Trivia / Alien³

  • Creator Backlash:
    • David Fincher disowned Alien³ due to all the Executive Meddling he had to endure during the movie's production.
    • James Cameron criticized the sequel harshly, specifically citing what became of Bishop, Hicks, and Newt. Michael Biehn was reportedly so annoyed about his character's fate that he only allowed the use of his likeness in exchange for a hefty paycheck (so hefty, in fact, that it was more than his entire fee for Aliens).
      • Biehn later regretted his angry decision to deny them any chance to use his likeness - in hindsight saying it would have been a great chance to work with Fincher.
  • Development Hell: The tale of Alien³'s development is the stuff of industry legend, and a prime example of Executive Meddling in full force. A rotating lineup of directors who all got shunted aside by FOX, a lineup of writers working on screenplayers concurrently with no idea other writers were involved, delays, reshoots, disastrous test screenings, tensions between FOX and (then-newbie) director David Fincher, a "pay-or-play" deal between the studio and Sigourney Weaver, Fincher getting locked out of the editing room, executives and writers at odds as to how the story would play out, months spent building sets that had to be shoehorned into a completely different script...it all added to a giant mess in its development.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Zigzagged in case of Weaver. She initially agreed to shave her head for the filming. However, as the Troubled Production stretched on, reshoots were done months later, and Weaver refused to shave her head again, which meant spending some thousands of dollars more for a custom-made authentic-looking bald cap.
  • Executive Meddling: By the time David Fincher was officially signed on to direct, the film had already gone though a dozen or so different writers and directors, and almost two million dollars worth of sets that had been constructed. With the release date looming, the studio had Fincher begin filming without even a finished script in place, ordering him to essentially make up the plot of the film as he went along by piecing together parts of the other unfinished scripts and improvising the rest. The studio constantly demanded reshoots and rewrites throughout the films production, and often blocked Fincher from filming key scenes (some of which he filmed anyway and made it into the final cut). When it finally came around to editing, the studio ordered that radical edits and reshoots take place in order to shorten the film's runtime by 30 minutes, causing Fincher to become infuriated and walk off set. David Fincher has since ended up disowning the film because of his horrible experience working on the project.

    As a measure of how much it afflicted the film, no fewer than eight people attempted to claim credit for the screenplay during the WGA arbitration process, with a further four not bothering for various reasons. In particular, Rex Pickett, who wrote a significant portion of the shooting script, ended up being one of the ones not wanting credit largely due to how unpleasant the whole experience had been. This was so bad, even H. R. Giger - the original designer for the first Xenomorph - was shafted in favor of Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis' designs. This didn't stop Giger from faxing his designs to his client, David Fincher, after he disbanded from the project.
    • Notably, one of the Fox executives was apparently dead-set on this film revolving around prisoners in some way. Early script treatments were set on a prison barge or transport of some kind (causing tentative director Renny Harlin to quit the project, as it was just "more corridors, more guns, more aliens," and nothing new he could get excited about). When Vincent Ward started doing his story treatment, it was suggested to change the monks from his version into prisoners. And of course, the finished film takes place on a penal colony.
  • Fan Nickname: Alien3 tends to be jokingly referred to as Alien Cubed among the fandom due to the inexplicable superscript use of the number 3 in the movie's title.
  • Image Source: This film provides the page image for:
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Brian Glover, who played the Jerk Ass Superintendent Andrews, turned out to be such a friendly and approachable guy that David Fincher turned to him for advice when the movie's hellish production was getting him down.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Michael Biehn was paid almost as much as he'd received for Aliens - for a picture of him that appears briefly in the film's opening.
  • Old Shame:
    • David Fincher doesn't list Alien³ on his resume and refused to record any interviews or commentary for the Quadrilogy box set, due to lingering anger over the Executive Meddling during production.
    • From comments he made on the commentary and in some of the footage for the documentary on the Blu-Ray, Lance Henriksen isn't overly fond of the movie, either, finding it nihilistic, most of the characters despicable, and finding Ripley sleeping with Clemens to be out-of-character.
    • On the flip side, Michael Beihn's Old Shame is not being more accommodating of the film using his likeness. He jokes that "I was very stupid when I was younger" when, upon hearing that there was a dummy mockup of him with his chest exploded like he'd been host to alien, he replied "I don't care how much money you give me, that alien is not coming out of me." More seriously, he says that if he had known David Fincher would end up being David Fincher, he wouldn't have fought as hard to be paid for his photograph, instead currying favor with a brilliant director in hopes of future work.
  • One-Book Author: A minor (acting) example - this is the only film that Danielle Edmund (the girl who took over the "role" of Newt) ever starred in. She appears in a Freeze-Frame Bonus during the opening sequence.
  • The Other Darrin: Carrie Henn was too old to play Newt, so Danielle Edmund acted as a Fake Shemp for her in the opening titles. For the autopsy scene, a cast mould of Carrie Henn was made.
  • Playing Against Type: Charles Dance usually plays stern or intimidating authority types. Here he plays a bitter medic who's the Non-Action Guy of the bunch.
  • Reality Subtext: Charles S. Dutton (Dillon) is a real life former convict who cleaned himself up before getting into acting.
  • Troubled Production: One could probably do an entire semester of film school class on the problems Alien³ faced:
    • After the success of Aliens, 20th Century Fox was keen to get production of a third film moving immediately. William Gibson submitted a draft featuring Hicks and Bishop fighting biomechanical xenomorphs on a space station, but his draft was rejected and he declined further involvement. At this point, the studio didn't want Sigourney Weaver back, and scripts were written with this fact in mind. Eric Red was brought onboard, and penned a new script that had a spaceship discover the remains of the Sulaco crew (who were killed by the xenomorphs), before moving the action to a small town in an Earth-like biodome. Producers Walter Hill and David Giler disliked the script, and Red was ousted, with tentative director Renny Harlin also leaving soon afterwards. Next, David Twohy came onboard and wrote a new script centered around a prison planet. Hill and Giler liked the script, but this too was rejected.
    • By this point, nearly four years had passed since pre-production began. Vincent Ward was hired, and soon after, with Fox hiring Weaver back with a $4 million payday and a co-producer credit, Ward wrote a script with John Fasano where Ripley crashlands on a "wooden planet" filled with monks. At this point in production, 1/5 of the planned budget had already been spent, and Fox told Ward to rein in his plans (even prompting then-CEO Joe Roth to state "What the fuck is going on?" after hearing about Ward's plan to have Ripley be placed in a cryotube by "seven dwarves" in the finale). After butting heads with executives, Ward left the project.
    • A rotating series of writers came in to try and improve the script during this time. Greg Pruss was hired to rewite Fasano's "wooden planet" script, but left after butting heads with Ward. Fasano then returned to rewrite his script, but he too had a falling-out with Ward. Larry Ferguson was then brought in to rewrite the Fasano script, and Fox complained that the treatment was not favorable towards the Ripley character. Finally, producers Walter Hill and David Giler did an emergency rewrite that combined Twohy's prison script and Fasano's religious elements.
    • Assembling the cast had its own problems. The film is infamous for killing Newt and Hicks in the opening credits when the pods crash. Newt was something of a given, as the actress had aged too much to play her again and cryogenic suspension wouldn't give her the chance to age enough for a new actress. Hicks, however, was repeatedly shuffled between "main character" and "supporting" with each new draft before they decided to kill him off - Michael Biehn was so disgusted when he found out that he demanded to be paid as much for his image being onscreen for a few seconds as he had for filming all of Aliens.
    • And the reason Hicks kept shuffling back and forth was because the writers were told to work the film around Ripley's absence, as Sigourney Weaver was proving to be problematic. Between the two films, she had become a spokeswoman for gun-control group Handgun Control, and was offended by the amount of weaponry present in the script. Very shortly before filming, one of the producers managed to woo her back to the project. Amusingly, it was by telling her that Ripley would be bald.
    • David Fincher, who at that point only had a handful of music videos to his credit, was brought on board to helm the film. He was greeted with a long list of problems; a major set had already been constructed (a monastery set built before the setting was changed to a prison — but still kept, as a church inside the facility), the budget was running behind, the script was still incomplete and roles still hadn't been cast. After being informed by the executives that he had to include as many of the creative ideas the producers asked for, Fincher rushed into production to make up for lost time.
    • Cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth fell ill a few days into filming, necessitating a replacement in Alex Thomson.
    • Somewhere along the line, Hill and Giler (the latter of whom referred to Fincher as a "shoe salesman" during a conference call with the studio) fought with Fincher for 2 months over the script, and he complained about their budgetary restrictions. They and screenwriter Rex Pickett (who was also hired to rewrite the second half of the duo's script) in turn abandoned Fincher, and left him to finish the script himself. Fincher would end up rewriting lines and entire scenes on-the-fly during production, while trying to keep Fox (who were requesting daily updates from the set) at bay.
    • Fincher was stymied at every turn by executives who attempted to stop him from shooting important scenes (including Ripley confronting the xenomorph in Fury 161's sub-basement level), forcing the director to grab a camera and skeleton crew and film it himself.
    • Fox sent in a troubleshooter to investigate the spiraling production costs. A rough cut was screened for the crew, and reportedly made several audience members throw up due to a graphic autopsy scene. Hill and Giler were brought back onboard by the studio to give input, and it was deemed that the film had many issues that required significant reshoots (including a finale that was deemed too similar to Terminator 2: Judgment Day), and a pivotal sequence that had to be filmed (the death of the xenomorph!).
    • Fincher (depending on which source you believe) either spent the next year attempting to edit the film, or was locked out of the editing suite altogether by the studio. The reshoots reportedly pushed the budget to $65 million, and were done in Los Angeles with almost an entirely-new crew. This was reportedly the last straw for Fincher, who walked away for good at the end of the reshoots. Because of the breakneck pace of the reshoots, composer Elliot Goldenthal only had a single night to create a new piece of music for the reshot finale. The finished film was released in May 1992.
    • Even its post-production history was sordid. Fincher refused to come back and re-edit the film for the Alien Quadrilogy DVD set, as he was still bitter over the whole experience. Likewise, FOX executives severely cut down Charles Lauzirika's documentary on the film, "Wreckage and Rape", citing that it made the company look bad. It wasn't until 2010 that the uncut documentary (as "Wreckage and Rage") was released on the Alien Anthology Blu-Ray set.
  • Wag the Director: Sigourney Weaver pushed for the lack of weaponry in the film, as she was very anti-gun in real life. As a result, Ripley does not handle a single weapon in the whole film.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Alien 3 went through several writers, including William Gibson, Eric Red, David Twohy (who would later use some of the script he had written for Pitch Black) and Vincent Ward, before the final shooting script was thrown together using parts of all the previous drafts (mainly the latter three). Summaries of each can be found at The Other Wiki.
    • Gibson's script would have, ironically, focused on Hicks and Newt, while Ripley remained in a coma. They would join up with a USSR-analogue that wants to use the Xenomorph to fight the corporations, continuing on from the second film's Vietnam-allegory. For interested parties, the full version of Gibson's first draft can be found here. Gibson notes that the only part of his script that made it into the final film was his use of the Scannable Man trope.
    • At one point Ridley Scott was approached to direct but he turned it down. He had ideas of exploring the origins of the xenomorphs, which would later manifest in Prometheus.
    • The autopsy scene was a lot more detailed than appears in the finished film. A rough cut of the scene had so much gore, it made some crew members that had worked on it throw up and nearly slapped the movie with an NC-17 rating.
    • Noted sci-fi author Alan Dean Foster, who was hired to write the novelization (and had done the novelizations of the previous two films), disliked the story and tried to turn his adaptation into a Fix Fic where Newt survives. After Fox pushed back and told him to keep the story consistent with the movie, he declined to write any more novelizations for the franchise, and author A.C. Crispin wrote the novelization for Alien: Resurrection instead.
    • The role of Clemens was written for Richard E. Grant, in the hopes of reuniting him with his Withnail & I co-stars Paul McGann and Ralph Brown. Gabriel Byrne was also offered the role.
    • An idea incorporated into this film was that the chestburster takes some of the characteristics of its host — as the adult alien emerges from a dog, the VFX crew tried fitting a whippet with a bone costume but the result looked so comical they scrapped the idea, and the alien was eventually realized through a combination of CGI and marionettes.
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