Aliens: James Cameron Confirms Urban Legend About How He Pitched Sequel

If you're a film fan with an obsession over the work of James Cameron then there might be a story about how he pitched Aliens that you've heard. As the tale goes, Cameron reportedly went to 20th Century Fox and when eager to make a sequel to Ridley Scott's Alien had a simple pitch. The filmmaker wrote the title on a whiteboard, added an S, and then turned that S into a $. For years this has kind of been hearsay and a "print the legend" style story for movie fans and people familiar with Cameron's larger-than-life persona. Now the man himself has confirmed it all happened.

"Yeah, it's true," Cameron told CinemaBlend when asked about the legend. "It just popped into my mind in the moment. It was actually on the back of a script, or some kind of presentation document. It might've been the treatment. I can't remember. I was sitting with the three producers, and we were in the office of the then-head of 20th Century Fox. And I said, 'Guys, I got an idea for the title. And it goes like this.' And I wrote, 'Alien' in large block letters. And I put an S on the end. I showed it to them. I said, 'I want to call it Aliens, because we're not dealing with one. Now we're dealing with an army, and that's the big distinction. And it's very simple and very graphic.' And I said, 'But here's what it's going to translate to.' And then I drew the two lines through it to make it a dollar sign. And that was my pitch. And apparently it worked! Because they went with the title. They never questioned it."

To his point, he ended up being right. Aliens would outgross the original Alien movie at the domestic box office by about $20 million, but ended up with a similar worldwide haul. Adjusted for inflation, Aliens' $85 million domestic total translates to $210 million in 2021 while its worldwide total of $183.3 million is adjusted to $464.85 million. With a reported production budget of $17 million though, it was a huge hit and nabbed seven Academy Award nominations and won two of them.

Cameron is hard at work on his next highly anticipated sequel, the follow-up to his 2009 movie Avatar, but the Alien franchise is working on another chapter in an FX TV series from Noah Hawley