Update 21/05/2023 – Shinji Aramaki has now confirmed on his Twitter account that, as we suspected below, he was the one behind the animation and that he doesn’t know the reason behind its lack of release.
As part of their Alien Day celebrations this year, the folk over at the Perfect Organism Podcast interviewed Josh Izzo, the man at 20th Century Fox who championed Alien Day as an official event. He was also one of the people responsible for shepherding the Alien and Predator expanded universe during the 2010s, as well as being the man behind the Alien vs. Predator animated series that is still cloaked and hiding away in a vault at Disney.
During the interview Josh let loose a whole slew of details about the project, detailing how he was inspired by the adaptations of DC Comics being developed by Warner Brothers, how he first pitched the concept and how it changed from an adaptation of Dark Horse’s original Aliens vs. Predator comic to something different.
One thing that did not happen during Alien Day in 2016 was – there is sitting at Disney now, at 20th [Studios], 10 episodes of a fully completed Alien vs. Predator anime series that I produced. It’s done. It’s in the can. It’s mixed, it’s finished. It was produced and story cracked by Eric Calderon and Dave Baker. Two unbelievably crazy talented guys. Dave Bixler was head of Home Entertainment at the time – from a creative perspective – and he championed this for me.
I was and I still remain to this day, good friends [with] – and I consider [him] a mentor – Sam Register. Sam Register is the head of all WB animation and Sam was in charge of all of the direct to DVD adaptations of the DC Comics programs. So, you know, Kingdom Come, Gotham By Gaslight, First Flight, the Wonder Woman one…all the direct to DVD at Warner Brothers animation came out of Sam’s division and I thought those were amazing. I was like this right here this is what’s up. This is a great business model. In a previous life, when I worked at Hasbro, I did a direct to DVD Action Man program and that also worked too, so I was like “that’s cool we can do this” and I have a budget. And it’s not super expensive. You could do this on the cheap.
So while I was setting up Alien Day and starting to lay the pieces in place I went to the head of our division. His name was Jeffrey Godsick, he ran consumer products at the time and I said “hey listen, I want to pitch this idea of a direct to DVD Alien and/or Alien/Predator and/or Predator animation that we the consumer products division can sell against. Let us be the masters of our own destiny rather than waiting for theatrical whenever a movie decides to come out” because at this time Covenant was still nascent and The Predator had not happened yet so the brands weren’t doing anything at the moment. It was still open season for our sci-fi brands so he was like “yeah, it’s a great idea, go.”
So I went to Home Entertainment, [to] the woman who was in charge of marketing, her name was Rio Cyrus, [an] absolute genius, and [to head of] production Dave Bixler. I pitched them and I said “we own nearly 30 years of comic book content of Alien and Predator and AvP. No rights, no strings. Dark Horse did an amazing job but it’s all Circle C 20th Century Fox. It’s ours to do with as we please. Why don’t we adapt the original AvP comic book series with Machiko and Broken Tusk? Let’s just do that. Here’s your storyboard. Here, it’s done, it’s finished. Like just take this and go make that into an animated movie, then we can use that as a springboard for consumer products.”
Everyone’s like “that’s a pretty cool idea. Let’s run the numbers.” We all ran the numbers and they were like “yeah this could work. Neat, let’s try it.” So they went out and they found…I believe it was – it wasn’t Gonzo – I have to think of the name of the production house but it was this amazing production house in Japan. They’d actually done some work for Studio Ghibli and some other stuff but they bid it out, they found this company that wanted to do it.
But the director who they brought on board said “this is cool and I’m down…” and he happened to be a really good director. He had worked on a Halo piece, it was a Halo kind of like Animatrix series (Josh is talking about Halo Legends). So he’d done that, but he also did the Captain Harlock movie. It was beautiful. He goes “I have another idea. Can I do my own thing?” He pitches us a whole new story, a brand new story. And so myself, as kind of Keeper of the Canon, plus we bring in Dave Baker and Eric Calderon…we bring them in as Western animation consultants and producers. We all sit down and we craft the story and we crack the idea and we find a place within our established canon. I put it way deep future, post-AvP, post-Alien 4.
It’s deep future stuff, where we said “this won’t compete with anything that’s happening in our core timeline.” So if you ever want to do another movie or tell any of the stories on Earth, we’re all square. It won’t overlap, nothing will happen, Finally we all come to an agreement. We green light it and we go. We’re making 10 episodes. It was going to be released as three direct to DVD and/or streaming movies here in the West. 10 episodes on Japan television
Alien vs. Predator Galaxy did reach out to Josh to see if he did remember the production studio but unfortunately received no response. Based on the credentials of the director that Josh gave, we believe the director to have been Shinji Aramaki. In addition to Harlock: Space Pirate and Halo Legends (The Package), Shinji also directed both Starship Troopers animated movies, the first and last Appleseed movies, Ultraman and most recently, Blade Runner: Black Lotus.
Given Shinji’s previous work, we also believe that the Aliens vs. Predator animation would have likely been CG animation, rather than what is considered the “traditional” Japanese anime. And though Josh didn’t go into specifics around the plot, he did reveal some details about the series’ Predator characters!
One of the Predators is a cyborg and has a fully cybernetic arm and a cybernetic mandible. It’s super rad. One we called Bone because all of his weapons were made out of giant tusks. He was so cool.
The original intent was that the series would have debuted on Alien Day in 2016, but when production of Alien: Covenant and The Predator started to gear up, the studio put the Aliens vs. Predator animation on the backburner.
This was going to be initially released on Alien Day in 2016. That was the plan. Now what happened was, as we were going forward Ridley came back to Fox and said “I want to make another alien movie.” This was going to be Covenant. And Shane came and said “I want to make a Predator movie” which was going to be The Predator.
AvP as a brand was something that was frowned upon at the time at Fox because those movies underperformed but meanwhile the intellectual property…just those words put together – Alien versus Predator – from a consumer products and a publishing perspective still worked.
Everyone just understood it was like chocolate and peanut butter. I would put these two things together and they’re awesome together so that was how I pitched it. So the idea was we wanted to have this launch on Alien Day and we were right up to the last minute still working on that. Netflix was interested, so was Hulu. We actually had distribution ready to go but because the larger studio had these two feature films utilizing the macro Alien and Predator intellectual properties, the animation got back burnered and they said “we’ll revisit this at another time.”
I had deals signed. NECA was developing, Titan was working on an art book and a novel. Dark Horse was working on a comic book series. Those were all in process. Somewhere in the world there is stuff that was being done. Someone has pictures. Anywho, so that kind of that was going to be one of the big driving forces behind Alien Day 2016.
Speaking as to why Disney has not yet released the series, Josh was unable to answer. He suggested that perhaps like Fox’s mentality of frowning upon Alien vs. Predator, maybe Disney wanted to keep Alien and Predator separate. Josh did elaborate that he knows the people at Disney shepherding the franchises and confirmed they were very aware of the existence of the series.
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