Having directed the highest-grossing movie in the history of cinema twice over, continually reinvented the rules of cinema’s technological possibilities and committed to at least four Avatar sequels that nobody’s really been clamoring for, James Cameron evidently has a lot of confidence in his own abilities.
He’s been backing it up for over 35 years, too, but having finally confirmed a longstanding urban legend about sci-fi classic Aliens, his self-belief was clearly and firmly instilled long before he enjoyed consistent game-changing success. As rumor had it, when the filmmaker went in to pitch the sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic original, he simply wrote the title on a whiteboard before drawing two lines through the additional letter to indicate dollar signs.
Speaking to CinemaBlend, Cameron confirmed at long last that’s exactly what he did, and then proceeded to back it up after his phenomenal sequel out-earned its predecessor at the box office.
“Yeah, it’s true. 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.”
In all honesty, that’s exactly the sort of thing you’d imagine the young, brash Cameron doing when he set out his stall to reinvent the haunted house in space chiller’s follow up as a balls-to-the-wall actioner, and the fact Aliens is still lauded as one of the best sci-fi or action films ever made makes it perfectly clear he knew he’d be able to deliver.