Alien: Origins of Weylan-Yutani

leading from 

a) Dreams of Japanese industrial conglomerates
In 1977, Robert Asprin's novel Cold Cash War was released, a satire of business, war and politics that dealt with industrial conglomerates in the future and n this future.

The book starts with a conflict between a communications conglomerate and an oil company involved in war simulations.

Soon negotiating tactic results in non-military personnel becoming targets.

Fake warfare immediately becomes real assassination.

Soon there are other players involved as well.

A Japanese zaibatsu representing a community of Japanese-based corporations prepares to get involved as well.

Information brokers and spies flit around the outskirts of the conflict, trying to figure out what's going on. And most ominous of all - the Communist nations (the "C-Block") sit silently in the background, biding their time as the capitalists kill one another off.

b) Leyland-Toyota
During the times of the first drawings,  Ron wanted to give names to the company that created the spacecrafts, and they talked about them.

He had an idea that

Since Ron Cobb might well have gone ahead and called the company Leyland-Toyota which was a sort of English/Japanese merger, but using those names would have invited trouble for the production.

He came with a different version of such a name, he changed Leyland to Weylan, basically just changing the first letter and perhaps he wasn't sure about the spelling.

Toyota had to be changed, and so Ron Cobb used the surname of his neighbour, a Japanese woman named Amy Yutani that he knew very well instead, instead which still had the Y and the T.

That resulted in a W-Y logo which Ron liked.

He never knew though if Amy found out about the use of the name

British Leyland logo
Leyland had a tendency to be mutable.

Originally Leyland Motors which started off in the town of Leyland in North West England, would do things such as have a joint venture with an Indian company Ashok Motors to create Ashok Leyland in 1954 building cars in India until 1975.

However 1968 Leyland Motors merged with British Motor Holdings to become the conglomerate British Leyland.

At the time, one might wonder what other transformations the company might undergo.

Perhaps a company such as Toyota seemed like a good idea.

Toyota Logo

c) Mesoamerican eagle emblem from Friedkin's Sorcerer
In the film Sorcerer (released in 1977), directed by William Friedkin who directed The Exorcist, the remote Latin American village Porvenir is heavily reliant on American oil company Lartigue and Co. oil
This company send a group of men across the jungle to deliver unstable explosives to a burning oil field

The film looked as if it was be loosely inspired by Heart of Darkness, as if Friedkin were competing with Coppola who was off shooting his Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness based Apocalypse Now in the Philippines.
I might wonder Ridley knew about the movie since he liked Friedkin's The Exorcist, liked the idea of the use of an Mesoamerican style eagle and this sent him off to want to use the Egyptian winged sun motif

The oil company's Mesoamerican eagle logo in Friedkin's Sorcerer (1977)

The emblem seen above an Friedkin's Sorcerer (1977)


d) Going ahead with the Egyptian Motif
Ridley got to a point where he wanted to use the winged Egyptian motif that would be used with Weylan-Yutani logo and soon the words were dropped so that it was the Egyptian motif by itself.

The joke got lost unless you looked closely at details such as labels on underwear, stationary and beer cans.

e) Weylan's origins in Lovecraft
However the named Wayland could also be found to be the middle name of Francis Wayland Thurston, a character who is the narrator of the story "Call of The Cthulhu" by HP Lovecraft , an author whose work Dan O'Bannon was very very familiar with.

A Francis Wayland in turn was president of Brown University from 1827 to 1855, a place which HP Lovecraft wished to attend.

Francis Wayland, president of Brown University, 1827-1855
Source Quote
  1. Review of The Cold Cash War: The Cold Cash War (1977) was Robert Asprin's first book. Asprin was later to establish a name for himself with humorous fantasy - the Myth Adventures series probably being his most impressive and longest-running contribution to the genre. However, in 1977, Asprin seemed to have a much more grim look at things.

    In The Cold Cash War, corporations are using military operations as a bizarre way of settling contract negotiations. Armies - all wearing special suits and using non-lethal weaponry - muck around in the wilderness (mostly Brazil).

    By employing armies of mercenaries to zap one another in this advanced form of lasertag, the corporations resolve their disagreements without having to deal with things like 'courts' or 'laws'.

    The book starts with a conflict between a communications conglomerate and an oil company, but its focus quickly expands. A negotiating tactic results in non-military personnel (e.g. 'Jan in Corporate') becoming fair targets. Fake warfare immediately becomes real assassination. It doesn't take long for the government to notice the sudden spate of dead executives, and fake warfare soon becomes dangerously real...

    There are other players involved as well. A Japanese zaibatsu - for no discernible reason - is preparing to get involved. Information brokers and spies flit around the outskirts of the conflict, trying to figure out what's going on. And most ominous of all - the Communist nations (the "C-Block") squat silently in the background, biding their time as the capitalists kill one another off.

    The story is told through a half-dozen disparate points of view. A corporate negotiator, an information broken, a mercenary commander and even one of the marketing team assigned to 'sell' the war to the public. Although some of these characters are only tangentially related to the story, Asprin does an excellent job of making these (thumbnail sketches of) characters interesting, if rarely empathetic, through the old-fashioned use of cinema-style smack-downs. I'm not sure I ever cared very much about Captain Tidwell, but his ability to punt a knife into a charging samurai is pretty cool, and certainly kept me reading.

    The book concludes with a bizarrely improbable resolution that neatly ties everything together while still managing to leave the reader slightly dissatisfied. The first half of The Cold Cash War is far superior - mercenaries blundering around in an adult version of Ender's Game is much more interesting than the vaguely Dystopian preachings of the inevitable corporate-government conflict. (
  2. Ron Cobb: One of the things I enjoyed most about ALIEN was its subtle satirical content. Science Fiction films offer golden opportunities to throw in little scraps of information that suggest enormous changes in the world. There's a certain amount of potency in those kinds of remarks. Weylan-Yutani for instance is almost a joke but not quite. I wanted to imply that poor old England is back on its feet and has united with the Japanese, who have taken over the building of spaceships the same way they have now with cars and supertankers. In coming up with a strange company name, I thought of British Leyland and Toyota, but we obviously couldn't use Leyland-Toyota in the film. Changing one letter gave me Weylan, and Yutani was a Japanese neighbour of mine. I also thought it would be fun to develop a log using the W and Y interlocking. We tried a lot of variations and came up with some very industrial looking symbols, which were to be stenciled all over the ship. By that time though Ridley was already set on using the Egyptian wing motif. We tried some combinations, but they didn't really work. Weylan-Yutani now only appears on the beer can, underwear and some stationary, so the joke sort of got lost. (Alien Portfolio)
  3. John Mollo: Weylan-Yutani was Ron's invention and we all liked the sound of it. The name and the Egyptian wings were hotly pursued at the beginning, but we eventually dropped the words and just used the wings as a logo. (Alien Portfolio)
  7. Interviewer: Des bonnes idées, Cobb semble en avoir eu beaucoup tout au long de la pré-production du film. Des idées qui, pour certaines d’entre elles deviendront des symboles du film, puis de la saga. Le nom de la compagnie, Weyland-Yutani, est une idée de Cobb, qui voulait mettre des noms sur ses plans ! »
    Ron Cobb: « C'était à l'époque des premiers dessins. Je voulais leur donner des noms, on en parlait et j'ai dit que j'avais une idée, je pensais que le nom devait être quelque chose du genre «Leyland-Toyota», une sorte de truc anglais/japonais.… Or j'avais une voisine, une Japonaise, qu'on connaissait très bien et dont le nom était Amy Yutani... Je me suis dit pourquoi pas «Yutani- ? Avec le «Y» ça pourrait être sympa. Et puis Weyland à la place de Leyland... «Weyland-Yutani», ça donnait ce logo «W-Y» que j'ai bien aimé. Ça a ensuite vécu sa vie et ça se retrouve dans tout un tas de films. Ce truc, Weyland-Yutani représente toujours la méchante corporation. Dans Alien versus Predator, i y avait cette Japonaise à qui un autre type disait «oui mademoiselle Yutani»… Par contre, je ne sais pas si Amy Yutani a jamais su que j'avais utilisé son nom... »
    Google Translation:
    Of good ideas, Cobb seems to have had many throughout the pre-production of the film. Ideas which, for some of them will become symbols of the film, then of the saga. The name of the company, Weyland-Yutani, is an idea of ​​Cobb, who wanted to put names on his plans! »
    Ron Cobb: "I
    t was at the time of the first drawings. I wanted to give them names, we talked about them and I said that I had an idea, I thought the name should be something like "Leyland-Toyota", a kind of English / Japanese stuff. I had a neighbor, a Japanese woman, who we knew very well and whose name was Amy Yutani ... I thought why not "Yutani-? With the "Y" it could be nice. And then Weyland instead of Leyland ... "Weyland-Yutani", that gave that logo "W-Y" that I liked. It then lived his life and it is found in a lot of movies. This thing, Weyland-Yutani still represents the wicked corporation. In Alien versus Predator, there was this Japanese girl to whom another guy was saying "yes Miss Yutani" ... But I do not know if Amy Yutani ever knew that I had used her name ... " (Aaarg no.6, 2014)
  8. Ron Cobb: Ridley voulait que les symboles aient l'air égyptien, vous savez, les ailes d'Osiris, de véritables hiéroglyphes, (Google translation) Ridley wanted the symbols to look Egyptian, you know, the wings of Osiris, real hieroglyphics, 


  1. Updated with information from issue 6 of the French language magazine Aaarg from 2014 on 4th November 2019 . I actually bought a copy of this magazine in 2016

  2. Added the oil company's bird emblem from William Friedkin's film Sorcerer

  3. about the oil company's logo from Sorcerer, i don't know if it's relevant or not but it looks very similar to the "chavin condor", an iconographic motif from the ancient Chavin culture from Peru:
    it's a motif that have also been used for political propaganda within it's own country:
    maybe Friedkin production team was inspired by it when looking for some south-american or meso-american indigenous iconography? i don't know, but i love your blog, hope that you can keep making these investigations!

    1. Just to say many thanks for that! That realisation certainly absorbed me. Yes, I imagine that there must be something to do that.