The 1979 movie Alien launched a franchise that now has five movies and another on the way, and that’s not even counting the two Alien vs. Predator movies. Why so many sequels? Because the second movie, Aliens, was so good that it rivaled, or even eclipsed, the first one. James Cameron directed the 1986 sequel, which brought back Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, who has to battle the xenomorph once again. None of the later movies could compare. Let’s learn what went on behind the scenes of Aliens.
1. CONAN THE DESTROYER HELPED IT GET MADE.
The movie, not the guy. Based on the strength of his script for The Terminator (then in pre-production), James Cameron was approached by 20th Century Fox to write an Alien sequel. But the outline he came up with for Alien II got a lukewarm reaction at Fox, and the idea was put on hold for the time being. Then, as luck would have it, the start date for The Terminator was pushed back nine months so that Arnold Schwarzenegger could make Conan the Destroyer, the sequel to his 1982 hit (in which Conan had been merely a Barbarian). This extra three-quarters of a year gave Cameron time to write three-quarters of a full screenplay for Alien II, not just an outline. (He also co-wrote Rambo: First Blood Part II during this time, by the way.) The Fox bosses liked what they read. Cameron was told that if The Terminator proved successful, he could write and direct the Alien sequel.
6. THE SET WHERE THE ALIEN NEST IS FOUND SHOWED UP IN TIM BURTON’S BATMAN.
It was a defunct power station, called Acton Lane, and it had the right atmosphere for Aliens. It later appeared as Axis Chemicals, which is where Jack Napier falls into some acid and becomes Joker-fied in 1989's Batman. Parts of the alien hive were still there when Burton and his crew came in, which must have freaked them out a little.
There’s more that you don’t already know about Aliens at mental_floss.
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