AHC: Save Alien 3 (and the franchise)

...I haven't seen that particular film (Last Man Standing), so why do you say that like it's a bad thing? I'd think of the possibility as a better "Supernova" that would butterfly the OTL mess altogether...though I think John Milius is the only necessary script doctor, as good as Tarantino and Sayles are...
Hill's films are dry, with little dialogue and people have roles rather than personalities (cf "The Driver"): it's very staring into the middle-distance with a good woman at your side. Unrestrained, it can easily become joyless. Even with Milius on board (who despite being an insane survivalist does have a sense of fun), this would go horribly wrong. Milius is good with structure (he advised Spielberg to bookend SPR with the elder Ryan scenes in the graveyard) and memorable monologues (he did the Indianapolis speech in Jaws, I think), but neither of them have a track record for writing dialogue that humans would say IRL. Sayles would humanise the dialogue. Tarantino would not find a place for pop-culture references, but his gift for structure would help the film develop rhythm, which I think Hill lacks.

I like that the space monks actually stick around without overshadowing Ripley or being too out of place, and the script changes seems fairly plausible
Thank you. Very little is changed: Goldsmith instead of Horner, Weaver and Biehn in place from day one, Ward's script is kept. It's just that they're given more time and less pressure to solve the problems as they come up and not create avoidable problems instead

Incidentally, the retention of monks instead of prisoners butterflies away the need to explain the celibacy vow and discomfort with women, since with monks that doesn't need to be pointed out. Less exposition on unnecessaries, more time for the necessaries...

...And hopefully this time, Scott gets a better screenwriter to answer the question. ;)
The horror. The horror. Paul Verhoeven's Alien3 (1997)

And now the insanity. Paul Verhoeven's Alien3 (1997)...:eek::eek::eek:

Walter Hill and David Giler wait for Weaver to be attracted by the artistic value of the cheque. Meanwhile, Paul Verhoeven and Joe Esterhas argue over something inconsequential, Esterhas goes off to do "Showgirls" with somebody else, is eaten by a bear, and is never heard of again....

Following "Jurassic Park" (1993) and rushes of "Toy Story" (1995), the studios start getting seriously interested in computer animation. But it's still seen as the labour-intensive province of big effects houses like Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic or Cameron's Digital Domain, and expensive software such as Softimage running on Silicon Graphics workstations.

But mid-range effects houses like Peter Jackson's Weta and Ron Thornton's Foundation Imaging start to show that by networking affordable desktops, applying simple rules-based animation and using cheaper software like LightWave, convincing crowds of bugs can be generated cheaply.

The logical director would be Spielberg, but Spielberg is already committed to the Jurassic Park sequel "The Lost World" and ILM are cranking up for it. Hill and Giler, looking around for a director with a sci-fi track record, chance upon Verhoeven (who did "Robocop" and "Total Recall"). Verhoeven, mulling over a Edward Neumeier screenplay for "Starship Troopers", sees a way to explore the same themes on a bigger canvas without paying royalties[1]and signs up. Phil Tippett, whose puppetted dinosaurs were discarded in favour of CGI dinosaurs in the original Jurassic Park, has converted to CGI fast in the interim and, seeing the chance to compete with the Jurrasic Park sequel, signs up too.

Preproduction starts in fall 1995 and, following difficulty getting the software off the ground, release is delayed to Summer 1997. Biehn, Weaver, Giler, Hill, Neumeier and Verhoeven are on board. It's a very troubled shoot: Hill and Verhoeven just don't get on, Biehn and Verhoeven have a fist-fight, and John Milius is brought in as peacemaker. The initial cut without effects is shown to the suits and is greeted with derision[2]. Verhoven's wish to make it a WWII allegory[3] is frantically slapped down, and subtly recast into a "is exterminating animals bad?" allegory instead. But the bad publicity over the arguments is overshadowed by the fuss over Cameron's way over budget "Titanic" (being made at the same time) and the rushes from Tippett's effects house are good. Very good in fact.

Finally the film comes together and is released in Summer 1997. Analysts pooh-pooh the chances of Verhoeven's Alien3 against Spielberg's Jurassic Park 2, but it becomes apparent that Spielberg has miscalculated: "Jurassic Park 2" has the same problems it had IOTL (namely, script flaws, and the San Diego finale belongs to another film). Plus Verhoeven has delivered what everybody wants: a film made on budget, on time, and with many, many big bug hunts and hordes of CGI xenomorphs battling the exoskeleton-wearing Space Marines - "Aliens 2", in other words. The crowd goes wild, and a throwaway line ("Bugs. Lots of Bugs") is gleefully repeated.

The film grosses $250million domestic and $350million foreign[4], just beating out "Men In Black" to become the second-biggest grossing film of 1997 (Titanic easily remains number 1) and a sequel is immediately greenlit...

The technology did exist for this at the time: render farms had started to take off, software was getting cheaper. All that was needed was for some programmers to pre-empt the creation of MASSIVE (Jackson's Weta software) by about two years. This would create a rules-based simple animation program that could do for Aliens what Verhoeven did for bugs in "Starship Troopers" (which this film butterflies away), and what Jackson did do for Orcs in 2001 with "Fellowship of the Ring". The CGI in "Jurassic Park 2" is good but dull, and Tippett would be slightly ahead of the curve: each individual CGI alien is not animated as well as each individual CGI dinosaur, but Spielberg/ILM only has a maximum of twenty dinosaurs on the screen at any one time, but Tippett has over ten thousand aliens on screen at one point.

The director doesn't have to be Verhoeven, who in some ways is a bad choice: he is nuts, the cast wouldn't be comfortable with him and his Krazy Dutch Svwinger Wayz. But he would be available, can handle special effects, and is reasonably disciplined. I think he's also got the sense to not interfere with Tippett's special effects.

So there you go. An Alien3 that beats Jurassic Park 2.

[1] This same trick was used to prevent IOTL money being paid to Arthur C Clark for the novel "Hammer of God" after "Deep Impact" was made
[2] Just as an initial cut of Star Wars without the SFX was seen as ridiculous
[3] Verhoeven was a child in Nazi-occupied Holland and "Starship Troopers" takes on a whole new perspective when you realise the humans are the bad guys...
[4] slightly more than Jurassic Park 2 IOTL
OK, that is pretty damn cool; but where do Ripley and co fit in?
Good question, and I'm not entirely sure: if we take it as being "Starship Troopers" in the Alienverse, then Weaver and Biehn's characters will have similar arcs to Denise Richards and Casper Van Dien's characters. There's also room for Lance Henriksen's Bishop to undergo the same arc as Neil Patrick Harris's character....which would work, I think.

So. Aliens nuked. Klendathu pacified. Biehn and Ripley alive at the end. Bishop vivisecting xenomorphs. Would you like to know more...:)
Go small-and-good or big-and-mad

Wow, the Paul Verhoeven version of Alien^3 sounds pretty interesting. Never thought I'd type those words. :eek:
Thank you. I've tried to illustrate two approaches to saving the franchise.

Of the two approaches, I prefer the first: you'd end up with three films, each as the exemplar in its class, and that's no bad legacy.

It doesn't have to be those directors: for the first approach you could have

  • Guillermo del Toro's Alien3 (1995) (which unfortunately butterflies away "Cronos" and "Mimic")
  • Ridley Scott's Alien3 (1996) (which thankfully butterflies away "White Squall" and - hopefully - "GI Jane"). The POD in this case would be the collapse of funding for "1492", which leaves Ridley enormously in debt and suddenly far less fussy.

For the second approach you could have

  • James Cameron's Alien3 (1997) (which butterflies away "Titanic"). But I think Cameron is such a control freak he'd miss out on the possibility of rules-based massive multicharacter animation.

Other approaches would be to make it just action-adventure, so you'd have Martin Campbell's Alien3 (1995) or John Woo's Alien3 (1997) (which butterfly away "Goldeneye" or "Face/Off" respectively), but I think they'd just be average and not really franchise saving. And besides, I like "Goldeneye" and "Face/Off"...:)