- Following The Terminator, James Cameron directed Aliens.
- The film was a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic Alien.
- Cameron has recently confirmed the famed story of how he pitched the film to the studio.
While I ceaselessly dunk on Avatar on this here wonderful website, that’s about the only negative thing I have to say about James Cameron, as I’m fully aware of the legendary filmmaker’s seismic impact on the history of American cinema, particularly when it comes to blockbusters.
From The Terminator to Titanic, from The Abyss to Terminator 2 to True Lies, there’s simply no dying the ways in which Cameron has helped shape the modern landscape of modern movie-making. Then, of course, there’s also Aliens, Cameron’s excellent, and arguably superior sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi classic Alien. Similar to Terminator 2, Aliens is the rare case in which the follow-up film added to and improved the legacy of the franchise overall.
Cameron obviously knew that Aliens was going to be a stone-cold banger, as the iconic director recently confirmed a long-running story about how he pitched the film to 20th Century Fox: he simply wrote “Alien” on a chalkboard and followed it up with a dollar sign, creating the word ALIEN$. As Shakespeare once famously said, “brevity is the soul of wit” and Cameron proved that notion in this moment.
“Yeah, it’s true. It just popped into my mind in the moment,” Cameron confirmed to CinemaBlend while promoting his new book Tech Noir: The Art of James Cameron.
“It was actually on the back of a script, or some kind of presentation document. It might’ve been the treatment. I can’t remember. I was sitting with the three producers, and we were in the office of the then-head of 20th Century Fox. And I said, ‘Guys, I got an idea for the title. And it goes like this.’ And I wrote, ‘Alien’ in large block letters. And I put an S on the end. I showed it to them. I said, ‘I want to call it Aliens, because we’re not dealing with one. Now we’re dealing with an army, and that’s the big distinction. And it’s very simple and very graphic.’”
“And I said, ‘But here’s what it’s going to translate to.’ And then I drew the two lines through it to make it a dollar sign. And that was my pitch. And apparently it worked! Because they went with the title. They never questioned it.”
James Cameron, folks: master filmmaker and genius marketer.