- Prey director Dan Trachtenberg explains why an initial scene of Naru encountering the Predator in the trees was ultimately cut from the movie.
- Trachtenberg had concerns about the scene looking like Tarzan and the cost and time it would take to execute it properly.
- The alternate first encounter could have impacted the rest of the movie by showing Naru’s hunting skills earlier and potentially diminishing the surprise and stakes of her final encounter with the Predator.
Prey director Dan Trachtenberg explains why a scene introducing Naru to the new Predator sooner was cut. The Predator franchise’s return to feature movies saw Amber Midthunder’s determined young hunter set out to prove herself when another hunter from across the stars began its own bloody game across the Great Plains in 1719. While Prey passed over a theatrical release and instead went straight to Hulu, it earned widespread acclaim from critics and has been seen as a return to form for the franchise.
With Prey now receiving a home release, Trachtenberg sat down with /Film and opened up about the movie’s production, shedding some light on moments that didn’t make it into the final cut. The director revealed that initially, Naru would encounter the Predator in the trees early on. For various reasons, which he explained, this was cut. Check out Trachtenberg’s complete explanation below:
I don’t. This was a little bit of a filmmaking director trick of the trade. On the one hand, it was a sequence as we were devising it — Naru was in the tree in the beginning, so in my mind, it was to set up the sequence at the end, that the physical capabilities were there and the visual language was sort of already in the movie. I love the idea of seeing her running through the tree, and the Predator up there, because he’s up in the tree so often in these films. Putting her up there, too, it could have been really fun. But I was also incredibly nervous that it ended up looking like Tarzan. The execution had to be perfect for it to be great. Then, it was also becoming very costly to do, and [it was] time-consuming, which, sometimes, is the same thing.
It was in the parking lot next to our stage, starting to map out where the trees were going to go, and having a talk with my producers about the cost and the implications and what’s our schedule and other things that we needed also. So rather than fight to make it work, when other things were getting squeezed, I sort of waited until the things that were also critical were getting impacted. I said, “You know what? What if we lost the thing? What if I took out that whole sequence? Then we could do this other … Surely, you can’t tell me that we can’t.”
But in the back of my mind, it was like, Okay, Dan. You’re nervous about it already. Listen to your gut. It might not be great. The thing that I was the saddest to lose was, I thought, a clever use of the cut clamp, one of the Predator’s weapons that Naru has in the sequence. So now, I’m glad that people can kind of see what it was. Previz is a tool that we use all the time in movies and TV sometimes, and movie fans and potential future filmmakers never get to see that stuff, so it’s cool that they have it now.
How Prey’s Alternate First Encounter Could’ve Impacted The Rest Of The Movie
While Trachtenberg’s initial idea for Naru and the Predator’s first meeting was scrapped, the idea of it leaves the question of how Prey‘s narrative would be impacted by the sequence. It could be argued that seeing Naru’s keen hunting skills could’ve impacted her journey, as her growth from a young hunter to the slayer of an advanced alien rival helped endear her to the audience, solidifying her as a captivating protagonist. While it likely wouldn’t dampen her growth too much, it would make her actions in during the ending of Prey less of a surprise, as her skills would’ve already been shown.
Furthermore, Naru’s first true encounter with the Predator in Prey‘s final cut would surely be diminished if the pair met earlier. Naru’s first glimpse at the Predator is both a surprise for her and the audience, as the alien makes his presence known when he slays a grizzly bear that she has been battling alone. Not only is the Predator’s bloody intervention a shock, but it being able to annihilate large threats like bears with ease instantly makes Naru see how dangerous her foe truly is, raising the stakes further than before.
While Prey‘s alternate first encounter established Naru’s skill set and parallels with her Predator rival, the final execution proves that a longer wait may have been worth it. Alongside making her growth more captivating to watch and allowing further surprises, the greater build-up allowed for more anticipation around the Predator’s on-screen debut. However, Trachtenberg still ensured a pre-visualized concept of this scene exists to give viewers a glimpse at an alternate take on the movie.