The history of Hollywood is littered with film projects that waste away in “development hell” for years, or worse, are abandoned altogether, leaving movie-goers to wonder “what if?” Titles like Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious Dune project or Nicholas Cage’s Superman Lives tease an alternate past in which a very different set of films hit theaters. One notable project that dangled in front of fans was the sequel to James Cameron’s Aliens, Alien 3. Initially, the film’s producers approached Neuromancer author William Gibson to write the script; he produced one, but ultimately it never saw the light of day.
Comic Book Resources revealed that Dark Horse Comics will release a comic series starting in November based on Gibson’s screenplay, adapted by Johnnie Christmas, who’ll handle both adapting the script and the art. Dark Horse already has the license for the franchise, and it’s done similar projects in the past, like its adaptation of George Lucas’ first draft of Star Wars, so it’s a natural fit for the publisher.
Gibson’s script picks up following the events of Aliens, when the USS Sulaco — carrying Ripley, Hicks, Newt, and the remains of Bishop — strays into a Soviet Union-like territory called the Union of Progressive Peoples. Its soldiers board the ship and are attacked by a facehugger, before departing for a space station called Anchorpoint, which is later overrun by the aliens.
But producers weren’t satisfied with the script, and when Gibson wasn’t able to find the time for the requested re-writes, the project went to a variety of other writers; when filming started in 1991, it did so without a completed script. Had Gibson’s original script been filmed, the franchise would likely have taken quite a different turn. Instead, fans got David Fincher’s ALIEN³, the director’s 145-minute major-feature debut that polarized critics and audiences alike. (The director later famously disowned the film.) A fourth installment, Alien Resurrection, also disappointed audiences. A fifth sequel was planned, but never filmed, and 20th Century Fox eventually produced two Alien vs. Predator films (adaptations of Dark Horse’s crossover series), before the franchise went on ice for years, until Ridley Scott returned to the franchise with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant.
Gibson’s original script has floated around the internet for years, so the contents of the story won’t be a surprise to dedicated Alien fans, but its publication will nevertheless bring the story to life for a new audience. If it sells well, maybe we’ll get to see the unfilmed Aliens sequel that Neill Blomkamp wanted to make.