You probably remember that at one point in the early aughts, Ridley Scott wanted to return to the ‘Alien‘ franchise. This is years before “Prometheus” took shape and this version would have essentially been a more traditional “Aliens 5” with Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, and the alien battle taking place on Earth. But the “Aliens Vs. Predator” series not only stole the idea, but in the eyes of Scott, it sullied the franchise and he didn’t want anything to do with it. Though, they did consider it regardless for a while. “We’d have to go back to the drawing board on [the fifth alien film],” Weaver told MTV in 2008. “Ridley said that right away when we first talked about [a fifth film].” But in the end he wiped his hands clean of it all for years until he found the right way to reboot the series with the prequel-like “Prometheus.”
But did you know James Cameron could have been involved as well? Scott obviously got the series started with “Alien,” and Cameron made another classic in the action-heavy “Aliens,” but at that point, the two sequels that followed were major disappointments. During a recent Reddit AMA, Cameron spoke about the potential plan that was cooking up way back in the day.
“We never talked about [doing] ‘Alien 3,’ ” Cameron said. “I don’t remember the timing exactly, but I might have been making ‘The Abyss‘ at that time, also for Fox. What came up was the idea of doing ‘Alien 5,’ and at one point I pitched that I would write it and produce it, and Ridley would direct it, and we had lunch talking about this, and we were in violent agreement, then nothing happened. What happened was Fox went ahead with ‘Aliens Vs Predator,’ and I said, ‘I really don’t recommend that, you’ll ruin the franchise, it’s like Universal doing ‘Dracula versus the Werewolf,’ ‘ and then I lost interest in doing an Alien film. But ‘Prometheus’ is seen as the A-level alien, as opposed to rather, the derivative. I don’t think I have anything to offer on the ‘Prometheus’ sequels, that’s Ridley’s, I think I’ll stick to the ‘Avatar’ universe.”
A James Cameron-written and -produced “Alien” movie directed by Ridley Scott, starring Sigourney Weaver? That would have been a powerhouse effort, no doubt. Incidentally, what did Cameron think of “Prometheus”? Well, sounds like he was a bit cool on it.
“Interesting. I thought it was an interesting film,” he said. “I thought it was thought provoking and beautifully, visually mounted, but at the end of the day it didn’t add up logically. But I enjoyed it, and I’m glad it was made. I liked it better than the previous two Alien sequels.”
How did he feel about the two previous “Alien” films? He doesn’t say in the AMA, but in a 2003 BBC interview, Cameron railed into the David Fincher-directed “Alien 3” with venom. “Hated it. Simple as that. I hated what they did…. I couldn’t stand ‘Alien 3’ – how they could just go in there and kill off all these great characters we introduced in aliens, and the correlation between mother and daughter? It stunk, but hopefully I’ll get a chance to rectify all that. We’re looking at doing another one. Something similar to what we did with ‘Aliens.’ A bunch of great characters, and of course Sigourney. I’ve even discussed the possibility of putting him [Arnold Schwarzenegger] into the Alien movie.”
So yep, not only did you miss out on Cameron, Scott and Weaver, but you could have had Arnold too. Of course, that interview was done around the time of “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.” In the AMA he said, “I don’t think that the 3rd or 4th [Terminator] film[s] lived up to that [franchise] potential.”
But that being said, he also still has some praise for the third movie: “There was a small part of me that hoped it wasn’t good – but another part of me hope’d it succeeded. And it did. And I’m so glad it did. Jonathon’s made a great movie. Arnold’s in great form. I really like what he’s done with it.”
Anyway, for more on the mooted “Alien 5,” be sure to read “The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made” which has a full account of the development of that project before it all fell apart. Fascinating stuff.