James Cameron confirms ‘urban legend’ about his Aliens film pitch was in fact true

Cameron says he was told 1986 sequel could be a ‘career ender’

Louis Chilton
Tuesday 27 December 2022 10:53 GMT
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James Cameron has confirmed that a long-standing story about his pitch meeting for Aliens is in fact completely true.

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.”

James Cameron photographed at the world premiere of ‘Avatar: The Way of Water'

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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