Is Prey a Predator prequel? It’s complicated, director says

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Prey director Dan Trachtenberg has attempted to clarify whether the upcoming Predator movie is actually a prequel.

Speaking exclusively to TechRadar at the film's UK junket, Trachtenberg surprisingly revealed that he doesn't refer to Prey as a Predator prequel. As Trachtenberg goes on to explain, though, there's a significant reason why he doesn't believe the upcoming Hulu movie is a prequel film in the traditional sense.

“I personally never refer to it as a prequel,” Trachtenberg said. “Although, technically, I think it is. When we initially announced [Prey], it was suggested that we were going to tell the origin story of the Predator. That is not what we're doing.”

What kind of movie is Prey, then? As it turns out, the answer is a lot more complicated than we previously thought.

With the Disney Plus film – it'll be available on Disney's streamer in non-US territories – set 300 years before the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring Predator movie, Prey is technically a prequel film. However, as Trachtenberg confirmed, it doesn't chart the origins of the Yautja – the Predator species' real name – in the same way that, say, Prometheus revealed how the facehuggers and xenomorphs came into being. Or, at the very least, how their prototype iterations were born, which inevitably leads to these creatures evolving into the facehuggers and xenomorphs we see in other Alien movies.

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So, how do we define Prey as a movie? It's set well before the events of the first Predator film, which took place in 1987, but it's not an origins story per se. It could be classed as a pre-sequel – i.e. a film that's set before previous entries in the franchise, but one that was released after them. Again, though, that only muddies the waters further. All signs, then, point towards it being a prequel in Predator film franchise.

That is, unless it takes place in a different timeline. Multiple movie series, particularly those involving time travel, have started to mess with the linearity of their timelines, either in a bid to reinvent the franchise or tell new stories using established characters we've seen before. 

The most recent Star Trek films, starring the likes of Chris Pine's Commander Kirk and Zachary Quinto's Spock, are a classic example. The creative team behind 2009's Star Trek, 2013's Star Trek: Into Darkness, and more set these films in a completely new timeline – the Kelvin Timeline – to circumnavigate issues with using characters we've seen in previous Star Trek flicks, such as those starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and Kirk and Spock. Other movie series, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and DC Extended Universe (DCEU) – read our Marvel movies in order and DCEU movies in order guides for more – have also experimented with nonlinear or complex timeline formulas.

Asked if Prey exists in a separate timeline to the other four Predator films that preceded it, however, Trachtenberg wasn't sure if Disney and 20th Century Studios consider it to live alongside those other productions.

“This is obviously set 300 years in the past, so technically speaking [it should exist alongside those movies],” he replied. “I don't think it's a separate timeline, but I could be wrong.”

Despite Trachtenberg's reluctance to use the word “prequel”, that's arguably the best and simplest way to describe Prey. Otherwise, we'll be debating the issue all day.

For more Prey-based content, read up on the odd quirk that sets the latest Predator movie apart from its predecessors. Alternatively, check out our list of the best sci-fi movies ever, or watch one of these five top-tier sci-fi shows will we wait for Apple TV Plus' flagship sci-fi series Foundation to return.

Be sure to check back in with TechRadar later today for our spoiler-free review of Prey. And keep an eye out for our exclusive, in-depth chat with Trachtenberg, lead actor Amber Midthunder, and executive producer Jhane Meyers later this week.

Prey launches on Hulu in the US and Disney Plus in non-US regions on Friday, August 5.

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