In an interview with Variety for the 35th anniversary of the film, “Predator” producer John Davis discussed Arnold Schwarzenegger’s absence from the sequel. Davis confirmed the actor was actually set to return for “Predator 2” before talks fell apart for an all-too-predictable reason:
“Arnold was gonna play [the lead] role. The studio was negotiating with him, and the whole deal fell apart over $250,000. 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.“
I personally think Schwarzenegger dodged a bullet by not returning, freeing him up to focus on “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” instead. Still, the exact reasoning behind his “Predator 2” exit is pretty funny looking back at it. Setting aside the fact that the money he was offered is now chump change for huge action actors (I’d gladly accept it, mind you), losing Schwarzenegger just so that he could outdo “Predator 2” with the “Terminator” sequel is the kind of karma that makes these stories fun to hear about. “Predator 2” has its moments, but dang, it’s hard to imagine anyone seriously arguing it’s better than “Judgement Day.”
No matter the case, in the grander scheme of the franchise, “Predator 2” (shockingly) remains near the top half in quality. Perhaps that’s more of an indication of the lackluster sequels that came after, but “Predator 2” holds a unique place in creature feature history worth remembering — although it’s also difficult not to wonder what might’ve been, had Schwarzenegger not been deemed too expensive at the height of his stardom.