Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: MGM is negotiating with Brazilian director Jose Padilha to direct Robocop, the remake of the futuristic 1987 film originally helmed by Paul Verhoeven. The original was about a cop who was near death and was drafted to become a powerful cyborg cop, until suppressed memories of his past life come back to haunt him. Peter Weller played the character in the original him in the original and the 1990 sequel.

Reconstituted under Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, MGM has targeted Robocop as its first major franchise play, and they worked hard to find a filmmaker who could play on a global field. They were impressed by Padilha’s track record with taut crime dramas Elite Squad and a sequel that came out in 2010. Those films were Portuguese language and didn’t play huge in the U.S. But Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within grossed over $60 million in Brazil alone last year, surpassing Avatar, Shrek Forever and Alice in Wonderland in Padilha’s home country. The original won a Golden Bear at the 2007 Berlinale. Once Padilha is aboard, they will set a writer who’ll work under the director’s supervision.

The Robocop remake once had Black Swan helmer Darren Aronofsky developing it to direct before MGM halted progress on all of its pictures while trying to fix its finances. Aronofsky moved over to direct Fox’s Wolverine sequel with Hugh Jackman. MGM emerged from Chapter 11 and converted its crushing debt of $4.25 billion into equity. The studio is moving forward with James Bond–Deadline broke the story that it’s headed for distribution by Sony, with Javier Bardem in talks to play the Bond villain opposite Daniel Craig for director Sam Mendes.

Padilha also directed the documentary Bus 174, about what happened on June 12, 2000 when a bus was taken hostage by armed young men. It played out all day on the Brazilian TV networks and ended horribly. Padilha is repped by CAA.