Empire Magazine has a look into the troubled history of David Fincher’s Alien 3 — you know, the one that takes place in a prison. It’s a fascinating case study on movie development in Hollywood and makes me pine for an alternate universe where original director, Vincent Ward‘s (who went on to direct What Dreams May Have Come) vision was carried out.
As such, much of the actual Alien 3 movie threads were developed by Ward, like Ripley dying and getting impregnated, etc. Makes a lot more sense now, knowing the movie’s history.
At the meeting with London, Giler and Hill, Ward’s pitch, as he recalls, went something like this: “What if this Alien had been encountered somewhere in the distant past on Earth? People would have thought of it as some kind of devil. Then, what if you had like a sort of powerful sect on Earth (in the future of the Alien movies) who reject all technology beyond a certain date. So the ruling forces say to the sect, ‘Okay, you wanna live this way? We have an old satellite – huge thing. We’ll tow it into outer space and you can just live there on your own.’ They just give them a place to live where they know inevitably they’re gonna die.
“The sect agree, but they believe in having an environment that looks archaic. Within that environment – a huge, round satellite about a mile in diameter – you have maybe 16 floors, each one about 100 metres high. It’s layered like an ant’s nest, or bee’s nest, and each layer has been largely clad with huge areas of sculpted wood. They can grow wheat there, and even have windmills and orchards. In a way it’s like a monastery. The satellite [named ‘Arceon’] has a range of technologies that allow it to survive in outer space: it has a means of dealing with gravity, and a means of dealing with air, and it has a low surface atmosphere. It looks like a meteorite on the outer surface.” This was what has since been called the ‘Wooden Planet’ vision.
The producers, it seemed, loved it. “It was a little far out,” remembers Giler, “but that’s what we wanted: to push this thing a little bit.” Soon after, Ward met with Sigourney Weaver and they hit it off. She found his concept, she says, “very original and arresting”. Ward was hired in late 1989. Alien III was finally greenlit.
Sounds absolutely insane, but let’s be real, it’s miles better a concept than part 4, the recently announced Ridley Scott prequel, and anything Alien vs. Predator related.