June 10, 2012
James Cameron Wanted To Direct 'ALIEN 5' Starring Weaver And Schwarzenegger
Prometheus has divided fans and new audiences alike but is an interesting addition to the longstanding Alien saga. Before it's development as an Alien prequel Prometheus had originally been discussed as Alien 5 seeing the return of Ripley. There had been talks between Ridley Scott and James Cameron on how to continue the Ripley story in another movie. Scott and Cameron had planned on becoming producing partners with Jim handling the direction. They presented this pitch to the studio only to have Fox move forward with the infamously terrible AVP. Cameron spoke to AICN stating the studio made him upset choosing AVP over a Scott/Cameron Alien 5.
Fox would later greenlight Avatar and Cameron has been obsessed with his $2.8 billion franchise's future ever since. He has since announced that Alita and the Avatar sequels will be his only focus from now on. This dashes any chances of Jim returning to director future Alien or Terminator films. It's sill fun to imagine what could have been if Jim and Ridley ended up working together on the fifth installment.
"Yeah. Ridley and I talked about doing another ALIEN film and I said to 20th Century Fox that I would develop a 5th ALIEN film. I started working on a story, I was working with another writer and Fox came back to me and said, "We've got this really good script for ALIEN VS PREDATOR and I got pretty upset. 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."
A quote from Dark Horizons in 2003 gives the impression the film would have brought the series back to the original roots of Aliens. A hard-nosed action film with plenty of character development and a familiar face added to the cast. Cameron and Ridley were going to develop a new story with Sigourney back as Ripley and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a new supporting role along with a new lineup of interesting characters. How these new characters would have factored into this project isn't fully known. There had been talk of going to the xenomorph's harsh home planet (Pandora?) which could have come from Jim's then unproduced script for Avatar.
"To an extent. yes. 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."
RUNDOWN OF ALIEN 4 AND WHEDON'S ALIEN 5 SCRIPT
Alien Resurrection like every other Alien film had script issues and an interesting group of prospective directors. Some future big names were involved in early talks which included Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Trainspotting), Peter Jackson (pre-Lord of The Rings) and Bryan Singer (pre-X-Men). The studio ended up going with French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet who was known for his unique visual style at the time. Toy Story screenwriter Joss Whedon was hired to develop a script which for the most part kept getting rejected by the studio. An early draft focused on a clone of Newt from Aliens but would later be asked to change it to Ripley, a third-act set on Earth was also axed. Joss wrote five versions of the final act none of which ended up in final film. Whedon is best known for writing excellent characters and the pirates of the Betty had the Whedon stamp all over them.
In the director's cut, the Betty lands on Earth leaving the door open for the return of Ripley, Call, Johner and Vriess for Alien 5. Whedon wrote a script for Alien 5 which would take place on Earth ending with a battle for the planet but Weaver couldn't buy into it's setting. It would eventually develop into what we know now as Prometheus and the Ripley saga has pretty much ended. A very interesting juxtapose as years later Joss would see his name alongside Cameron with Avengers becoming the 3rd highest grossing movie of all-time just under Titanic. Do you think 20th Century Fox should maybe consider hiring Whedon to write the Prometheus sequel's script?
ALIEN 3 COULD HAVE ALSO BEEN DIRECTED BY CAMERON
Cameron had a similar issue trying to put Alien 3 together as he was committed to make a Terminator sequel first. Jim had planned to keep Ripley, Newt, Hicks and Bishop alive for the next installment as an unconventional family unit placed in a new story. The studio got impatient with Cameron and started work on hiring a new director and developing stories/scripts. The director didn't mix words about the botched sequel and gave a true reaction to his much-loved characters being killed off. I couldn't agree with Jim more here as the franchise never really was able to recreate the identifying characters that were showcased in Aliens.
"This isn’t a man whose going to whitewash his opinion either, take for example his reaction to “Alien 3″ – “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."
Fox hoped they could convince Ridley Scott to come back for the third installment which didn't work out. Weaver had made it known she felt slighted by the studio when they cut her emotional scenes in Aliens and really wanted to be done with Ripley. So producers would start develop early concepts focusing around Hicks being the new hero in "a complex two-part story that offered the underhanded Weyland-Yutani Corporation facing off with a militarily aggressive culture of humans whose rigid socialist ideology has caused them to separate from Earth's society" development during the early stages. Weaver's role in Alien 3 would have been just a cameo which she seemed happy with. Then Alien 4 would bring her back "in an epic battle with alien warriors mass produced by the expatriated Earthlings." Having Michael Biehn become the new face of the franchise seemed like a natural progression and logical way to keep the films going. He did prove in both Terminator and Aliens he was capable as an action star similar to Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis.
One of the scripts had the inclusion of a prison planet where the population was being experimented by the company which was written by David Twohy (influencing his Riddick franchise?). That aspect of David's script was used along with some bits from others. By the end of it the producers ended up rewriting the shooting script with Weaver back in the lead earning for the time a big paycheck of $5 million. Fox hired newcomer David Fincher and had one of the most worked on scripts in the franchise history. There had been six different writers (William Gibson, Eric Red, David Twohy, Walter Hill, Vincent Ward, David Giler) not including the uncredited work from Fincher and Rex Pickett. The producers felt it necessary to kill off both Hicks and Newt within the opening of the film. Whatever the reason this choice pretty much destroyed any hope of Cameron's ideas to be put on screen.
Cameron's additions to the franchise are legendary having some of the biggest impacts on the mythology besides the original film. He helped usher in the Alien Queen along with expanding the long arm of Weyland-Yutani's greed and expendable employees (colonists/marines). We get too see off-world colonies done seriously and some of the best practical effects in movie history. The horror of Hadley's Hope has to be the greatest moment in sci-fi horror history because the siege on the colonists was never shot, you're imagination fills in the gory details. Not to mention creating some of the most memorable quotes and characters of the entire saga. It's a shame that Cameron will never direct another Alien film but there is always hope he can be involved in other ways, maybe as story consultant?