Arnold Schwarzenegger Didn’t Return For Predator 2 For One Reason

Arnold Schwarzenegger has not returned to the Predator franchise since the first movie and now we know why.

By Vic Medina | Published

arnold schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger solidified his action-star status with his role in 1987’s Predator, the classic sci-fi/horror flick that pitted American special forces soldiers against a nearly-invincible alien hunter. After the huge success of the film, fans expected Schwarzenegger to reprise his role as Dutch for the 1990 sequel, but he was replaced with Danny Glover, and now we know why. In a new interview with Variety, producer John Davis reveals that the issue was money, as you might expect, but not nearly as much as you would think. Arnold had his set asking price, and the studio had their offer, and neither side would budge. And filmgoers suffered for it.

According to Davis, the two sides were only $250,000 apart when negotiations fell through. “The studio was negotiating with him, and the whole deal fell apart over $250,000,” Davis said. “And it was obvious: Joe Roth, who was the head of the studio at the time, just said, ‘I won’t go past this number’ and Arnold wanted this other number.” Davis didn’t reveal what Schwarzenegger’s asking price for the sequel was, but we do know he earned $11 million for his role in Total Recall, the film he did instead of Predator 2. Considering his salary for the first Predator was $3.5 million, $11 million was a sharp rise in pay, but it seems almost unthinkable these days that a mere $250,000 kept Arnold Schwarzenegger out of the second film.

Predator 2 ended up suffering at the box office as a result. Although Danny Glover was a great lead in the sequel, which found him fighting the Predator on the gritty streets of Los Angeles, fans stayed away in droves. The first Predator earned over $98 million at the box office in 1987, but the second film could only manage a $55 million haul. Considering Arnold Schwarzenegger was the world’s biggest box office draw at the time, the $250,000 difference in pay that kept him out of the film would have returned millions more in box office revenue. These days, a quarter million would barely cover Arnold’s cigar budget for a film.

The sequel’s poor numbers also derailed the franchise for years, as the Predator wouldn’t hit the silver screen again until 2004’s AVP: Alien vs. Predator. A string of disappointing sequels followed, with the one exception being 2010’s Predators, with Adrien Brody in the lead. It scored a 65% on Rotten Tomatoes, the best rating for a Predator film since the original Arnold Schwarzenegger film. The newest entry in the Predator series, Prey, premiered this month on Hulu, and scored a 93% on RT, far better than the original film, which stands at 80%. Prey, which stars Amber Midthunder in the lead role, tells the story of a Predator that comes to hunt in the American wilderness in the 1700s, only to meet its match with a young Comanche warrior. The success of Prey has jump-started buzz around the franchise, with reports that not only is another film in development but a TV series as well.

Even though Prey seems to have gotten the Predator franchise back on track, Davis laments what could have been, if 20th Century Fox had managed to bring Arnold Schwarzenegger back for Predator 2. “The Thomas brothers (who wrote the first film) wrote that also, and Stephen Hopkins directed it. It was a really wonderful script,” Davis said in his Variety interview, which delves into the history of bringing Predator to the screen in 1987 and the six sequels it spawned. The original film was also a big break for director John McTiernan, who would go on to direct action classics like Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October.