DISNEY PREQUEL, ‘PREY’ INSPIRED BY FAN FILM
Disney Studios recently announced a summer 2022 release date of Predator prequel, Prey. Prey takes place 300 years ago in the Comanche Nation, pitting a female Comanche warrior against the famous alien predator. The script was written by Patrick Aison (Kingdom, Jack Ryan) with Dan Trachtenberg directing, and starring Amber Midthunder as the Comanche warrior, Naru. Little known to fans of the franchise, the premise for this recent installment was inspired of all things, by a fan film. Chris Notarile of Blinky Productions wrote and directed a not-for-profit fan short titled Warrior Predator, starring indigenous actress, Lexsy McKeown, as a First Nation warrior protecting her tribe against the alien predator.
Warrior Predator was released on Blinky Production’s Youtube Channel (@blinky500) in 2019. Upon Disney Studio’s announcement of their version of the project (under the title, Skulls) in 2020, Notarile reached out to the Vice President of Intellectual Properties at 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Scott Whiteleather, citing concerns over the highly similar premise of the two films. Whiteleather replied via email, confirming that he had indeed reviewed Notarile’s fan film, and promised that he was “confident that the upcoming motion picture in the Predator franchise will not infringe any protectable elements in [Notarile’s] work.”
Comparing the two film’s promotional posters side by side, the similarities are clear. The costume, hairstyle, makeup, on both McKeown and Midthunder are almost exactly the same. The only thing that seems to differ is the weapons they are holding (Aviles a staff, and Midthunder a bow and arrow). It is currently unknown whether the content and script of the two films are similar as well.
In response to the similarities, Chris Notarile had this to say, “Regardless of what has transpired, I’m happy to know that it’s my work that is being sourced by studios. I only wish they bothered to bring me along for the ride in some capacity.”
Major film studios have been known to be famously overprotective of their franchises in the past, causing tension between them and not-for-profit fan filmmakers, however, recently studios have been looking towards fan films as inspiration to revive tired premises with fresh new perspectives. Could this be the dawning of a new age of fan-inspired content becoming canon? Marvel has already benefited by listening to fans in the casting of Ryan Reynolds as the titular character in Deadpool. As a production company with nearly 100k subscribers on YouTube, surely many fans will be ecstatic to see a Disney/Blinky Productions collaboration in the future!