The Unmade Alien Movies You Never Got To See


We all love the ‘Alien’ movies, but they’re the result of several scripts and multiple rewrites, which has inevitably meant some amazing – and not so amazing – ideas have fallen by the wayside. The following nine ‘Alien’ movies never made it to cinemas and in most cases never made it off the page, but that doesn’t stop them being awesome and/or outrageous…

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'Alien' – with a much bleaker ending

Ridley Scott’s original ‘Alien’ movie, made in 1979, is pretty much the perfect sci-fi – but had Scott had his way, the ending would have been radically different to the one we got. Sir Ridley (see below) claims that he originally wanted ‘Alien’ to end with the creature biting off Ripley’s head before sitting down in the escape shuttle’s chair to transmit a message to Earth… in Ripley’s voice. Mercifully, Fox executives stepped in and made Scott see sense, ensuring several sequels and the birth of a franchise. Phew! Close one…


'Aliens' – James Cameron's first draft

Switching gears from survival horror to all-out action epic, James Cameron’s successor to ‘Alien’ is arguably one of the greatest sequels ever made. Cameron’s original vision for ‘Aliens’ survived almost entirely – in fact, in an unprecedented move, Fox waited for him to finish another movie, ‘The Terminator’, before returning to finish his script – but there are several plot points that were erased when a second draft was turned in. Missing scenes include: a coccooned Burke; more time with Newt’s family; Ripley calling the facehugger “a walking sex organ”; tiny albino warrior aliens in the egg chamber; Newt formally requesting to be Ripley’s daughter; loads more Colonial Marine banter; and, er a shower scene.

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'Alien3' – but with an alien virus

The making of ‘Alien3’ is one of the most tortured productions in cinematic history, with no less than six different screenplays turned in. Novelist William Gibson took the first crack at the third ‘Alien’ movie, dispensing with Ripley – she spends most of the movie in a coma. Instead, Hicks (Michael Biehn) is the lead, supported by a teenage Newt (Carrie Henn), fighting Xenomorphs on a new space station that have been genetically modified with some of the milky goo from android Bishop’s innards. Notably, in Gibson’s draft, humans could be contaminated and infected by an airborne virus, which would see them ‘become’ aliens themselves, ultimately tearing the flesh from their bodies. Fox didn’t fancy it.

'Alien3' – but with completely new characters and set in a dome

The second attempt at cracking ‘Alien3’ came from writer Eric Red, and some of his ideas eventually made it to the screen – including the major development of killing off the characters of ‘Aliens’ before the movie has even got started. Ripley, Hicks and Newt are all dead at the beginning of Red’s draft, with a new character named Sam Smith – complete with cybernetic arm – leading the charge against the aliens on a space station that housed a small-town American settlement called ‘North Star’ underneath a giant glass dome. It’s an intensely gory take on the series (two characters are eviscerated graphically while having sex), returning the franchise to its horror roots. But still Fox weren’t happy.


'Alien3' – that was a lot like Pitch Black

The third writer to take a swing at ‘Alien3’ was David Twohy, who wound up incorporating many of his discarded ideas in his own sci-fi, ‘Pitch Black’, in 2000. Twohy’s script also bafflingly dispenses with Ripley – reminder: Sigourney Weaver is awesome and was nominated for an Oscar for ‘Aliens’ – to concentrate on a new set of characters on a prison planet-slash-ore refinery, who discover a Facehugger embedded deep within the rock. As you might have guessed, elements from Twohy’s screenplay ended up being used (at least in part) in the final draft of ‘Alien3’, including the concept of the prison planet space station and criminal inmates (se above). But were the studio happy? Were they Fox. Another draft!

'Alien3' – but on a wooden planet

Finally, the return of Ripley! The fourth draft of ‘Alien3’ is by far the most interesting and even got the green-light, although by the time Fox had changed most of the ideas and concepts, screenwriter Vincent Ward left the project. It’s a shame, because Ward’s ‘Alien’ world was spectacular: it was set on a man-made wooden planet, crafted by monks who had rejected a life of technology. Ripley crash-lands the Sulaco on the planet, Arceon, and is considered a heretic by the all-made populace of the planet for bringing the evil of the Xenomorph with her. After production had already started, Fox did an about turn and ditched the wooden planet idea (sets had already been built), merging the idea with Twohy’s prison planet concept. This version eventually became the film that made it to cinemas, after two further rewrites from Walter Hill and producer David Giler.

'Alien: Resurrection' – Joss Whedon's original version

Whedon has made public his dissatisfaction with the ‘Alien: Resurrection’ that we saw in cinemas and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Whedon’s first draft was slightly more tongue-in-cheek and playful, but the tone became more mature when Jeunet was brought on board. Originally, Newt was the character who was cloned, not Ripley (that changed when Weaver signed on for $11m to reprise the role), and the final battle took place on Earth. Whedon wrote five different endings, including finales set in a hospital maternity ward, in a junkyard, on a cliffside, in a desert and in a snowy forest. The ‘Newborn’ was originally four-legged, with red veins on its head, and had pincers which held its prey still as it drained their lifeforce.

James Cameron’s ‘Alien 5’

Cameron revealed in a Reddit AMA that he was poised to make a return to the ‘Alien’ universe after ‘Resurrection’ - but ‘Aliens Vs Predator’ put paid to that. Says the director: “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 then I lost interest in doing an ‘Alien’ film.” Of course, crossovers and shared universes are all the rage these days, but he didn’t know that then.


'Prometheus' – with added religious overtones

Titled ‘Alien: Engineers’, this draft would eventually be rewritten to become ‘Alien’ sidequel ‘Prometheus’ by Damon Lindelof, who would wind up taking all the flak for the lack of answers he provided à la ‘Lost’. When his draft leaked, however, Spaihts was credited with making an interesting and thought-provoking tale that never made it to screens. A true ‘Alien’ prequel, it examined the concept of the Xenomorphs as biological weapons created by a master race; Android David was more overtly villainous; scientist Shaw (here called Jocelyn Watts) was less religious. More pertinently, however, was the suggestion that Jesus was an Engineer (see above), and that Xenomorphs were created to punish humanity for crucifying him. 

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Photos: Rex Features/20th Century fox