Alien 3

Date Released: 22nd May 1992
Directed By:
David Fincher
Written By:
David Giler, Walter Hill…
Certificate:
R
Tagline:
The bitch is back.
Length:
114 Minutes (145 Mins Special Edition)
Budget:
$50M

Alien 3 Poster Alien 3

Cast

  • Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
  • Charles S. Dutton as Dillon
  • Charles Dance as Jonathan Clemens
  • Brian Glover as Harold Andrews
  • Ralph Brown as Aaron
  • Paul McGann as Golic
  • Danny Webb as Morse
  • Lance Henriksen as Bishop II
  • Pete Postlethwaite as David
  • Holt McCallany as Junior
  • Peter Guinness as Gregor

Storyline

Directed by David Fincher, Alien 3 was the least successful of the Alien series in cinemas. Just before the queen alien was sucked into space in Aliens, she managed to lay an egg on the Sulaco and while Ripley and the other survivors are on the way back to Earth, the facehugger tries to attack the hibernating passengers. After the ship receives a lot of damage by the facehugger, the crew are released into an Emergency Escape Vehicle. The vehicle crash lands on a planet populated by prisoners. Ripley is the only survivor of her crew but the facehugger was also on the vehicle and survived. Ripley awakens and soon figures out that the facehugger managed to get to her. As she works together with the prisoners and the people in charge, Ripley must try to kill the Alien before it kills anybody else.

Origins

20th Century Fox originally wanted Brandywine Productions to create two more Alien sequels. Producers David Giler and Walter Hill came up with a two-part story where Weyland-Yutani who were facing off against a faction of humans whose ideology has forced them to live outside of society. Sigourney Weaver’s character, Ripley, was only going to make a cameo appearance while the lead role was going to be given to Michael Biehn’s character Corporal Hicks. The fourth Alien film was going to see Ripley having an epic battle with the alien creatures that were being created by this faction. Sigourney Weaver liked the Cold War similarities and agreed to the smaller role. She didn’t like the changes the studio made to Aliens such as removing scenes of Ripley’s backstory. Fox were hesitant about the project but agreed to finance the development. They asked Walter Hill and David Giler to try and convince Ridley Scott to direct Alien 3 and that both films are shot back to back. Ridley Scott was interested in the project but at the time, he was extremely busy working on three other movies.

alien3-01 Alien 3

Then in September 1987, the producers asked author William Gibson to write a script for Alien 3 which he agreed to. A treatment was written but by that point, Sigourney Weaver didn’t want any kind of role and the story ended up being about Hicks and Bishop. The script can be found online but according to Gibson, it’s 30 pages shorter than the final version he wrote.  The story continues after Aliens when the Sulaco drifts into an area of space controlled by “Union of Progressive Peoples”. The people board the ship and get attacked by a Facehugger hiding in Bishop’s body. They kill the Facehugger and take Bishop with them. The Sulaco arrives at Anchorpoint and Ripley slips into a coma. Hicks investigates Weyland Yutani and find out they are creating aliens. The U.P.P. faction repair Bishop and return him to Anchorpoint. The U.P.P. stations and Anchorpoint are soon overrun with aliens and Hicks must team up with the survivors to kill them all. The film ends with Bishop telling Hicks that they must track the aliens to their source and destroy them. The script was very action-orientated with 8 major battles with the aliens. There were some changes to the aliens. Chestbursters would emerge from hosts as usual but they would turn into “bigger, meaner, faster” creatures. The aliens are also shown to give off some kind of airborne virus and anybody who is exposed to it, essentially transforms into an alien creature. The producers liked aspects of Gibson’s script but were ultimately unhappy with it overall and asked Gibson and director Renny Harlin to do rewrites. Gibson declined saying that he didn’t have time and that the producers were dragging the process out.

alien3-02 Alien 3

The next script was written by Eric Red, writer of The Hitcher and Near Dark. The script opens when a team of marines enter the Sulaco and find out that the previous squad of marines had been killed by the aliens. The story took place in a small town in a bio-dome in space and used the idea of the aliens turning humans into cocoons. The story ends with a final battle with the remaining survivors in the town facing waves of aliens. The script had a lot more horror than the previous films and it was the first Alien script to feature a mixed Human-Alien hybrid creature. It also borrows the idea of an airborne virus from Gibson’s script, infecting mosquitoes, cattle, dogs and chickens but this time, it infects technology too, turning the space station into a giant alien. After director Renny Harlin read the script, he abandoned the project and directed Die Hard 2 instead. Eric Red was fired not long after that and producers David Giler and Walter Hill abandoned the project for two sequels. In a 2010 interview, Eric Red said he disowns the script, calling the project rushed with too much interference from outsiders.

alien3-03 Alien 3

Writer David Twohy, who is best known for his work on the Pitch Black series, wrote the next script. The story included a prison planet and the people there were conducting experiments with the aliens for weapon research. Inmates on death row were mock-executed in a gas chamber but instead they were used in the alien experiments. The screenplay had a lot of similarities to what was in Alien Resurrection including various failed clone experiments and the idea of a newborn creature known as the newbreed. Lots of people were sucked into space in a similar vein to the Newborn in Alien Resurrection. There were also lots of different alien types including Rogue Alien, Spike Alien, and a Chameleon Alien. When new director Vincent Ward was hired, he wasn’t interested in Twohy’s script and wanted to write his own. Fox president Joe Roth also did not like the idea of Ripley being removed as she was at the centre of the franchise. They then contacted Sigourney Weaver and paid her $5 million plus a share of the box office to star in Alien 3.

Ox Alien 3

Vincent Ward and co-writer John Fasano wrote a story where Ripley’s E.E.V. crashed on a monastery-like satellite which was mostly made out of wood. The story begins with a monk seeing Ripley’s EEV crashing and believes it is a good omen. The alien creature makes its presence known and the monks believe this is a religious trial. They also wonder if their trial is caused by sexual temptation as Ripley is the only woman there, so they lock her in a sewer ignoring her advice about the alien. The believed the creature is the Devil. The screenplay included scenes set in different locations around the wooden planet, ranging from wheat fields, to furnaces and a glass works. A lot of Ward’s story was actually used in the final film… it just wasn’t a wooden planet containing monks and Ward thought the best elements in his script were not used in the film. Sigourney Weaver called Ward’s script “very original and arresting”.

alien3-05 Alien 3

Before filming was due start on Ward’s script, producers Walter Hill and David Giler took over the script, combining Vincent’s Ward’s script with Twohy’s prison planet story. Sigourney Weaver also had had a clause written into her contract stating the final draft should be written by Hill and Giler. Director David Fincher then did some work on the script with author Rex Pickett and revised most of the work done by the previous writers, despite the producers writing the final draft.

Production

Filming for Alien 3 started January 14, 1991 at Pinewood Studios in England. Most scenes were shot there but some shots of the planet’s exterior were shot at Blyth Power Station in Northumberland, UK. Director David Fincher wanted the alien to be more of puma or a beast instead of the upright creature of Giger’s alien in the original film. Producer Gordon Carroll officially asked H.R. Giger to work as a designer on Alien 3 in July 1990. Shortly after that, director David Fincher and producer Gordon Carroll visited Giger in Zurich to discuss his contract. Fincher didn’t have a final script but Giger was asked to reinvent the alien creature for the movie and received the chance to correct the ‘problems’ with the alien design in James Cameron’s sequel. Giger was obviously very enthusiastic about the project.

Ripley Sigourney Weaver Alien 3

Giger was originally committed to the following designs: an aquatic facehugger, a chestburster, alien skin and a four-legged version of the adult alien. The adult alien was a fast-moving and graceful predator that David Fincher compared to a puma. Giger removed the large pipes from the alien’s back, and then created a complex new head design with a translucent skull. He designed a conical tongue covered with barbed hooks that would rip into and tear apart a victim. Lion-like claws also were incorporated between the creature’s fingers, making the alien more cat-like. Giger also designed a new ‘Super’ facehugger which was based on an old design. In an early version of the script, the facehugger was swimming so he visualized how it could move – its fingers would retract so that it would crawl just under the water’s surface. Giger faxed sketches, plans and photos of models to Pinewood on a daily basis, and Fincher faxed his comments in return.

Stan Winston’s company was approached to do the effects on Alien 3 but was unavailable at the time so he suggested Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis, who use to work for Winston and just formed their own company Amalgamated Dynamics (A.D.I.). A.D.I. told Giger over the telephone that they had their own ideas as far as the alien design was concerned and Giger was confused by this and believed there was only one interpretation and that was his own designs for the creature. Giger’s involvement with the production lasted just one month. Once all of Giger’s designs were submitted, the production severed contact. Despite this, Giger continued to fax ideas to Fincher because of his enthusiasm for the project. Giger also made full-scale drawings, a short reference film and, at his own cost, had an alien on a one-to-one scale built in the basement of his Zurich house to better study the proportions and be able to draw more accurate plans. He offered the sculpture to the studio for just the cost of the mold but they declined. He found out later that ADI had been contracted for the design of the creature as well as the execution. A.D.I. had wanted to do their own version of the alien and Giger felt they didn’t appreciate his work. He believed the studio felt that A.D.I.’s ideas were better suited to the screenplay than his own.

alien3-07 Alien 3

The alien creature was portrayed by Tom Woodruff in a suit as well as a rod puppet against bluescreen. The costume was re-designed from Aliens so that the actor could walk on all fours. The crew originally thought of using stop-motion animation but thought that it wouldn’t be very realistic so a 1/3 scale rod-puppet was chosen. It was 40” long and made from foam rubber for flexibility. A rod-puppet made it possible for the creature to move across any surface quite quickly and be shot from any angle. Laine Liska was the puppeteer supervisor and used a new process called Mo-Motion to control and film the puppet at the same time with a motion control camera. Up to 6 people were in charge of bringing the rod-puppet to life and large empty sets were created so the puppeteers had a lot of freedom to move the puppet. In the scene where the alien is first born, A.D.I. made a full-scale puppet of the ‘Bambi Burster’ which was used in-camera. Director David Fincher suggested using a whippet dressed in an alien costume but it never looked realistic so a puppet was chosen. The scene of it running away was cut out of the theatrical cut but was later reinserted into the assembly cut. Due to the limitations of compositing, it was really difficult to remove the puppeteers from the shot so no more scenes were shot using this method.

A 3.5 foot miniature was created for the E.E.V. on the planet’s surface and was placed against a blue screen and composited onto a matte painting. In the scene where the E.E.V. is moved by a crane, a video of the actors was projected onto cardboard and then composited into the scene against a matte painting.

Post-Production

Despite popular belief, there is very little CGI in the film. The main CGI work was the alien head cracking when it comes out of the molten lead. Other elements including shadows cast from the rod-puppet and debris in the sky in the exterior shots of the planet. The score was composed by Elliot Goldenthal and he and Fincher spent a year creating the music which was based around the atmosphere of Alien 3. The score was actually created during the 1992 Los Angeles riots which Goldenthal said contributed to its dark nature. At some during the editing process, David Fincher walked out on production, citing constant studio interference. Each producer had a particular vision in mind of what Alien 3 should be and Fincher had to please everybody. In the end, editor Terry Rawlings had to put it together himself.

Golic Alien 3

Box Office

Alien 3 was released in the U.S. on May 22, 1992, opening at 2,227 cinemas and debuted at number two at the box office with a weekend gross of $23.1 million. It’s domestic total was $55.4  million while it grossed $104.3 million overseas while its worldwide total was $159.7 million. It’s the second-highest grossing Alien film.

Reception

Alien 3 generally received mixed reviews from critics when it was released and still does polarize quite a lot of reviewers even today. It currently holds a Rotten rating of 42% on RottenTomatoes based on 43 reviews. It has become somewhat of a cult classic among fans. Director of Aliens, James Cameron, said he didn’t like the fact that Alien 3 killed off Bishop, Newt and Corporal Hicks. Director David Fincher disowns the movie after the constant studio interference he encountered while filming. He has continually refused to have any kind of participation in the various featurettes on the 2003 Alien Quadrilogy and 2010 Alien Anthology DVD/Blu-Ray sets. 20th Century Fox edited the Alien 3 Making Of documentary on the Quadrilogy to remove scenes of Fincher showing his frustration at the studio. The featurettes were released uncut in the Alien Anthology. Alien 3’s visual effects were nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to Death Becomes Her.

Ripley Sigourney Weaver Alien 3

Media Releases

Alien 3 was first released on VHS and Laserdisc in the 90s and it was released in The Alien Trilogy boxset containing the first three Alien films which included the deleted scenes from the Laserdisc version. After Alien Resurrection was released, a new VHS set called The Alien Saga was released containing the first three films, and then another one was released including all four films. Alien 3 was first released on DVD 1999 as a standalone title and as part of the Alien Legacy set which also included a VHS edition. The only features it had were trailers and a 20-minute behind-the-scenes feature. The Alien Quadrilogy was released in 2003 and Alien 3 was available as part of that set or as a two-disc Special Edition. It included two cuts of the film: the theatrical cut and a new assembly cut which was over 30 minutes longer and produced by Charles De Lauzirika. The extras included a commentary from various crew members, and lots of behind-the-scenes featurettes and material. Alien 3 was released on Blu-Ray in 2010 as part of the Alien Anthology set and it included all the features from the Quadrilogy set as well as a few more features.

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Assembly Cut

Full Article: Alien 3 Deleted Scenes

The Alien 3 assembly cut included new story elements, extended scenes and deleted footage. Director David Fincher declined to have any input in the assembly cut so it was put together by Charles De Lauzirika and his team using Fincher’s original production notes as a guide. The first major change was that the alien emerges from an ox instead of a dog and the prisoners discover a dead facehugger. There’s an extended sequence with the prisoners trapping the alien but a deranged Golic frees the creature. The queen chestburster also doesn’t burst out of Ripley when she falls into the furnace. In the 2003 Quadrilogy release, some of the dialogue is of poor quality due to ADR not taking place for the deleted footage. In the 2010 Anthology release, they got the original actors back to re-record the dialogue so it sounds clearer.

Ripley Sigourney Weaver Alien 3

Merchandise 

A novelization of Alien 3 was released by author Alan Dean Foster who had written ones for Alien and Aliens. it included many scenes cut from the final film but could be later found in the assembly cut. Foster wanted the novelization’s script to differ greatly from the film but producer Walter Hill said he shouldn’t alter the storyline. Foster was left disappointed with his experiences on this novelization so he declined to do the Alien Resurrection version. Dark Horse also released a 3-issue comic book adaptation of the film and video games were released for multiple platforms. Alien 3 was developed by Probe Entertainment and released in 1993 for Amiga, Commodore 64, NES, SNES, Sega Master System and Mega Drive/Genesis. It was a side-scroller action game where you could control Ripley battling aliens. There was a Gameboy version developed by Bits Studios which was a top-down action game. There was also an arcade game called Alien 3: The Gun which was a rail-shooter released by Sega in 1993.

Human Bishop Alien 3

DVD Captures

You can view more DVD Captures in the gallery.

Production Stills

You can view more Production Stills in the gallery.

Concept Art

Giger - Alien #1
Giger - Alien #1
Lebbeus Woods - Colony World
Lebbeus Woods - Colony World
Vincent Ward/Stephen Ellis
Vincent Ward/Stephen Ellis
Mike Worrall
Mike Worrall
Vincent Ward/Mike Worrall
Vincent Ward/Mike Worrall
Vincent Ward/Stephen Ellis
Vincent Ward/Stephen Ellis
Lebbeus Woods - Colony World
Lebbeus Woods - Colony World
Giger - Ballpoint Drawing
Giger - Ballpoint Drawing
Giger - Alien Hands #5
Giger - Alien Hands #5
Giger - Bambi Burster
Giger - Bambi Burster
Giger - Alien Dimensions
Giger - Alien Dimensions
Vincent Ward/Mike Worrall - Satellite
Vincent Ward/Mike Worrall - Satellite

You can view more Concept Art in the gallery.

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Comments: 10
  1. Never had a problem with this movie, one of my favorites. Still remember the night me and my buds went to see it opening night, and still remember watching it for like the 100th time a couple nights ago lol. Yes agreed extended version is way better and ox is better than dog. The promise of a flower!

    Good read, thanks!


  2. One feature of ” Alien 3 ” Cinematography was quite beautiful , I will not name scenes . Though the reinstate scenes except one , had the same look .


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