30 Fun Facts About “Alien 3”

The Alien franchise remains among the most iconic in all of sci-fi and horror.  However, things started to go downhill for the series after the very poorly received Alien 3 in 1992.  So in honor of its 30th anniversary, we wanted to take a look back at this arguably misunderstood movie that was ruined not by its creators, but by studio suits.  Here are 30 fun facts about Alien 3!

1. Ridley Scott was originally offered the chance to direct.  His plan was to do a prequel to explore the origin of the Xenomorphs.  When this was rejected, he passed.  Decades later, he would finally make that prequel with Prometheus.

2. Michael Biehn (Hicks in Aliens) admitted that he denied the film permission to use his likeness for a dummy of his character because was upset with how unceremoniously they were killing off his character.

3. David Twohy wrote a treatment of the script involving a ship carrying prisoners that crash-landed on a planet.  While it was ultimately rejected, he took this same concepted and developed it into Pitch Black, thus creating the iconic Vin Diesel character Riddick.

Alien 3
Thus, another franchise was born!

4. Charles S. Dutton is a former convict in real life, having pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 1967 following a heated knife fight, resulting in someone’s death.  He spent 9 years in prison, and after being paroled completed his education and went on to study acting.

5. Filming began in January 1991, with $7 million already spent in sets and no final script.

6. Many screenwriters contended to have their name credited since the film went through so many re-writes, in the end, Vincent Ward was credited with “story by” and “screenplay by” David Giler, Walter Hill, and Larry Ferguson.

7. Pete Postlethwaite’s character’s name is literally David Postlethwaite.

8. The iconic shot of the Xenomorph up close in Ripley’s face was rejected by the studio (who meddle quite a bit).  David Fincher disregarded their orders and shot it anyway, thus becoming the most recognizable visual from the movie.

Alien cover
It’s hard to imagine the movie without this visual…

9. During production, Sigourney Weaver sported the famously shaved head, but she reportedly wore a wig very often because her daughter Charlotte (who was two at the time) didn’t like the bald head on her mother.

10. Weaver agreed to shave her head without hesitation, joking that she would do it for more money (which they gave).

11. Cinematographer Jordan Cronenworth unfortunately had to be replaced after 4 days of shooting because his Parkinson’s Disease was affecting him.  Fincher fought to keep him, but was overruled by producers.

12. The production was so rampant with rewrites that entire scenes would be shot, just for them to get cut the next day.  No one bothered learning lines because they were being updated up until they were already on set filming.

13. At one point, production even had to shut down for three months, so the script could be completely re-written.

14. A sex scene between Ripley and Dr. Clemens (Charles Dance) was shot, but cut from the final movie.

Alien 14
The movie definitely didn’t need it, since their characters work better as platonic friends.

15. Shot mostly at Pinewood Studios in England.

16. While he does appear later as the original likeness of Bishop, Lance Henrikson was unable to play the android version for the scene in which Ripley activates him.  It was one the most detailed and advanced animatronics ever used in a movie.

17. The original Newt autopsy scene was incredibly graphic and gory.  Even the crew were repulsed by it, and thus it was significantly cut down.

18. Ripley’s reluctance to use a firearm came from Sigourney Weaver herself, who was a strong advocate for gun control, feeling that Ripley had used guns too much in the previous movies.

19. The post-production process was just as marred with conflict as shooting was.  The film took a year to edit, complete with extensive re-shoots.

20. During the editing process, the L.A. Riots of 1992 were occurring and some of the rioting got very close to the lab where David Fincher was editing.  He was so frustrated by the process, that he joke that he wished for them to burn the lab down, and the film with it.

21. The movie’s marketing campaign heavily implied that it took place on Earth (including a tagline “On Earth, everyone can hear you scream”), which disappointed many fans when it didn’t.

Alien 21
Either way, the location is one of the cooler parts of the movie.

22. Following the movie’s less than stellar reception, David Fincher feared that his directing career was over just as it began.  However, Sigourney Weaver made it very clear in interviews and public appearances that the studio meddled quite a bit and they were ultimately blamed for the movie’s failure.

23. David Fincher ultimately disowned the movie, despite it being his directorial debut. Fortunately, he would go on to achieve great acclaim a few years later with Se7en.

24. As a result of him disowning it, he didn’t appear in any of the commentaries for Alien 3, nor was he included in the “director introductions” on the Alien Quadrilogy DVD set.

25. There was a novelization released by author Alan Dean Foster, which went in a lot more detail and better explained some of the more confusing aspects of the plot.

26. Roger Ebert had previously given very positive reviews to Alien and Aliens.  However he gave Alien 3 two thumbs down, citing it as “dark, depressing, and grungy”.

27. Despite its poor reception, Alien 3 was nominated for an Oscar for Best Visual Effects (but lost to Death Becomes Her).

Alien 28
Granted, a lot of the non-practical, digital effects haven’t aged very well.

28. It was also nominated for a slew of Saturn Awards (Best Science Fiction Film, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Writing, Best Costumes, and Best Special Effects), but lost every single one of them.

29. Its budget ballooned to over $65 million (over triple was Aliens cost), but it remains the lowest grossing movie in the Alien franchise.

30. Alien 3 remains the lowest rated movie of the franchise on Rotten Tomatoes with only 43%.  However it is only 3rd lowest if you count the AVP movies, which rank at 21% and 12%

Which of these did you already know?  Which ones surprised you?  Let us know in the comments!

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