Read William Gibson's Unused Screenplay for 'Alien 3'

Read William Gibson's Unused Screenplay for 'Alien 3'

Mar 27, 2013

The troubled production history on Alien 3 is far from a secret. You can read all about in books like The Greatest Sci-fi Movies Never Made, but basically 20th Century Fox had no idea what kind of a movie it wanted to make. It commissioned script after script from different writers, and even after finally committing to one for first-time feature director David Fincher to helm, the studio still managed to flip-flop in postproduction. Over a decade later Fincher had this to say of the entire experience:

"I had to work on it for two years, got fired off it three times and I had to fight for every single thing. No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me."


On a less-hostile note, one of those screenplays that was never used belonged to brilliant sci-fi novelist William Gibson. Yesterday the writer took to Twitter to talk a bit about it, even sharing a link to the entire screenplay. He seems (at least in hindsight) positive about the entire experience, though that may have something to do with him pointing out that he was paid "quite handsomely" despite the script never being used.

Gibson's script is wildly different from the final film. For starters, his barely includes Ripley at all. Sigourney Weaver had stated she didn't want to do the movie, so the Fox executives ordered him not to include her. He still did, but he essentially wrote her out of the movie by having her put into a coma in the opening. From there we're given an action-heavy story that's somewhat like a cross between James Cameron's Aliens and John Carpenter's The Thing.

A sample:



Her eyes snap open.


As the beast mounts her coffin, terminal nightmare.



Her hands claw frantically at the smooth curve of the plastic canopy.

The remaining Marine, crazy with adrenaline and terror, unleashes his flame
thrower. The first Alien and Ripley's capsule vanish in a napalm fireball.
The Marine spins, screaming incoherently, and liquid fire hoses the second
Alien, which drops its victim and falls burning into the deck.

The vault is an inferno.  Ripley's capsule is sagging, melting.


A bioweapon division has been experimenting on the xenomorphs, but of course they escape. These altered xenomorphs contain a contagion, however, that's spread by close contact. Infected humans show little sign of incubation, until their skeletal structure starts to explode and expand from within. Think of it like a full-body chestburster, only the host has no idea they're infected.

It's an incredibly ambitious script filled with elaborate set pieces embedded within a larger story of a sort of interstellar civil war. Perhaps the scale of the action is what caused Fox to pass and go in a new direction, ultimately abandoning Gibson's ideas altogether.

You can read William Gibson's full Alien 3 script right here. And if you do, do let us know if you think it would have ultimately made for a better film than the one that ended up being made.

Follow along on Twitter: @PeterSHall and @Moviesdotcom.

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