Dan Trachtenberg says 'Prey' was never PG-13 and had to 'embrace brutality' (exclusive)

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Watch: Dan Trachtenberg on Prey violence and making original franchise movies

Director Dan Trachtenberg says there was never a suggestion that his Predator movie Prey should tone down its violence in order to secure a PG-13 certificate.

The 10 Cloverfield Lane filmmaker's movie delves back in time to depict a group of Comanche warriors, including Amber Midthunder's heroine Naru, fighting for survival when a Predator arrives close to their home.

It's a visceral and bloody action tale — and rated 16 on Disney+ — which marks it out as something of an outlier in a Hollywood landscape that often prefers to blunt the edge of movies in order to secure a more permissible age rating.

Read more: Is Predator 2 a misunderstood masterpiece?

"The Predator franchise is really known for being very R-rated, with an exception in one of the AvP films," Trachtenberg told Yahoo.

He added: "Its roots are in slasher film language, so I very much wanted to embrace what I think people started out enjoying about the Predator films.

Dan Trachtenberg steps into the Predator franchise to direct new prequel movie Prey. (Getty/Disney)
Dan Trachtenberg steps into the Predator franchise to direct new prequel movie Prey. (Getty/Disney)

"I wanted to bring a few more elements to it, but we had to embrace I think the brutality. For sure, that's a key component to the franchise."

Read more: The goriest films Disney acquired in Fox buyout

Trachtenberg is developing a reputation for unconventional spins on franchise material, having reinvented Cloverfield before and now delivering a Predator movie unlike any previous entry in the series.

The 41-year-old said this trend in his career is "not intentional", but is a reflection of the dominance of franchise material in the movie industry today.

Trachtenberg said: "Certainly, making franchise films has become the standard. Most movies we make today — not all of them, but most of them — are centred around an IP, so I just think it's smart to use that as a platform to tell an original story.

Amber Midthunder leads the cast of Prey as a Comanche warrior facing off against a Predator. (20th Century Studios/Disney)
Amber Midthunder leads the cast of Prey as a Comanche warrior facing off against a Predator. (20th Century Studios/Disney)

"I'm certainly not the only person doing that by a long shot. I think the Marvel movies have become a bit of a platform for any genre. I don't think they're all just superhero films.

"They're where we get our political thrillers and our adventure films and our sci-fi. We get all of the genres just on a very unique platform. I tried to look at [Prey] that way as well."

Read more: Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down cameo in The Predator

Despite feeding into an established franchise with name recognition, Trachtenberg said his more enigmatic title was in place from the original pitch, which he sent to 20th Century Studios while they were still making Shane Black's 2018 movie The Predator.

Trachtenberg said: "I thought that the only chance this movie had of getting into production as soon as possible — which is always of interest for a director — was by saying that, whatever you're making with the Predator franchise, you can also make this movie — sort of like how Rogue One and Solo came out alongside the main [Star Wars] trilogy.

Dakota Beavers and Amber Midthunder play Comanche warriors in Prey. (20th Century Studios)
Dakota Beavers and Amber Midthunder play Comanche warriors in Prey. (20th Century Studios)

"I thought I'd better give them a title that would reflect that notion. That title just stuck around because, of course, it functions so similar to Predator.

"It has that same double meaning, but also suggests that this is its own thing as well."

Read more: A brief history of the Predator franchise

Prey features a brief tease for a sequel during its animated end credits and, although Trachtenberg said there is "nothing to speak of" in terms of a follow-up, he conceded that he "would love to make more Predator movies, for sure".

Whatever happens next, his first attempt with Prey is available to stream via Disney+ from 5 August.

Watch: Trailer for Predator prequel Prey

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