Alien vs. Predator: Annihilation is a 10-episode CG anime series that then 20th Century Fox produced in 2015/2016. The series was directed by Japanese anime director Shinji Aramaki and was fully completed but the project was shelved. In 2023, three of the Fox producers have spoken about the series as well as director Shinji Aramaki himself. No videos or screenshots have been leaked from the anime.
Most of the article is based on what Eric Calderon and Dave Baker had revealed in The Best TV Never Made Podcast, released in 2023. It’s only their side of the story as we’ve heard very little from Shinji Aramaki. (Sources: Josh Izzo Interview, Shinji Aramaki Report, Dave Baker and Eric Calderon Interview)
For archival, you can find the podcast episodes below.
We know a lot about the early drafts and they were based on the original AvP comic book series as well as its sequel AvP: War following the Machiko character. We know the final story takes place in the deep future after the events of Alien Resurrection. Aramaki has said that the Aliens vs Predator animation series takes place on a giant immigration ship.
It is also known that one of the Predators was a cyborg and had a fully cybernetic arm and a cybernetic mandible. Another Predator was called Bone because all of his weapons were made out of giant tusks. We know some of the characters. There were going to be two arcs in the series. There was an engineer teenager being a mother figure to an autistic young girl called Lean (?) who is an Alien-human hybrid who can control the Aliens through pheromones. The villain in their story is called Fairbanks who is an economist.
A side story revolves around a character called Hank who suffers from PTSD and a Predator is seeking him for revenge.
Alien vs. Predator: Annihilation was produced by Josh Izzo who was Director of Licensing at 20th Century Fox with a story by Eric Calderon and Dave Baker. Izzo was friends with Sam Register who was Head of Warner Bros. animation and produced a lot of the direct-to-DVD adaptations of DC comics. This was Izzo’s inspiration and thought he’d be able to produce either an Alien, Predator, or AvP anime.
While Izzo was preparing for Alien Day 2016 (April 26, 2016), Izzo went to the President of Fox Consumer Products, Jeffrey Godsick and pitched his idea for an anime set in the Alien and Predator universe. They could produce consumer products to tie in with the show rather than waiting for a theatrical movie to come out. Alien Covenant was still in early development. The Predator hadn’t happened yet either so no merchandise was being produced at the moment.
Izzo then went to Rio Cyrus, who was in charge of Marketing at Home Entertainment and Head of Production Dave Bixler, and he pitched his take on an Alien vs Predator anime. He told them “We have 30 years of comic book content in the Alien and Predator universe. Why don’t we just adapt the original AvP comic book series with Machiko and Broken Tusk? We can make this animated movie and use that as a springboard for consumer products.” Everybody was very supportive and they had the budget to do the series.
The Calderon/Baker Drafts
Izzo then brought Eric Calderon onto the project who previously produced Afro Samurai and Calderon was going to be the producer, creative director and writer on the series. In turn, Calderon brought on his friend Dave Baker as Izzo mentioned he was interested in adapting the comics.
Their directive was to base the series on those early Dark Horse comic books. One option was to set the series in the main continuity and have it tie in with the comics and novels and the other option was to set in the distant future. When the Japanese studio became involved, it became very much set in the far future.
The first three episodes in their draft were very much based on Randy Stradley and Chris Warner’s first AvP comic where it was set on a farm. There’s an Alien infestation, a Predator comes and Machiko, the lead character befriends the Predator. They had to team up against the Aliens on this farming world. The location in their draft wasn’t so much a farming world but a mining/oil colony.
The middle three or four episodes are the second arc of the story which is based on Aliens vs Predator War where Machiko is living with the Predators. War sees the Predators on a mission to capture a Queen. The Predators are successful and begin to hunt on the planet Bunda. The Predators begin hunting human survivors instead so Machiko betrays the clan. She frees the Queen and flies the ship down to the planet where she battles the Predators and rescues the survivors.
The final three episodes are a new ending place specifically for Machiko where she would end up becoming a General. The Machiko character ages throughout the episodes and begins as a young woman and by the end, she becomes a General. Initially, the story was going to be that it ends with her preparing to be a General.
By this point, Calderon and Baker had written 5 or 6 scripts but had outlines for all the episodes and knew what each episode would be about.
Shinji Aramaki Joins The Project
Fox brought in a Japanese production team and Japanese anime director Shinji Aramaki to make the series. Aramaki previously directed Harlock: Space Pirate, Halo Legends (The Package), both Starship Troopers animated movies, and most recently, Blade Runner: Black Lotus. Baker and Calderon flew to Japan to meet the team. Aramaki wasn’t really interested in doing their story and wanted to do his own for the series from scratch. He wasn’t really familiar with the franchises, having only seen Aliens and his initial story pitch for the anime was very wild.
When Aramaki was brought on board, Fox told Baker and Calderon they wanted the pair to collaborate with the Japanese team to make Aramaki’s story better. Aramaki wanted to do all the scenes that he liked from Aliens. There were three or four different drafts for the Japanese version.
One initial draft was going to take place on a deep space freighter where an evil genius called the Gamemaster was trying to assess who was the strongest species in the universe. Humans, Aliens or Predators and he was going to put them all on the ship to fight it out. Initially, they had taken some elements of Baker and Calderon’s script and incorporated them into the Gamemaster story. The pair told them that the Gamemaster story had to go.
Another story involved an intergenerational ship that was going to a colony. Weyland-Yutani were transporting Xenomorphs to be used as weapons.
The Final Story
Both groups created a story that was deep in the future after the events of Alien Resurrection so it wouldn’t compete with anything in the core timeline. The final story ended up being a combination of an Alien idea that was mostly the studio’s and a Predator idea from Calderon/Baker but they had altered it and added their own threads. There are two arcs in the final story. There was an engineer teenager being a mother figure to an autistic young girl called Lean (?) who is an Alien-human hybrid who can control the Aliens through pheromones.
The Japanese studio always preferred calling everybody by their first name whereas Calderon/Baker preferred last names. The studio wanted the villain to be called Douglas Fairbanks which transformed into just Fairbanks. He wore a white suit and was an economist, he did a deal and betrayed everybody. The main Ripley character was going to get in a PowerLoader and fight a Queen.
In a separate side story, there is a character called Hank similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch who is suffering from PTSD and a Predator is coming to seek revenge because of a battle they had in the past.
The Japanese team did have an issue with the age of the Machiko/Ripley character and felt that Japanese audiences wouldn’t accept an older protagonist. They wanted a 14-year-old Ripley as the main character but Baker and Calderon explained the aesthetic of Alien is working-class, the main character has to be at least 18. The idea is that they are truckers in space, or military grunts in space.
The first episode of the anime was quite similar to Calderon/Baker’s script but by the time they got to episodes 4, 5 and 6, it was so far away from what they had done.
The project found its story and it was ready to be made. The team were producing 10 episodes and it was going to be released as three direct-to-DVD/streaming movies in the West while in Japan, the 10 episodes would be on television.
Fox Home Video Japan was the distributor of the anime but the Japanese production team saw the potential in the international release and they wanted to get a percentage of the profits. They requested that they finance the entire anime themselves and therefore control the whole series.
Baker and Calderon told Fox that the budget of around $4 million wasn’t that much for a company as big as Fox and that they would be losing creative control of their own franchises to a director who has seen only one movie in the series.
Calderon and Baker took on the role of adapting the series to English and started writing the scripts for the English dialogue. What they did was mostly mechanical, just making the dialogue flow better in English rather than rewriting the story.
The Japanese production studio was getting close to doing the dubbing and asked Calderon if he would direct the English cast. He felt that given that it wasn’t their story anymore, and the producers and Japanese director were going to be there, he passed on the opportunity.
When the studio reached finalising the anime credits. They contacted Calderon and Baker and asked them if they could remove their names from the series as they wanted the series to just be attributed to the director, Shinji Aramaki. Calderon then contacted his lawyer who told him that they were trying to breach his contract but his contract changed hands from Fox US to Fox Japan. He was told he could let it go or sue Fox for breach of his contract. Calderon and Baker decided to let it go as the project had drifted so far away from what they had envisioned.
Alien vs. Predator: Annihilation was fully complete and was ready to be released on Alien Day 2016. Netflix and Hulu were interested in streaming the series. The distribution was ready to go. Producer Izzo had done deals with NECA to produce figures, Titan was working on an art book and a novel, and Dark Horse was working on a comic book series.
AvP Anime Shelved
Calderon remarked that the final story was terrible and the anime didn’t feel like today’s version of Alien vs Predator, but one out of the 90s, and that the studio mismanaged the IP. Calderon guessed that when Fox saw the series, they just wrote it off.
Fox Japan realized that its direction had failed and had not listened to Fox US. It wasn’t going to work internationally and it wasn’t Japanese enough to satisfy the Japanese audience because they did take on board some ideas from Calderon/Baker.
At the time, 20th Century Fox was about to shoot Alien Covenant and then Shane Black’s The Predator was also in pre-production. Producer Josh Izzo mentioned this was the initial reason why it was delayed. Baker had felt if these two films weren’t in production and there was a drought in anything being made, Fox might have released the Aliens vs Predator anime to fill the void.
As a result, Alien vs. Predator: Annihilation was shelved. Aliens vs Predator as a brand was frowned upon internally at Fox as the AvP movies underperformed at the box office.
A couple of years later, Eric Calderon was approached to make an Alien anime based on the 2014 video game Alien Isolation. After his negative experiences in making the AvP anime, he refused. This series would become the Alien Isolation Digital Series which was released in 2019.
Disney purchased 20th Century Fox who also took the view that AvP wasn’t a good concept and preferred to focus on the singular franchises. The anime series was never officially announced and we’ve only had bits of information from Aramaki and the Fox producers about the series in the years after it was made.
First AvP Annihilation Image
In October 2023, director Shinji Aramaki posted the first image from the series. It shows an episode being edited and you can see the Xenomorph.
- Alien vs. Predator: Annihilation isn’t the first Alien/Predator anime to be produced but never released. Operation: Aliens was greenlit in 1992 but it was never released. It was intended to tie in with Alien 3 to market the series to younger audiences. Made by a Korean company, it was never clear if the series was fully complete when it was shelved but some screenshots were found years later. A whole line of Kenner figures based on the series was still released, however.
- ALIEN/PREDATOR: ANNIHILATION also featured in the very last line of Paul Anderson’s script for 2004’s Alien vs Predator and was going to be the name of his sequel.
- Titan Books was supposed to be publishing a new AvP novel called AvP: Annihilation from author John Shirley. The name of the novel was listed on a page in 2021’s Alien 3: The Unproduced First-Draft Screenplay but has never been seen since. It’s not known if it is connected to the anime.