AVP: Paul W.S. Anderson comes on board

leading from

Still in development 

a) Interest in doing AvP
Paul Anderson met John Davis. He had read the script for Paycheck, which he thought was terrific, they talked about it, but nothing came of it, and so a week later Davis phoned him to say "Do you have any interest in AvP?"

Paul replied "Do I? I've only had an idea for it for about a decade!"

b) Paul pitched his idea
He went to see John Davis and pitched his idea that he had been working on for the past decade,

John responded "I've heard 150, 200, 250 pitches on AVP, had a dozen scripts done, but this is the best idea I've ever heard!'

Then they went to Fox three days later . Paul told the studio " I want to do the kind of casting that Alien had. I want really good actors in every single one of these roles. I don't want stupid, gimmicky stunt casting. I don't any weak actors because they're big foreign. I want to assemble the kind of cast that Ridley Scott had."

Within a month Paul was writing the script.

c) Thoughts about aliens fighting predators
He was used to having discussions with people about who would win in a fight between a grizzly bear and Jaws, this was the sort of thing he could spend the whole night talking about, and it was the same for the Alien vs the Predator.

Ever since he saw an Alien's skull in the Predator's spaceship in Predator 2 and read the comic books, like many others, he wanted to see the two creatures battle it out and he would be having discussions with the best of his friends about what it would be like with an Alien and Predator fighting. 

He would also be asking questions such as "What would happen if a Predator blade cut into an alien? Would they melt?".

His idea was that if they went head to head, then the Predator have an advantage in clear ground with their shoulder cannons, but when the aliens can get the Predators in a tight space, then they clearly have the advantage

d) Studios disinterest in movie franchises
The journey to getting the film made had a torturous history, since the time of the production of Alien 3, they had a script by Peter Briggs, and yet they didn't make it.

The producers didn't see eye to eye on the matter and this was a stumbling block.

By the time that Anderson got involved, the studios were considering this franchise to be dead. Alien4 and Alien Resurrection as well as Predator 2 movies had been severe disappointments

e) Background with filming game adaptions
Anderson was a veteran of game adaption with Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil, finally got the nod because his script did the near impossible of pleading both sets of producers with their different agendas, Joel Silver with John Davis, and Walter Hill with David Giler.

f) Problems faced with making the film
Paul Anderson realised that to make AvP, it would be tough to meet the expectations of the public, and in his imagination, it would require finding a way in a biotech laboratory to genetically fused James Cameron, Ridley Scott and John McTiernan's genes in order to satisfy to satisfy them, along with an $800million budget. Someone had told him this film was a poisoned chalice.

The weight of expectation is so immense that it's almost impossible to live up to. He was most likely bound to fail in some ways

g) Setting it on Earth
Anderson definitely wanted it set on Earth and in the present day. 

He noticed that a lot of the other scripts put the Predator in the world of the Alien, in the far future - be it on a space station or a far-flung planetoid. 

The original comic book story set it on a planet colonised by humans. 

He was pretty specific that he wanted to bring the Alien and put it in the world of the Predator. So what he was doing with AvP was not remake Alien or Aliens, but go in a different direction. The action would be very much inspired by the comics.

h) Borrowing from the AvP comicbook 
Anderson saw in the comic books, it was always just the hunt.  

The Aliens are being bred by the Predators; they have a Queen and it's kept captive to lay eggs from which hatch the facehuggers and so the Predators can go and hunt the resulting aliens. 

 And to fully breed grown Aliens, they needs hosts and that was where the human cast come in the story. It was very clean and simple.

The movie is then about a hunting party of Predators who are tracking down the bred Aliens.

The Predators are probably a little too confident for their own good because events get out of hand, and the humans end up getting trapped in a war between the Aliens and the Predators

i) Adding the pyramid
But he thought that it might be more fun if there could be something more to it, and so the resulting concept for this movie came out of a lot of imagery that wasn't used in the first Alien. 

He'd seen that the Book of Alien had a bunch of Ron Cobb designs, which were done for the movie but never got filmed. 

Originally, when came back from the derelict to the Nostromo, they discover that there is a pyramid and the alien spores would be found inside - and there was this suggestion of a kind of civilization that was somehow tied in with the eggs.

That was an image that always stuck in his mind, the Aliens in a pyramid.

j) Von Danikenisation
He had been thinking about how the Aliens and Predators with the idea of it have a more religious significance, and this developed further into a Erich Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods slant to the Alien/Predator mythology. 

Perhaps it could be said that the very presence of an alien on the planetoid in Alien echoed Daniken's concepts as it was all very exciting science fiction discussion back in the 1970s. 

According to the AVP film, Predators have been coming to Earth for many thousands of years, initially making their presence known to early man, who treated them as deities; in turn, the creatures taught them how to build the pyramids. 

(See: Von Daniken inspires Alien vs Predator)

k) Reshaping the Alien mythos for AvP as a prequel
To fit the rest of the Alien franchise with the idea that this movie was a prequel, he decided that the Nostromo diverted itself to check out the derelict because it is clear that Weyland-Yutani knows about the existence of those aliens, they are not discovering them for the first time, and this movie would explain how the first piece of information falls into their hands.

Presumably Anderson was talking about the alien life forms that we have seen in Alien rather than just aliens in general), rather than just having a general notion that there was some sort of an alien presence there which was Ridley's idea.  

 Source Quotes:
  1. Paul WS Anderson: I went to see Predator producer John Davis and I pitched the idea I'd been kind of working out in my mind for the last 10 years. John said, "I've heard 150, 200, 250 pitches on AVP, had a dozen scripts done, but this is the best idea I've ever heard!' We went to Fox three days later and within a month I was writing the script. (Total Film#94, October 2004)
  2. Paul WS Anderson: I didn't write Alien Vs Predator as the first of a trilogy or anything like that. I always saw it pretty much as a one off movie. Having seen Predator 2, for years I had it lodged in my mind. "What would happen if a Predator blade cut into an alien? Would they melt?" I think the movie was very much working through a checklist of things that I, a fanboy, wanted to see. I feel like I ticked off nearly everything on that checklist. (Dreamwatch #118, p36)
  3. Paul WS Anderson: It started when I met John Davis, because I read a terrific script that turned out to be a not very good movie, Paycheck, and we talked about it. Nothing came of it, but he rang a week later and said , "Do you have any interest in AvP?" I said, "Do I? I've only had an idea for it for about a decade!." While the likes of Scott and Cameron had bigger fish to fry, Anderson, a veteran of computer game adaptations -Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil - got the nod because his script did the near-impossible; it pleased both sets of producers (Empire, November 2004, p111-112)
  4. Paul Anderson: Alien vs Predator really came out of 14 years of discussions between me and my best friends about what it would be like with an Alien and Predator fighting. I'm very aware of wanting to stay true to the properties, and please the hardcore fans - I am one - but you don't make the movies by the letter of that. (SFX Magazine November 2004)
  5. Paul WS Anderson: Alien vs Predator had a torturous history,  Fox have had a script for it for ten years, ever since Peter Briggs did an adaption of the comic book.  And yet they didn't make it; Alien still had an active franchise and the producers not seeing eye to eye was a stumbling block. I think a lot of them don't actually get on. But by the time I was involved, there was a sense at the studio that they were dead franchises.  The last two Alien movies and the last Predator movie were severe disappointments, financially.
    (Empire, November 2004, p111)
  6. Paul WS Anderson: I recall someone describing this film to me as a poisoned chalice. The weight of expectation is so immense that it's almost impossible to live up to. I'm almost bound to fail in some ways.(Empire, November 2004, p109)
  7. Lance Henriksen: You know what. This film happened because Paul brought two impossible groups together; Walter Hill and David Giler, and Joel Silver. And for him to have done this, putting those two groups together and getting the script okayed, is a miracle in itself. These two groups have different aggendas. (Empire, November 2004, p112)
  8. Paul WS Anderson: For a lot of people, you'd have to go to the biotech laboratory and find a way to genetically fuse James Cameron and Ridley Scott and John McTiernan's genes together in order for them to be satisfied. Oh, and you'd need an $800 million budget, too. (http://articles.philly.com/2004-08-13/entertainment/25391516_1_alien-and-predator-acidic-blood-sci-fi-franchises)
  9. Paul WS Anderson: It's like that discussion you have in a pub - who would win: Jaws or a grizzly bear? You could kill a night just talking about that. Same thing with Alien vs. Predator. Ever since I saw an Alien's skull in the Predator's spaceship in 'Predator 2,' I've wanted to see the two creatures battle it out. (http://articles.philly.com/2004-08-13/entertainment/25391516_1_alien-and-predator-acidic-blood-sci-fi-franchises) (Indiana GazetteWednesday, November 12, 2003, Page 9)
  10. Paul WS Anderson: The Predators have a captive Alien Queen who they force to lay eggs and use those eggs to hatch Face Huggers. To fully breed grown Aliens, they need hosts and that's where our human cast comes in. The movie is then about a hunting party of Predators who are tracking down the bred Aliens. The Predators are probably a little too confident for their own good because things get out of hand. Eventually, our humans end up getting trapped in a war between the Aliens and Predators. (Dreamwatch, #118, p20)
  11. Paul WS Anderson:I definitely wanted it set on Earth and in the present day. A lot of the other scripts put the Predator in the world of the Alien, in the far future - be it on a space station or a far-flung planetoid. I was pretty specific that I wanted to bring the Alien and put it in the world of the Predator. What we're doing with AvP is not remake Alien or Aliens, but go in a different direction. The movie is very inspired by the Dark Horse comic books, and we wanted to give it a more comic book feel. The combat sequences ar very 'rock-'em-and-sock-'em', and very influenced by the AvP comics. (SFX Magazine November 2004)
  12. Paul WS Anderson: The movie is very much designed as a prequel to Alien and feeds into that story.  When the Nostromo diverts itself to check out the derelict, it is clear Weyland knows about the existence of those aliens. They are not discovering them for the first time. This movie explains how that first piece of information falls into their hands.
    (Dreamwatch, #118, p20)
  13. Paul WS Anderson: I don't want to give it away because it's one of the treats of the movie, but, yes, they go head to head. Obviously , the Predators have an advantage in clear grounds if they have a plasma gun on their shoulder. It's tough for the Aliens because they get blown away. But if the Aliens can get the Predators in a tight space, then they clearly have the edge.
    (Dreamwatch, #118, p21)
  14. Paul WS Anderson:We have two species going at each other so it's a war with lots of death. As the movie progresses, one particular Alien and Predator becomes the focal point.(Dreamwatch, #118, p21)
  15. Paul WS Anderson: One of the interesting things about the first two Alien movies is that you don't see the Facehuggers for a long time. They have a slow build up, so you care about the characters when they die. it also preserved the mystique of the creatures. The same goes for Predator - you don't even see the Predator cloaked until 50 minutes in. (Dreamwatch, #118, p21)
  16. Paul WS Anderson: When I [first] talked to the studio, I was upfront with them. I said "I want to do the kind of casting that Alien had. I want really good actors in every single one of these roles. I don't want stupid, gimmicky stunt casting. I don't any weak actors because they're big foreign. I want to assemble the kind of cast that Ridley Scott had" - a fantastic ensemble - and I wanted that kind of group - not necessarily star driven - and the studio was very good about that. (Fangoria #235, p44)
  17. Paul WS Anderson: In the comic books, it's always just the hunt. The Aliens are being bred by the Predators; they have a Queen and it's kept captive to lay eggs so they can go and hunt them. It's very very clean and simple. But I thought it would be more fun if there was more to it. The concept for this movie came out of a lot of imagery that wasn't used in the first Alien. I don't know if you've got the old making of book that has a bunch of Ron Cobb designs, which were done for the movie but never got filmed. Originally, when they were going back from the derelict to the Nostromo, they were going to find this pyramid - the eggs would be inside - and there was this suggestion of a kind of civilization that was somehow tied in with the eggs. That was an image that always stuck in my mind. Aliens in a pyramid. (Fangoria #234, p44)
  18. Paul WS Anderson:[Anderson's script introduces a Chariots of the Gods slant to the Alien/Predator mythology. According to AVP, Predators have been coming to Earth for many thousands of years, initially making their presence known to early man, who treated them as deities; in turn, the creatures taught them how to build the pyramids.] It came out of just thinking about Aliens and Predators and why and how they would come together. This idea of it having a more religious significance. (Fangoria #234, p44)

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