) photos of Chris Pine as Ryan, plus Kevin Costner and director Kenneth Branagh. They know how to build good buzz around a franchise with potential and keep everyone's eyes off the streets. So where's our first look at Alex Murphy, aka RoboCop, in action? Oh, the costume needs effects work before you put out a photo? That should've been done months ago. This is 2012, get with the times. The internet doesn't slow down, neither should marketing. This first look should've been out weeks ago. It should've been out at Comic-Con. Now it's a lost opportunity (though they still might try).
Where is Unique Content from the OmniCorp Viral?
While I like the idea behind the OmniCorp viral site, it hasn't been used besides as flashy promotion. Toss up the totally-CG new ED-209 robot (which doesn't stand up to the original), as well as an XT-908 drone, and some inactive but exciting links (Projects? Products? Programs?) and you have fans interested at least. But not engaged. We need something more. Need a good excuse to release a first look photo of the finished RoboCop suit, with effects? Use OmniCorp, or an unrelated twitter viral, or with in-fiction storylines about a cheesy human-robot experiment, leaving teases as to what's going on. If that's the direction they're going for with this? We don't really know. However, they at least have the viral space to work with, why not utilize it.
Here's another solid suggestion, by a fan, of how they could've kept the focus on the viral content instead:
— GeekRest (@GeekRest) September 15, 2012
Another example of a brilliant, successful viral campaign using exciting sci-fi imagery to build pure hype is Prometheus. Why not hire the company behind that, Ignition Creative, to design futuristic promo material of the new RoboCop suit from OmniCorp, venturing beyond just robotic defense into robotic self-defense. Release newspaper articles about Alex Murphy as a cop in Detroit and his career. These are just a few of many different examples of ways to build up the universe, gets fans interested in the world they're crafting. It would help actually get a bit of positive buzz going, maybe make a few people curious about what's in this world besides the "looks like Nolan's Batman" boring black armor RoboCop suit that everyone has now seen.
My hope is that this OmniCorp viral site does eventually lead to some exciting opportunities, be it online missions or in-world activities, as it would at least provide something to keep me intrigued. Otherwise, my interest is fading very quick. No viral since The Dark Knight (not Rises) or Tron Legacy or Prometheus has been able to keep me more interested in the content that it's providing, rather than the content paparazzi are supplying. Who wants the same guys who sell sleazy photos to gossip mags to be marketing movies? Effective, smart interactive marketing is one of the key ways to build buzz, especially with a sci-fi audience.
Note: The latest viral video that auto-plays on the OmniCorp site does tease the RC-2000 RoboCop suit at the end, with a few boring glimpses of the same black armor and this tag: "In the coming months, we will unveil our newest and most exciting innovation yet. Where human resources meets robotic engineering - the RC-2000, the next generation of defensive products." Can anyone say cheesy? That's not the way to actually engage modern sci-fi fans. Did they even see the Prometheus viral or was that totally ignored, too?
Stop Looking at Set Photos, They All Suck Anyway
Why does anyone really care that much about set photos? Do they mean much? Beyond providing a first look (as was the case here), any cinephile knows the look on a set doesn't always represent the final product. That's the whole point - I would much rather wait to experience details in their finished form, whether that's in theaters or with filmmaker-approved footage. At least it would be coming from those who care about its artistic direction. But the studio is way behind here, and it seems like internal struggles may be affecting marketing, even design. That said, it's no excuse for jumping on set photos like this or caring about them. But the impact these have had has unfortunately already left a mark, even though they're trying to ignore it.
Which also may be the response the studio is taking internally. "We can ignore all of this." That's what most movies try to do. Marvel Studio's Thor: The Dark World is getting openly revealed in set photos, but Marvel/Disney seem to be ignoring it entirely. They've got their own marketing campaign and when the time comes, they'll reveal what they want. It works for them because, I suppose, we have faith in Marvel at this point. We know what Chris Hemsworth looks like as Thor. We trust Kevin Feige made the right decisions. Fans will still pour over these photos, they can't stop that desire. But that's also the problem. Neither side of this seems to really care about making a change. And I'm stuck here in the middle complaining about both.
So how can I still claim that a movie will flop just because one or two crappy set photos came out and there hasn't been any marketing yet? Just look at the evidence, there's plenty of it out there, and the web backs it up anywhere you look. Do a search for Jose Padilha's RoboCop yourself. Ask around. Ask your friends. Sure, a year of time can smooth out some of this negativity, but it will always linger, mostly because they haven't provided any interesting or exciting marketing to give fans any reason to be hopeful. There is nothing. Then again, fans should be able to remain optimistic about it anyway. Examples of inversely optimistic responses:
People are asking my opinion on ROBOCOP remake photos. Obviously I hate that look. The key is how that costume fits in the world around it.
— Harry Knowles (@headgeek666) September 15, 2012
Honestly, I love it. Looks cool. Can't wait to see the finished product. comicbookmovie.com/fansites/TheAl…
— WolvieCBM (@WolvieCBM) September 15, 2012
As for the actual movie, there's talk of the aerial drones coming into play in thematic ways, and maybe the ED-209 robot will be badass in action, but only time will tell. That's the point - it is too early to jump to conclusions from two set photos (as I am doing, ironically). However, it looks like this movie may already be doomed and no amount of marketing/publicity can cover that up. But if the studio really believes in this, now is the time to really jump into action and show us why we should be excited for it. Give us something to hope for that is a glimpse at the real finished product, at something that will actually convince us this is anxiously worth waiting a whole year for. Otherwise this is all just a buzz kill before it even has any buzz.
Give Us Hope OmniCorp! Get the Future Under Control!
To top it all off, there's also bad buzz from an early script review floating around. Since the project has been in the works for so long, even with Padilha and writer Nick Schenk on the latest draft, the script is out there. HitFix's Drew McWeeny took a swipe at it on twitter (via Bleeding Cool): "I'll share this one detail. In the film, when Murphy is turned into Robocop 1.0, it's described 'a high-tech version of the '80s suit.' Then they show a focus group scene where criminals laugh at the design. 'He looks like a toy from the '80s!' So they redesign him to look 'meaner' as Robocop 2.0, who passes focus group approval. So they not only make sure to include the original design, they also point out it’s dated and stupid. *facepalm*" Again, this is the first word out about the currently in-production RoboCop remake. Give us some hope guys, don't let everyone trample over it without a shred of positivity to show. Might as well give up now if that's the case.
Remember this outstanding bit of promo art from 2008 (seen to the left)? It's probably the best marketing for this RoboCop remake/reboot we've ever seen. It was used as an early promo at the Licensing Expo in 2008, teasing two years out (hint, hint Sony/MGM?) a summer 2010 release, which obviously never happened. Still, this was the kind of imagery that actually made me excited, but none of what we've seen from the studio so far has come close. And these set photos just seem to have made it worse. However, a promo banner (touting the bland black armor) has recently appeared on the Argentinean movie site Cine1, which confirms this is the new look and also hints at how much their marketing campaign is already ruined if teasing small portions of the armor is their plan.
Give us hope! Give us OmniCorp! Give us RoboCop! Give us something. Sitting around pretending none of is this is happening, that negativity doesn't matter, ignoring that the internet exists (and so do paparazzi), is only going to hurt. Studios must learn that in this day and age, where the internet drives opinions years out, inaction is ineffective. Lack of confidence leads to failure, especially when it comes to a property that needs action. RoboCop is one of those. The same "that's awesome" response I get from wearing a shirt that says OCP on it should be the same response fans are having any/every time they see images from this. But it's too late for that. The first impression has already been made and it's bad, perhaps even so bad it may be hard to recover from. If this isn't a flop next August, I'll be the very first to eat my own claim chowder.
Now is the time to take action. Well, two weeks ago was, but we're passed that. Instead of letting set photos establish excruciatingly low precedents and allowing movies to "get the life suck[ed] out of them" a year out, step up and give the audience something. Confidence is key, and if that's missing, it's all over. I hate set photos so much that it frustrates me when movies get wrongfully revealed and scrutinized like this. But it's up to Hollywood, moviegoers, and other movie sites, to make a difference. Maybe José Padilha's RoboCop will turn out pretty good in the end. Only time will tell. Although I don't have
much any confidence in it. OmniCorp doesn't seem to have this future under control at all. Where is Verhoeven when we need him?
Reader Feedback - 81 Comments
I have to agree, especially with the viral campaign
Daniel Koelsch on Sep 17, 2012
well now....i will need to see the trailer in order to know how the suit will look in the movie......
Jericho on Sep 17, 2012
Holy crap, you just spent way too much time writing about a dumb film no one really cares about... A guaranteed flop? Who ever said it was going to be a hit? The original movie sucked and was dumb. I can't imagine the remake breaking any ground.
Sweet 'n' Tender on Sep 17, 2012
I care and obviously Alex cares, so you're wrong right off the bat
Richie G on Sep 17, 2012
You obviously have bad taste in movies. You also obviously care because you spent time caring to post. Shut up
Barnaby Barrilla on Sep 17, 2012
Please crawl in a hole and watch Gigli forever
Daniel Koelsch on Sep 17, 2012
i am trying to guess what is your favorite movie of all time.....i bet transformers 2 until teenage mutant ninja turtles 2 comes out.....
the man of sheep on Sep 17, 2012
Not a Transformers fan myself, and I'm not sure where you are getting "teenage mutant ninja turtles 2' from. There have been several live action TMNT movies before, plus this one is a reboot.
Daniel Koelsch on Sep 17, 2012
Yes, please stop posting... You sound like you may be a Twilight Fan. If that is the case post on an article dedicated to Twilight or Alvin and The Chipmunks and leave things you know nothing about alone.
B Easy on Sep 17, 2012
Just love it when somebody comments about some movie with a strong fan base in this case Robocop and their comments is dismissive about the said movie, it immedialty means they are a fan of some crap like Twillight. Don't get me wrong I really like Robocop but the world is not going to end if this remake flops. Prometheus was a huge dissapointment and the world is still here In short: first world problems.
Bad spelling on Sep 17, 2012
That top image looks more like the "lazer" tv character Murphy's son emulates. Hope it's not supposed to be robocop. The Ed 209 is way over designed, looks like garbage. I managed to avoid most of the Dark Knight Rises pics, but I saw Marion Cotillard in her final scene costume, didn't even need a caption for it to spoil. I think it was kinda obvious while watching the film, but I'll never know for sure... not that the rest of the movie was great
Richie G on Sep 17, 2012
These arguments go way deeper than just set stuff. I have a friend who blatantly disliked Amazing Spider-Man simply because a handful of the footage released online through official outlets wasn't present in the film (Notably the doorman scene). While some of these things are left on the cutting room floor, making movies has become such a fluid process due to the internet. The modification of Bane's voice is TDKR is another piece of evolving filmwork that comes directly to mind. We will see if the 48 fps is still a sticking point to the Hobbit come this fall, although from my understanding the 48 fps version will be under limited distribution. As far as the direct relation to Robocop surviving this though, only time can tell. Given the performance of Total Recall, another 80's campy action film thrown into remake land, I can see where Sony/MGM are worried. Another metric they should be looking at is the performance of Dredd, simply because the similarities between Dredd and Robocop are too harrowing to dismiss. It is getting very hard to keep secrets to big name blockbusters these days, which is why I am so excited when I found a best kept secret in the theaters like Attack the Block. If people want to be spoiled that is their prerogative, but they shouldn't be surprised when it isn't exactly what they want. Unless they are directors or producers there isn't much they can do to effect the vision of the film.
Ryan M. Holt on Sep 17, 2012
Hot Dog, Alex! This is why I come to Firstshowing.net FIRST! I love this style of journalism. Thanks AB.
DAVIDPD on Sep 17, 2012
yawn, i think they want people to hype up, free marketing.
truong18 on Sep 17, 2012
I called flop on this cash grab remake as soon as I heard about it. Shame really. Hopefully it is SO bad we can enjoy its campyness.
Brian Sleider on Sep 17, 2012
"Marketing, whenever it does hit, won't even have a chance to save it. RoboCop is finished." You make good points, but you exaggerate to support them. The reality is that one great trailer can turn around attitudes towards a film & its awareness. See The Social Network; after a plethora of bad buzz (even when news of Fincher and Sorkin's involvement were confirmed), a terrific trailer and interesting marketing made it a hit. The alleged conflicts of interest, script slam from Drew McWeeney and set photos have all contributed negatively to the films buzz. However, we shouldn't neglect the fact that prior to these, the main talking point of the film was how remarkable the cast is. The other things that have hurt the films buzz will most likely fade from memory in the coming year, whilst the cast is concrete and, again, outstanding. If we get an effective trailer that showcases the talent involved, opinions can change (they reverted from good to bad in an instant - why not the other way around?). I can't predict the future, and if I'm honest, I think the film is more likely to underperform than do good business due to the past performance of similar films (Total Recall, Fright Night etc.). I just don't think it's fate is quite as sealed as you imply.
Luke Murray on Sep 17, 2012
"script slam from Drew McWeeney" While I think script reviews can be interesting and informative, they also need to be taken with a huge grain of salt. Screenplays go through so many revisions, especially on a project this big, and who knows what will end up on the cutting room floor. If people read some of the dialogue from one of the early 'Blade Runner' scripts before it was released in theaters they'd be ridiculing that too.
axalon on Sep 17, 2012
100% agree with your article Alex. If Sony plays this right, they could actually use all this bad press to their advantage. People's expectations of this movie are so low, that if they actually end up making the movie decent or hell, actually good, then Sony could play off the "pleasantly surprised" card. I know some of my friends are scoffing at the new Dredd 3D movie, but I for one am going to see it off the pleasantly surprised reviews that have come in for it.
axalon on Sep 17, 2012
This is a very good article, and Alex is right that the studio should be more in control of their own content. I'll be curious to see how Tom Hardy's reveal as the new Mad Max is handled.
Greedo on Sep 17, 2012
While I'm not a fan of set photos, I have to state that I think the problem isn't with set photos, it's with articles like this that state emphatically that something is going to be terrible or a flop before the film is even out. The Amazing Spider-Man had TERRIBLE set photos, but it was actually a decent enough flick and the negative PRESS beforehand did more to hurt it's chances than those photos did. Dredd is the same situation - fans HATED the new look but it's sounding more and more like it's going to be one of the big action flicks of the year. Hell, people even freaked out about how Avengers looked... but it turned out to be one of the best CBM's we've had to date. Where is the journalisitic objectivity? Rather than condemning a film that doesn't even have a trailer out, are we seriously that jaded that we can call it a flop before we've even seen what they're doing with it? All we're going off of is some set photos, some possibly old copies of a previous script, and internet hearsay. Don't misunderstand me, I don't think Robocop needs a reboot and I'm not excited about how it's looking, but I will at least wait for a trailer or two before beginning to judge the final product. That's like saying a cake is going to be gross just because someone else saw the flour a few months earlier and didn't like the texture. Cart before the horse, etc. Pick your metaphor.
Pete the Geek on Sep 17, 2012
All of the examples, Dredd, Avengers still looked like the charcaters we know. This Robocop suit could be The Tick if we didn't know these shots were taken on the Robocop set. No one made the Hulk purple. Captain America is not orange and Dredd doesn't wear yellow tights.
B Easy on Sep 17, 2012
Am I the only one that thinks the suit look pretty awesome and see's the potential in how they'll use it on screen? If so, touche. But I really think this is being blown WAYYYYY out of proportion
Danimal on Sep 17, 2012
You are one of the very few who thinks the suit looks awesome.
B Easy on Sep 17, 2012
I'm with you. I also thought the suit looked good.
IamSlave on Sep 17, 2012
The suit looks stale and cliche as if they were trying to rip off Nolan's Batman.
Chris Batty on Sep 17, 2012
the suit is good...but i'm seeing it as a suit of super soldier or something like that, like the one in crysis, this is not robocop. but still we need teaser or trailer to confirm the real robocop.
quest on Sep 17, 2012
Yes. You are the only one. The suit looks like something from Crysis. It's NOT Robo. And making Lewis a guy was the last nail in the coffin for me.
atoj20 on Sep 17, 2012
wait ....Lewis is a guy? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?? Next you're going to tell me Kurtwood Smith isnt in the remake!
rivelyroosevelt on Sep 18, 2012
FIRST, I don't see the outrage over set photos. I understand this site's trepidation, but I don't think it's as disgraceful as it's made out to be. Yeah, it's a little cheap (and cheesy), but so what? People DO want to whet their appetites in anticipation, and it usually seems to do the trick. SECOND, I don't quite understand why/how anyone could call something a flop this early. Problems on set are pretty common, especially today (are we ready to call World War Z a flop? Because those reports have been way worse). Let's at least wait for a teaser/trailer before we make up our minds.
mandawg on Sep 17, 2012
"Where is Verhoeven when we need him?" We don't need him, he delivered in spades in '87. This remake is pointless, other than an opportunity to show off visual effects that weren't possible back then. Also, I like to think that the usual moviegoer can decide for himself what to see or not. He can look past the bad buzz if he really wants to see the movie. Especially if that bad buzz was generated by nothing more than just a set photo. Actually, the reason why this movie receives so much negativism so early in the game is because it's a remake. It has a lot to live up to, plus the track record of remakes doesn't inspire too much confidence (look no further than Total Recall). A new movie with an original idea gets kudos right away, because it tries something different (look no further than Looper). I hope this movie turns out worthwhile, although it just feels pointless.
Isildur_of_Numenor on Sep 17, 2012
Having a layered design with a ton of pieces making up the whole does NOT make a good 'cool' or 'realistic' design....it's like people saw the way robots were done in the Transformers films, with the many pieces layering on top of each other, and decided that was the only way to create those type of characters. The Iron Man movies proved that you don't need that kind of look for it to look great. Why does Ed-209 have so many small pieces sticking out all over the place? It lacks personality. Scripts can be 'over-written', well, Robocop and Ed-209 have been 'over-designed'
Chris Groves on Sep 17, 2012
Why does Robocop have a bird-chest?! Where is the metal/steel? The original Robocop looks menacing, uncomfortable, mechanic and cybernetic. This version looks like a character in a first person shooter...
B Easy on Sep 17, 2012
The new Robocop suit looks like a cheap knock off of Batman/Iron Man. The new ED209 design is busy for the sake of being busy. It doesn't even look like it exists in the same world as Robocop itself. They should fire the production designer on this.
ticketmaster on Sep 17, 2012
Transformers, Robocop.... I wonder which 1980s robot concept is going to be sullied next by hyperactive, insect-like, too-fast, impossible-looking CGI robots? Maybe "The Terminator" will be remade.
crystaltowers on Sep 17, 2012
I like it. Reminds me of Mass Effect.
Rain Spider on Sep 17, 2012
I don't like cops see.....cause they don't like me.......
Frank on Sep 17, 2012
*raises hand* I like it.
Xerxexx on Sep 17, 2012
Talking about the armour? Would not go as far as to say I like it,but I don't mind it really.Although I find it funny they have to put abs on the damn thing.Why would something mechanical resemble human muscles?Anyway let's wait for the final product before trashing the movie.Maybe it won't suck.
Bad spelling on Sep 17, 2012
Xerxexx on Sep 17, 2012
Maybe they put abs for more mobility. It looks like this version will be more flexible than the original suit.
Chris Amaya on Sep 17, 2012
No.They do it because abs are "cool and sexy". Wrong approach for a movie about a dehumanized cop trying to find his humanity.
WG on Sep 17, 2012
So we saw one pic and everyone is hating it LOLThis prejustice on the net is so sad but it happens all the time .A remake ,reboot or whatever is done more or less since 500 years .Every new theatre piece or every new version from Hamlet is there to keep the younger generation up with this story .If there would be no retelling of Shakespeare for example nobody under the age of 100 would know about it .So what is the problem ? To all the ROBO87 fanboys ,the idea is to tell the story for a younger audience .The imagination of how the look of a Robot was supposed to be in1987 is vastly different to what it looks today .The movie is made 2012 so why not use a suit who fits to the actual day and age and the progress in Robot technic ? Would look very stupid if they would use a outdated suit from 1987 LOL don´t you think ? I have a open mind I don´t want a carbon copy of the 1987 movie -it allready exist .I am for a different take of the source material and maybe it works .Don´t like a new take -don´t watch it ,simple as that ! But stop bitching on a movie you didn´t see one scene yet . Sorry not exactly on topic but I had to write this down 🙂
Archie on Sep 17, 2012
damn Alex great book
DoomCanoe on Sep 17, 2012
this is just what 12 year old boys want to see cause this model type is in every first person shooter videogame that has come out in the last 10 years.
happy camper on Sep 17, 2012
No.This is what the 12 year old boys are told they want to see or better yet this is what the designers of these type of suits think 12 year old boys want to see.Why take a risk and go against the current trend and try to come up with something original when you can copy/paste from or mimic other supposedly successful projects?
whadayakno on Sep 18, 2012
My question here is... why they`re trying to remake a movie that already was perfect??? (besides squeezing money out of this franchise)
szkari on Sep 17, 2012
Alex, great article. I think you nailed it on the head. Most movies that turn out to be a 'flop' had their fate sealed long before the movie was finished. It reminds me of John Carter. From the very beginning the buzz was bad. People heard the word 'reshoots' and assumed it was a damaged film because of it. Disney did a terrible job marketing, and 90% of marketing is about perception, the other 10% is awareness. With the way the internet is set up these days, there's a trickle down effect. A few blogs have some negative things to say, then that gets picked up by bigger websites, and it keeps going until it reaches the average person on the street.
germss on Sep 17, 2012
Maybe this is the cop armor before he becomes part Robot himself. Maybe. "Let me lend you a hand!!!!" HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA
ED 409 on Sep 17, 2012
Seems a little harsh. Yeah all the odds seem to be against this movie but it could turn out to be a great remake. Weren't people saying Dredd would be terrible? And it has been getting great reviews. I actually don't mind the suit. Maybe they can make it work with post production. You know, add a coat of shine to it. We haven't even seen the setting so we can't really say that the suit doesn't fit. As for the gloveless hand, maybe they're going to have his arm open up with the gun or pistol assembling, then be placed into his hand a la Vash the Stampede. I'm probably one of the few looking forward to this but my expectations will be very looowwwwwww. Lol.
Chris Amaya on Sep 17, 2012
The Suit has FAILED.
Have Hope on Sep 17, 2012
I have always thought that writing 26 paragraphs describing every single detail from an entirely negative perspective while hoping for anothers failure is far more ethical than posting set pictures. At least it looks smarter and is more effectively destructive.
Christyj on Sep 17, 2012
Wow, what a ridiculous article. Getting on your high horse about set pics, what possessed you to look them up then and feel the need to write this rant about nothing? The film was on it's first day, who gives a damn. Funnily enough, I remember this site printing a rubbish article about the Dredd remake and all its behind the scenes problems, that film seems to have turned out pretty good. What's the difference between bashing a movie based on hearsay and out of context set pics? Ah well, I guess the guys at First Showing know it all... Oh and I really enjoyed the Riddler in The Dark Knight Rises! 😉
Kinks! on Sep 17, 2012
only nerds like Billington bitch about something so trivial as a suit design / costume.
dillinger on Sep 17, 2012
and only assholes bitch about Billington bitching.
Xerxexx on Sep 17, 2012
I fucking hate all these fanboy assholes like Harry Knowles, that think they are some judge on what is valid within pop culture. Here's an idea - how about you fuckheads wait until the movie comes out before you hail its demise.
guest on Sep 17, 2012
First off, I like this Robocop suit, although I was never a die-hard Robocop fan. Having said this, set photos are stupid like Alex says. They almost never give you a true impression of the film itself. Even TRAILERS can sometimes inaccurately portray a film (John Carter, anyone?). It's only when we actually see the completed film - with all the editing, sound, music, etc. all in place - that we can truly critique it.
dangeer on Sep 17, 2012
haha, JESUS Billington. Calm down. Your site alone is proof that the ridiculous / poorly handled parts of something (eg. your opinion pieces) don't ruin the whole thing (an otherwise very well curated and nice looking film website)
JohnHolmes72 on Sep 17, 2012
This film has Gary Oldman.. surely he wouldn't have signed on unless he knew it would stand a good chance of being good? The mouth looks stupid in the suit, but it could look good on screen. I'm not judging this til' I see the film (not the trailer)... I judged Dredd from the trailer... said it looked bad... boy was I wrong.
Guy who comments on things on Sep 17, 2012
Dont give Oldman that much credit ....he was in Red Riding Hood!! 🙂
rivelyroosevelt on Sep 18, 2012
There's a formula for success, as much as there's a formula for failure. I think Alex is pretty right on. We've seen this before. Played out, it probably won't succeed to the levels hoped.
Quanah on Sep 17, 2012
Yikes, apparently not much going on at the firstshowing office today. That might be the longest article ever on this site...on a Robocop remake.
drnknjbbrsh on Sep 17, 2012
I'm happy to see this movie fail. The original is great. Hollywood needs to try harder.
rennmaxbeta on Sep 18, 2012
I think we're all missing a lot here... the biggest thing that we're missing is context. We're all seeing this as a suit. This is the character's body. We're not seeing the inner workings, what it's capable of, how it will move on screen and how the performance can be captured in it. Not only that but we know from the script that this Robocop has 2 modes. He has a passive and aggressive mode that actually change his appearance. He's essentially a transformer. With that idea, I'm thinking that this costume will have digital effects involved and maybe costume extension. Everyone talked shit about Dredd, Spider-Man, Catwoman and more over the past few years and I'm honestly tired of it. They were all proven wrong because we're not seeing the costumes how they're meant to be seen in these kind of photos. There needs to be context, the correct lighting, a performance coming through them, and a story. Without any of that, this of course looks like a bad cosplayer. My podcasting partner Matt and I went to PAX a few weeks ago and we noticed something... in broad daylight almost all of these costumes look absurd. All the cosplayers, even the really ornate ones, stand in well lit hall ways where there's plenty of foot traffic so people can admire them. Then you take the photo and it looks off. There's something fishy about it. You take that same cosplayer, put them near some insane ornate booth lighting in one of the show floors and they're suddenly a place that's cool and interesting and the new lighting enhances the costume dramatically. It's not washed out, they fit into the environment and you have something new there. My point is this... these photos all look bad. Most of them are taken on cell phones or on bad cameras and they're never color corrected, in high quality or shot professionally. So of course they look bad. I say we wait, see the first production still or trailer and then really reserve judgement... The guy doesn't even have all the costume on in this photo for fuck's sake.
Kento on Sep 18, 2012
How do you know the guy does not have all the costume on.... Robocop has abs and a bird-chest. I'm disappointed to see that. Your little preachy speech is nice, but I gues you agree that from that photo the suit looks like crap. Also, what is a cosplayer? Also, no need to curse.
B Easy on Sep 18, 2012
They're obviously going to add stuff to the costume using CGI. That's not the detailed costume. And if you aren't aware of what a cosplayer is then you should really try this thing called Google.
BATMAN on Sep 18, 2012
This is incredible. Sometimes this website seems to be ran by a bunch of cry-babies. Be objective please and avoid all your amateurish posts. (Does this website have an editor in chief?) Even judge a movie by its trailer is foolish and now judging it by a couple of pics... well, that is another level of stupidity.
Terrible Reactor on Sep 18, 2012
Serious business, y'all.
Jim on Sep 18, 2012
As someone who is often accused of writing articles that are far too long, I would like to offer you the friendly advice that brevity is the soul of wit. Otherwise, good article.
rainestorm on Sep 18, 2012
Would have been a better article without the soapbox preaching about websites posting set photos.
Josh Armstrong on Sep 18, 2012
Production was hell for Verhoeven on the original Robocop. Nobody believed in it. Padilha is gonna fight for every inch he can get. This movie is getting so much hate already and it's fucking ROBOCOP!! He's gonna come out and kick all of your little whiny bitch asses.
hephaestu5 on Sep 18, 2012
Going by the pictures the Robocop getup feels more like body armour and maybe,but really a big maybe exoskeleton and not a prostetic body which it should be if I remember the original correctly.Murphy got most of his body chopped off and replaced with prostetic enhancements with only his torso intact and some of his head,i.e. face,the rest was all cybernetics. Here,at least going by the pictures it does not feel like he is a true cyborg. And what's with the abs? Why would a cyborg need abs? Wait and see,maybe it will work in the movie.
whadayakno on Sep 18, 2012
There's an Ad at the end here to Set Pics for Kick Ass 2. Mixed messages Brother...
theig on Sep 18, 2012
Why the hostility? Why so negative? At least give it a chance. Wait until a trailer and then go off and write an unnecessarily long rant. So what if it fails? Who really cares? Let them go to work and make their movie. Too early to start bitching about something so trivial. This could turn out to be a really great bad movie!
GWills on Sep 19, 2012
what a terrible looking suit.. Robocop on strict diet this time i presume.. 😀 ... The original heavy artillery is always the best...
stevenfreestyler on Sep 21, 2012
haha possibly the stupidest article I have ever read and so incredibly long too. If it flops it will be because its either bad or is targeting a market that doesn't exist. Not based on a leaked photo (that many seem to think will be enhanced in the film with cgi). And this is why I don't use this site for worthwhile journalism. It seems the internet is full of self-important know-it-alls with no credibility to back up their claims.
James Olney on Oct 17, 2012
The whole concept of marketing a film is really interesting stuff. Remember how little we saw of Jurassic Park when it first came out? Of course there was a book so anyone could find out what the story was before hand, but for those that didn't know of the novel, that ad really didn't do anything but tease. They tried the same tactic with Super 8, but whose talking about that film now? Heck no one was talking about it a month after it was in theaters. A better movie like Attack the Block had to pretty much rely on word of mouth alone. Titanic had probably some of the worst preproduction news surrounding it of any recent film I could remember. Everything was about how much it was costing, but I guess the end result of all that was curiosity.
jsmith0552 on Oct 18, 2012
Wow this looks like a crossover between batman movies costumes and ironman.
fhh on Oct 31, 2012
Here's another picture for you Alex: http://i.imgur.com/9ah25.jpg
Mark on Nov 5, 2012
This whole article is gross. You entertain some pretense of being distanced from the likes of TMZ and its ilk, its sensationalism and its exploitation, and yet here you are writing off a film's "success" based on the strength of its marketing as if any of that song and dance should even matter. From your linked editorial: "Not only is the Spidey costume tweaked both in color and function in order to account for certain stunts or CGI sequences, but it just doesn't look right. I would much rather wait to see the vision of Spider-Man that Marc Webb has in his mind, and more importantly his lens, than any shot some paparazzi is taking 300 feet away hiding behind their parked car. Do we really need to see these poor quality photos to be satisfied as fans?" Here's a tip: don't indulge yourself in this bullshit. How about you just watch the movie and have an opinion about it or don't. You're actively contributing to the culture of spectacle and consumerism you seem so frustrated with and you don't even realize it because you're working within its constraints. Ugly set photos will exist as long as you're invested in the narrative surrounding media as much as or more than the media itself. "In the film, when Murphy is turned into Robocop 1.0, it's described 'a high-tech version of the '80s suit.' Then they show a focus group scene where criminals laugh at the design. 'He looks like a toy from the '80s!' So they redesign him to look 'meaner' as Robocop 2.0, who passes focus group approval. So they not only make sure to include the original design, they also point out it’s dated and stupid. *facepalm*"" FACEPALM LOL EPIC FAIL FOR THE LOSE. There's no satirical/cultural/cinematic/artistic value in a RoboCop remake that attempts to simply transplant what the 80s film already accomplished wholesale to the modern day. Satire does not work divorced of context, and the context of 2013/4 is very different than 30 years preceding. Focus testing the original RoboCop (both the film and the design) into obsolescence while simultaneously attempting to profit from its concept is an irony worthy of the original, if you ask me. Your completely missing the point kind of makes it even better. Not that I necessarily expect the remake to be any good!
Parker_S on Jan 21, 2013
his armor looks stupid they need a trailer asap. if ya'll cant do it right stop trying. look at total recall want even close to the original and conan that was horrible
MARZ76 on May 29, 2013
Sorry, new comments are no longer allowed.