Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Spoiler-ific Local News Report On 'Batman v. Superman' That Caused WB To Lauch A Lawsuit Watch: Spoiler-ific Local News Report On 'Batman v. Superman' That Caused WB To Lauch A Lawsuit Christopher Nolan Says 'Interstellar' Is About "What It Means To Be A Dad”; Plus Check Out New Pics Christopher Nolan Says 'Interstellar' Is About "What It Means To Be A Dad”; Plus Check Out New Pics Paul Schrader, Nicolas Winding Refn & Nicolas Cage Campaign Against Their Film 'Dying Of The Light' Paul Schrader, Nicolas Winding Refn & Nicolas Cage Campaign Against Their Film 'Dying Of The Light' WTF: Horror Hit 'Annabelle' Yanked From French Theaters Due To Rioting WTF: Horror Hit 'Annabelle' Yanked From French Theaters Due To Rioting Retrospective: The Films Of Paul Thomas Anderson Retrospective: The Films Of Paul Thomas Anderson WB Reveals Full DC Slate Through 2020, Including Two 'Justice League' Pics, 'Wonder Woman,' 'Green Lantern' & More WB Reveals Full DC Slate Through 2020, Including Two 'Justice League' Pics, 'Wonder Woman,' 'Green Lantern' & More Brad Bird Explains Why He Passed On Directing 'Star Wars: Episode 7' Brad Bird Explains Why He Passed On Directing 'Star Wars: Episode 7' Shia LaBeouf Cut His Own Face, Fought The Cast & Got A Tooth Pulled Making 'Fury' Shia LaBeouf Cut His Own Face, Fought The Cast & Got A Tooth Pulled Making 'Fury' Robert Downey Jr. To Join Chris Evans In ‘Captain America 3’ Which Will Help Launch A New Phase Of Marvel Robert Downey Jr. To Join Chris Evans In ‘Captain America 3’ Which Will Help Launch A New Phase Of Marvel BFI London Film Festival Review: Susanne Bier's Long-Delayed 'Serena' Starring Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper BFI London Film Festival Review: Susanne Bier's Long-Delayed 'Serena' Starring Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper Oscar Buzz: Who's Going To Challenge For Best Actress This Year? Oscar Buzz: Who's Going To Challenge For Best Actress This Year? Robert Downey Jr. Says Superhero Films Are Becoming “Old" And Showing "Signs Of Fraying Around The Edges” Robert Downey Jr. Says Superhero Films Are Becoming “Old" And Showing "Signs Of Fraying Around The Edges” Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 6 ‘Devil You Know’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 6 ‘Devil You Know’ Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

5 Things You Might Not Know About Ridley Scott's 'Alien'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 25, 2012 at 10:03AM

The success of "Star Wars" changed everything. While "2001" had been a giant hit a decade ago, most put it down to a fluke, but George Lucas' film suddenly proved that science fiction wasn't just for B-movies, but could be a licence to print money. Every studio in town were chasing the genre, but 20th Century Fox, who had distributed "Star Wars" had a head-start: they already had another space-set script in development, "Alien," by Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Walter Hill and David Giler. They swiftly attached new helmer Ridley Scott to the project, and production got underway in the summer of 1978.
5
Alien

The success of "Star Wars" changed everything. While "2001" had been a giant hit a decade ago, most put it down to a fluke, but George Lucas' film suddenly proved that science fiction wasn't just for B-movies, but could be a licence to print money. Every studio in town were chasing the genre, but 20th Century Fox, who had distributed "Star Wars" had a head-start: they already had another space-set script in development, "Alien," by Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Walter Hill and David Giler. They swiftly attached new helmer Ridley Scott to the project, and production got underway in the summer of 1978.

The result, released exactly two years after "Star Wars," on May 25th, 1979 (thirty-three years ago to the day) was an enduring classic, which serves as a high watermark of the both the sci-fi and horror genres, and launched Scott's career. Next week, the director will return to where it all started: the first screenings of "Prometheus," his semi prequel to the original, will take place, with the film hitting theaters around the world on June 1st, before following in the U.S. on June 8th. To mark the anniversary, and the imminent arrival of "Prometheus," we've gathered up five things you might not know about Scott's sci-fi classic. Check them out below.

Alien Sigourney Weaver
1. The film came into being thanks to a beach ball.
Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon (who passed away in December 2009) had started out in special effects, co-writing John Carpenter's existential sci-fi comedy debut "Dark Star." In that film, the alien creature (a mascot adopted by the ship's crew, rather than an antagonist) was a spray-painted beach ball, but O'Bannon wanted to come up with something revolving around a realistic, terrifying extraterrestrial creature. Not long after, he was contacted by writer Ronald Shusett, who wanted to work together on an adaptation of Philip K Dick's "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" (which would eventually become "Total Recall"), but the pair agreed to work on O'Bannon's idea first, starting off from an uncompleted script called "Memory," which began with astronauts awakening from a long journey. After a small delay when O'Bannon was hired for the effects on Alejandro Jodorowsky's aborted version of "Dune," the two bashed out a script, initially called "Star Beast," but soon retitled "Alien." It was minimalist stuff -- they deliberately wrote generic, interchangeable human characters, focusing more of their time on the creature -- but it proved effective. The duo were on the verge of selling the film to Roger Corman's company when Walter Hill's shingle Brandywine, who had a deal at 20th Century Fox, expressed an interest. Hill, and partner David Giler, would do substantial rewrites on the film, but it was only after "Star Wars" proved to be a mammoth success that the film got the greenlight from the studio: despite Fox having released Lucas' film, "Alien" was the only science-fiction script that the company had in the works.

Alien
2. Robert Aldrich, Peter Yates and Jack Clayton were all in the running to direct before Ridley Scott.
Initially, the studio wanted the film in the hands of a reliable veteran, and people like Peter Yates ("Bullitt," "The Deep," "The Friends Of Eddie Coyle"), Jack Clayton ("Room at the Top," "The Innocents") and Robert Aldrich ("Kiss Me Deadly," "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane," "The Dirty Dozen") were all considered. Aldrich in particular nearly got the gig, but when Hill and Giler met with him, it was clear that the veteran helmer was treating it as a job-for-hire: when they asked him what he thought the facehugger should look like, Aldrich responded "We'll put some entrails on the guy's face. It's not as if anyone's going to remember that critter once they've left the theater." Hill considered directing the film himself, but ended up making "The Warriors" around the same time, while O'Bannon pushed heavily for the job himself. But in the end, the studios and producers were impressed by "The Duellists," the debut of a young British commercials director named Ridley Scott. Scott was trying to make another historical epic, "Tristan & Isolde," at Paramount, but couldn't get a greenlight, and jumped at the chance when it came along. From the first meeting, it was clear that Scott was the man they needed -- he had no intention of treating it as a knock-off B-movie, as Aldrich had been. Indeed Fox executives were so impressed by Scott's presentation of storyboards and designs that they doubled the budget of the film, from $4 million to over $8 million.

This article is related to: 5 Things You Might Not Know About..., Ridley Scott, Prometheus, Sigourney Weaver, Features, On This Day In Movie History, Alien


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates