Robert Rodriguez's Predators was a 1996 script draft for a sequel to Predator 2. Rodriguez was the first person to tackle the Predators project, although after his script was rejected development of the film would stall for over a decade. While several of the main story elements were retained in Predators, the script is otherwise quite different from the film that was eventually made. The story revolves around Alan "Dutch" Schaefer and a group of soldiers who are forced to fight both Predators and other captive aliens in gladiatorial-style battles staged in an arena on an alien planet, and their attempts to escape. When the project was finally picked up, it was followed by the first draft of what would become the final shooting script, written by Michael Finch and Alex Litvak.
An antiquated galleon sailing across an unidentified ocean is suddenly attacked by cloaked figures armed with Predator weaponry. The galleon's crew are quickly slaughtered, with the exception of one man who is taken alive — an aged Dutch. The figures surround Dutch, deactivate their cloaks and remove their Predator armor to reveal that they are human soldiers, here to capture Dutch. He is taken aboard their spacecraft while the galleon is destroyed.
Aboard the soldiers' mother ship, Dutch is informed that he is to stand trial for various crimes he has committed, including desertion, weapons smuggling and murder. He is quickly found guilty in a court martial held via video conference. The leader of the soldiers, Jack Carver, better known as JC, is then told by his superior officer Sadler that rather than returning Dutch to Earth as planned, he is to be taken to a prison on the planet Arkus 6. JC is weary of this change in procedure, not least of all because his team had been hoping to return home, but accepts on promise of double pay. They travel to Arkus 6 and set down on the surface, only to find the outpost at the landing site destroyed and deserted.
The group elects to travel to the prison complex on foot, hoping to find answers. On the way, they encounter a Predator that has been crucified and left to die. Despite the fact the soldiers are all equipped with Predator equipment, they are startled and confused by the discovery — all except Dutch. The Predator attacks a man who gets too close to it, and in the commotion Dutch slips his bonds and flees into the jungle. The rest of the group pursues, but they are set upon by dozens of Predators. Some are killed, but most are captured with Netguns and taken alive. The surviving soldiers are taken to a large camp and placed inside cages around central arena. Numerous other cages contain a wide array of voracious alien creatures. Dutch is nowhere to be seen.
In the central arena, immature Predators fight with prey as a rite of passage into maturity, and the survivors realize they too are destined for the arena. One of the soldiers, a woman named Hardwick, manages to escape her cage and flees into the jungle with a large Black Predator in pursuit. She is suddenly grabbed by Dutch, who escaped the earlier confrontation with the Predators, and is saved when he throws them both into a pool of mud to shield them from the Black Predator's thermal vision. Back at the camp, some of the soldiers are tested in the arena against alien creatures for the Predators' amusement, while others are mutilated and experimented upon to make more interesting prey. One wounded man is executed using an antique French guillotine, and the soldiers realize mankind has been secretly trading with the Predators for some time, which is presumably how they came to be supplied with Predator equipment and weapons.
Dutch and Hardwick make it back to the landing site where they originally set down, but find their ship is gone. They encounter another soldier who managed to escape the camp, and with no alternative elect to return and try and free the others. They attack, releasing as many of the alien prey creatures as they can to create havoc, and most of the surviving soldiers manage to flee amid the chaos. However, Hardwick is captured and forced to fight another soldier to the death in the arena. She is victorious, and is then faced by a Predator which she also defeats. The prize for her victory is death, as ten other Predators set upon her.
The remaining survivors continue on to the prison, hoping to find either assistance or a means of escape. Inside the underground complex, they find the Predators have been splicing humans and aliens together to create docile slave creatures. Repeatedly hounded by Predators, Dutch and JC eventually encounter Sadler within the facility, who reveals that the military has been trading human victims with the Predators in exchange for access to their advanced weaponry. Dutch in particular was viewed by the Predators as a huge prize because he defeated the Predator in South America many years before, and Sadler had promised to deliver him to them. Dutch and JC manage to escape once more and flee the complex on Predator hoverbikes, while Sadler is cut down in the crossfire.
Dutch and JC return to the crucified Predator and Dutch releases it, proposing that it will be an ally against the other Predators, their common enemy. Meanwhile, the Predators relentlessly track down and kill the few surviving soldiers, one of whom has gone insane and is found eating a Predator that he has cooked on an open fire. Another is pitted against the Black Predator in single combat and emerges victorious, but like Hardwick is then butchered by the other Predators. Dutch and JC are also captured, and brought back to the camp before the Predator King, who is brought in atop a throne constructed of the skulls of prey. JC reveals himself to be in league with the Predators, just like Sadler, but is betrayed by the King and forced to fight Dutch, who defeats and kills him. Just as Dutch prepares to face his death at the hands of the Predators, the crucified Predator returns in a spacecraft and begins bombarding the camp, killing many of its occupants. Dutch clambers aboard the ship, killing the King as he does so, and escapes Arkus 6 with the crucified Predator.
The Predator sets course for Earth, intending to return Dutch home, but Dutch sombrely theorizes that a full-scale Predator invasion of Earth is likely.
While Rodriguez's script was heavily rewritten for the final shooting script, many key plot elements he developed were carried over, including the central theme of humans being captured by the Predators for use as prey on an alien planet. The inclusion of non-human prey in the story ultimately translated as the River Ghost creature in the film, while the "Black Predator" can be seen as the template for Berserker. The Crucified Predator also exists in the script, and fulfils much the same role as in the film (although crucially it survives in the screenplay).
Despite these similarities, the script is far grander in scale than the film that was eventually made. Whereas there are just four Predators in Predators, there are more than fifty in the script, as well as a larger group of human characters and a much greater number of alien creatures involved. The subplot of traitorous humans colluding with the Predators in order to acquire their advanced technology was completely cut, as was the return of Dutch; while it was initially intended to give Dutch a far reduced role in the final movie in the form of a cameo, Arnold Schwarzenegger was unavailable for filming and the idea was scrapped.
- ↑ "JoBlo - What could have been: Schwarzenegger's Predators cameo". Retrieved on 2014-10-10.