Movies

Alien 3’s Original Director Reveals His Wild Idea For The Xenomorphs, And I Wish It Would’ve Happened

The Alien franchise has long been a cornerstone of sci-fi and horror movies, captivating audiences with its suspense, groundbreaking effects and unforgettable characters. Ridley Scott‘s 1979 film introduced the terrifying xenomorph and its relentless pursuit of the Nostromo’s crew. James Cameron’s 1986 sequel, Aliens, expanded the universe with an action-packed narrative featuring Colonial Marines battling swarms of the deadly creatures. These two films set a high bar, blending horror and action in a way that deeply resonated with fans, inspiring continued attempts to recreate their magic. While Alien 3 is often seen as a lesser entry, the original director had a wild idea for the xenomorphs that I wish had come to fruition.

That third installment, which was released in 1992, faced numerous production challenges and script rewrites, leading to a movie that many felt did not live up to the expectations set by its predecessors. It was directed by David Fincher, in his directorial debut, who famously clashed with the studio. The film took a darker, more introspective turn, focusing on themes of death and sacrifice within the confines of a prison planet. 

Despite its ambitious ideas, Alien 3 received mixed reviews and struggled to capture the same energy that made the first two films iconic. In a recent interview with /Film, Renny Harlin, the original director attached to the threequel, revealed his bold vision for the movie that never came to be — bringing the Xenomorphs to the third rock from the sun:

I was working on ‘Alien 3’ in ’89, which was before ‘Jurassic Park’ and all those movies. So the concept of having these creatures on Earth for the studio, it felt scary and unattainable. For me, it was the natural evolution. We’ve had the ‘Alien’ with the truck drivers in space, we’ve had ‘Aliens’ with the Marines in space, and where do we go next? Let’s bring the aliens on Earth and have them going through the cornfield. I had the poster already in my mind with the farmhouse and the cornfield in moonlight, and they are going through the cornfield. To this day, I think it would’ve been a ginormous hit movie because it would’ve been the first time anything like that was done. But for whatever reason, the studio felt like, ‘Ah, the audience won’t buy that.’

In a twist of Hollywood irony, Fox executives back in the day didn’t think audiences would buy into the idea of aliens wreaking havoc on Earth. Fast forward four years after the third flick hit theaters, and Independence Day became a box office juggernaut. Adding another layer of irony, FX has an Alien TV series in the works that will finally bring the xenomorphs to our home turf, coming full circle to Renny Harlin’s original concept. Reflecting on his departure from the project, the filmmaker shared: 

So, let’s put the aliens on a prison ship. A prison ship? How am I going to relate to a prison ship? But that’s ancient history. I’m not blaming anybody, but for those who don’t know, I worked for a year on ‘Alien 3,’ and I quit politely, respectfully, because I couldn’t stand the idea of, after Ridley Scott and Jim Cameron, coming up with a movie that is just not going to live up to what the audience is expecting and give them that experience. The key to me, just to say again about the ‘Alien’ movies, was that they have to be relatable. They might be in outer space, but the characters are you and I, in outer space, and that’s what makes them tick.

Production on the film was notoriously troubled, and David Fincher has discussed his dissatisfaction with the experience. Yet, the franchise continues to thrive and build on the sometimes confusing Alien timeline. In addition to the upcoming TV show, Fede Alvarez, known for the horror thrillers Don’t Breathe and Evil Dead remake, has directed Alien: Romulus. Set between the events of the first two films, this new installment is slated for the 2024 movie schedule, landing in theaters on  August 16. 

Despite the turmoil of Alien 3, Renny Harlin moved on to a successful career, directing hits like Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger and Deep Blue Sea. Nevertheless, one can’t help but wonder what might have been if Fox had embraced his vision back then. Still, thankfully, when the TV series hits, we fans may finally get to see xenomorphs stalking victims in cornfields, and I’m here for it. 

Renny Harlin’s latest work, The Strangers: Chapter 1, is now playing in a theater near you. Chapter 2 is expected to drop in the fall, and Chapter 3 will open sometime in 2025. 

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