Why Fox? WHY?
With Prometheus poised to re-invigorate the universe that has for so long wallowed beneath the depths of mediocrity, it’s an appropriate time to take a look back an Alien movie that was torched whilst still stirring in its egg-like sac.
Before 20th Century Fox moved forward with 2004′s Alien vs. Predator in the hopes of milking both properties dry, they were approached by Aliens (1986) director James Cameron who had an idea for a fifth entry into the Xenoverse.
Cameron had been collaborating with none other than Alien’s own Ridley Scott and was working on a story for a movie that both filmmakers would co-produce (with Cameron directing).
Let’s let that sink in shall we? Scott and Cameron collaborate. Cameron directs.
So what would the film have been like?
Speaking to Dark Horizons in 2003, Cameron said “Something similiar to what we did with Aliens. A bunch of great characters, and of course Sigourney [Weaver]. I’ve even discussed the possibility of putting Arnold Schwarzenegger into the Alien movie.”
Buckets (literally) of KY Jelly were used on the Alien Queen, making puppeteering a nightmare.
Are you still reading this or did your head just explode?
An Aliens-style film that would also re-forge the unbeatable combination of Cameron and Schwarzenegger? Schwarzenegger co-starring alongside Weaver to battle those Giger nasties is something I think everybody wants to see.
Yeah yeah, nerdsquee, get over it – surely Cameron would not have had the hard edge required for making a nasty Alien film after Titanic promoted him to ‘King of the World’ status?
Here’s what Cameron had to say regarding the film’s tone:
“The original Alien holds a special classic niche as one of the great terrifying experiences. And the trick is you don’t go crazy and make a $150-million movie because you don’t want to have to compromise, you don’t want to try to do a PG-13 Alien that is all things to everyone. It’s got to still maintain its roots in this kind of cinematic id. Ridley did it really beautifully. He just kind of put you into this Freudian nightmare space.”
Get away from her you bi-otch? Hmm, let me get back to you.
Do we have a surefire hit here or what? Who could possibly say no to this?
Apparently, Fox could.
When he was still in the midst of writing the film, the studio got back to Cameron and – in what must be one of the most boneheaded studio decisions in history, informed him that they had just gotten a really good script for Alien Vs. Predator and were going to move forward with that instead.
Cameron, understandably was upset, and scrapped all work on Alien 5.
In a 2005 interview with AICN, he recounts the story: ‘I said, “You do that you’re going to kill the validity of the franchise in my mind.” Because to me, that was FRANKENSTEIN MEETS WEREWOLF. It was Universal just taking their assets and starting to play them off against each other.’
They mostly come out at night. Mostly.
What really highlights the studio’s misstep was the paltry box office receipts that the AvP films garnered for such high profile franchises. In their bid to factory-produce a surefire hit by combining two bankable names, they only managed to dilute the appeal of both properties and turn down a great film from Mr. Box Office himself.
The last few years suggest that Fox have, thankfully, learned from their mistake.
After backing Cameron’s risky Sci-Fi dream project in ‘Avatar’ (2009), they explicitly held out on rushing back into the Alien universe without the direct involvement of Ridley Scott – and now we’re getting what looks like one of the most exciting science fiction films in years.
- Adam Bustin