On Nov. 26, Arrow Video will release a limited collector’s edition Blu-ray set for Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 film RoboCop. Released by Orion Pictures, the film may not have been intended to be a franchise-starter, but it was, and for more than 30 years, fans have been looking for a worthy continuation. Return of the Jedi director Irvin Kershner’s RoboCop 2 (1990) did alright, but Monster Squad director Fred Dekker’s RoboCop 3 (1993) failed to connect with audiences in its initial run. A live-action TV series ignored the two theatrical sequels and aired for just one season in 1994, and a kid-friendly animated series by Marvel did the same in 1998.
Thanks to acquisitions and mergers, RoboCop eventually found a new home at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), where it was rebooted with a remake in 2014. Like music fans who hunger for “the old Kanye,” movie fans were still hungry for the old RoboCop.
Over the past few years, MGM has become an expert in creating licensing programs for properties in its library, including Rocky, The Addams Family, Fargo, Pink Panther, Vikings, Stargate, and yes, RoboCop.
At Brand Licensing Europe (Oct. 1-3), MGM will exhibit a robust lineup of properties as the company looks to build its licensing programs even further, with new partnerships expected to feed fan interest for classics as the studio looks toward the future.
“We’re going to be at BLE in a big way for MGM,” says Robert Marick, MGM’s EVP global consumer products and experiences. “We’re re-emphasizing our entire business, not just for consumer products, but also for experiences. It’s a lot of storytelling to be able to show off all of our properties, and RoboCop is one of those.”
Earlier this year, filmmaker Neill Blomkamp was in the early stages of prepping a new RoboCop film that was said to be discounting the remake and all previous sequels, with a goal of continuing the world established in Verhoeven’s 1987 film.
“I’m excited to say that we’re continuing to build the franchise,” Marick says. “There were scheduling conflicts with our director, Neill Blomkamp, so he bowed out, but we are on-track and working toward a new film release for 2021.” Marick tells the Pop Insider that “RoboCop will be one of the key drivers of MGM’s cross-company global franchise plan.”
For many fans, the prospect of going back to the earlier world of RoboCop was a tantalizing prospect, and one that will likely continue under new direction.
“Neill was spot-on in terms of the direction he was going, with what the fans want, and with bringing the story back to its core,” Marick says. He adds that while the announcement of a new director is pending and that information is fluid, embracing the fans is the direction that MGM is going, and that licensing of the sci-fi action classic will continue to grow.
Following appearances in an odd collection of TV spots for KFC earlier this year, RoboCop is back in the pop culture eye, with new merchandising collaborations with companies such as Super7. Following a successful run of RoboCop ReAction Figures, the company will offer a trio of exclusive, glow-in-the-dark variants at New York Comic Con (NYCC) next week.
“The fans have been with this franchise for 30 years, so we want to celebrate the past, but also put a twist on it for the future,” Marick says. “This is a property that has such a wide appeal that we can have something for everyone, from toys and games, to experiential.”
On a similar note, Stargate is another property in the MGM portfolio that’s been on a huge upswing in recent years. Inspired by the 1994 film from director Roland Emmerich, the extensions of Stargate across mediums, including Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe aired in more than 64 countries worldwide.
This summer, MGM played host to a celebration of Stargate Atlantis’ 15th anniversary at Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC), complete with a panel discussion, and a photo opp featuring the Stargate itself, located in the Theatre Box directly below the Pop Insider‘s rooftop pop-up party. With the franchise celebrating its 25th anniversary, the global licensing program will include new publishing, role playing games, collectibles, apparel, and more.
“We have rabid fans for Stargate, and we have a responsibility to make sure we’re engaging with them,” Marick says. In many cases, that means coming together for live events, including SDCC, Wonder Con, and Gen Con, in addition to Gateway: The Official Stargate Convention, produced by Creation Entertainment. “As with RoboCop, with Stargate, we’re always looking for new opportunities to expand the franchise across more categories and experiences,” Marick says.