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The next Predator movie already sounds like a great direction for the franchise

Badlands, Dan Trachtenberg’s follow-up to Prey, has been greenlit and will shoot this summer

A Predator alien wearing his skull mask in Prey Image: David Bukach/20th Century Studios
Tasha Robinson leads Polygon’s movie coverage. She’s covered film, TV, books, and more for 20 years, including at The A.V. Club, The Dissolve, and The Verge.

According to a piece in The Hollywood Reporter on Friday, director Dan Trachtenberg has gotten the greenlight for a second Predator movie, following his straight-to-Hulu horror-thriller Prey. But while Prey’s critical success and streaming success as Hulu’s most-watched premiere ever had fans expecting a Prey 2 would eventually be made, the report says Trachtenberg’s new Predator movie will be called Badlands, and will be set “sometime in the future.”

As vague as that sounds — and as thrilling as it might be to return to Amber Midthunder’s Great Plains Comanche warrior character Naru in a direct sequel to Prey — the news is an early hint that Trachtenberg is being given the freedom to make the Predator movie he wants to make. And that’s inherently good news for fans of the franchise.

“While making [Prey], we really enjoyed conjuring up all the special unique things that we could do, not only just in this franchise but also in this genre, that would be unexpected,” Trachtenberg told Polygon in late 2023. “Some things happened that are very expected, but some things were very much not. And so all that stuff was and continues to be really fun to think about and explore.”

Naru (Amber Midthunder), a Comanche woman in handmade leather clothing, bares her teeth in a snarl as she faces the approaching Predator in Prey Image: Hulu/Everett Collection

The idea of doing Prey as a period piece set in the 1700s, rather than as a modern-day thriller like the original movie, or Shane Black’s 2018 installment The Predator, was seen as a risk. It was an unexpected twist for the franchise, one that guaranteed Prey wouldn’t be able to rely on big guns or high-tech weaponry for its action. But that also turned out to be the strength of the movie, both because the setting reset the stakes for anyone fighting a Predator, and because it let Trachtenberg reimagine the adversary’s visual design and the combat methods involved in facing it.

“We wanted to change it more than it’s ever been changed before so it could be a new sight, a new thrill, even for diehard fans of the franchise,” Trachtenberg told Polygon at the time.

It’s obviously too soon to know how Badlands will follow Trachtenberg’s push for innovation and the unexpected in the Predator franchise. But given that he isn’t returning to the same designs, setting, and character with this next crack at the series, it’s a safe bet that he wants to do something specific with it — and that the producers at 20th Century Studios are trusting his vision rather than insisting that he copycat himself by reproducing all the elements that made Prey a hit.

In fact, THR reports, the studio is “planning a host of Predator projects, with Trachtenberg at the center” — also a vague promise, but one that sounds a bit like he’s become the James Gunn of the Predator franchise. Having one person in place to shape the series, particularly someone who’s already shown an interest in breaking it out of its repetitive mold, seems like a push in the right direction.

No release date has been set yet for Badlands, but THR says it’s set for production in summer 2024, which likely points at a 2025 release.

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