The Avatar filmmaker directed the 1986 sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi-horror classic Alien.
According to the story, which some fans had previously thought to be an “urban legend”, Cameron went into a meeting with studio executives to try to get Aliens made.
As the crux of his pitch, he wrote the word “Alien” on a piece of paper, before drawing vertical lines through the final letter, turning it into a dollar sign.
Cameron recalled the meeting in an interview with Empire.
“I had lunch with a bigshot producer when I was about to start Aliens who said, ‘This is a no-win for you. If your movie’s good, Ridley will get the credit. If it’s bad, it’s all you. It’s a career ender.’ I said, ‘Yeah, buuuuuut... I like it.’
“I was maybe a dumbass fanboy, but I could see it so clearly in my head that I just had to go make it. And yes, it’s true. I was in a meeting with the studio head and the executive producers, and I turned my script over and on the blank side of the last page I wrote ALIEN. Then I drew an S on the end. Then I drew two vertical lines through the S and held it up to show them.”
He continued: “Maybe it was just Pavlovian conditioning when they saw the $ sign connected closely to the word ‘Alien’. Or maybe it was the confidence I projected. But they said yes.”
Aliens turned out to be both a critical and commercial hit for Cameron, making back $180m from a $18.5m budget.
The filmmaker’s latest film, Avatar: The Way of Water, is out in cinemas now.
A sequel to the 2009 smash hit Avatar, The Way of Water represents another box office success for Cameron, and is expected to pass the billion-dollar mark within days.
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