Alien 3 (unused concepts of sci-fi horror film; 1992)

Alien 3 (unused concepts)
Theatrical poster.
Theatrical poster.
Status Lost

Alien 3 was the third installment in the Aliens franchise directed David Fincher and released in 1992. Before the film was released, it when through went through 5 years of “development hell” with different plot concepts being tossed around.

William Gibson’s Alien III

William Gibson wrote the first script for Alien III in 1987. At the time Sigourney Weaver seemed like she didn’t want to return for a third sequel. As a result, her character was written out of the plot and instead focused on Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen's characters Hicks and Bishop.

The story is set aboard a large space station called Anchorpoint, where Weyland-Yutani begins experimentation on Xenomorph material recovered from Bishop's remains aboard the Sulaco. The script also features a distinct Cold War element, with the rival "Union of Progressive Peoples" (analogous to the Soviet Union) running their own Xenomorph experiments after boarding the Sulaco before its arrival at Anchorpoint and recovering genetic material of their own. Eventually both Anchorpoint and the U.P.P space station are overrun by Xenomorphs and Hicks and Bishop must team up with the survivors to destroy the creatures. The script ends with a cliff-hanger for Alien 4 in which Xenomorph genetic material is headed for Earth aboard the Sulaco. Bishop suggests to Hicks that humans are united against a common enemy and they must track the Xenomorphs to their source and destroy them.

The plot would’ve been action oriented like James Cameron’s Aliens and would’ve featured more action scenes with marines fighting the Xenomorphs. Unfortunately, the producers, while liking certain aspects of the script, were unhappy with the screenplay overall. Gibson was asked to make rewrites with their newly hired director, Renny Harlin, but declined, citing various other commitments and "foot dragging on the producers' part. Eventually, this film concept was scrapped.

Despite being undeveloped, the film’s script can be found online. The plot received praise from fans of the franchise who’ve argued that this would’ve been the best plot concept for Alien 3.

Eric Red’s Alien 3

The second concept for Alien 3 was written in 1989 by Eric Red, known for the cult horror films The Hitcher (1986) and Near Dark (1987). Red’s script had hardly anything to do with the previous two entries safe for the opening where all of the characters from Aliens are discovered to have been killed by the Xenomorphs on the Sulaco and a bloody dog tag with Ripley’s name on it.

The script is set aboard a space station that houses an entire small-town USA settlement, including open wheat fields, farms and a small town, all housed under a giant dome. Beneath the town, the rest of the station consists mostly of a high-tech research facility, where military scientists are secretly breeding and studying the Xenomorphs. The creatures soon escape and wreak havoc, and with most of the military and science personnel killed in the initial outbreak it is left to the townsfolk to fight off the creatures. At the end of the story, the station itself becomes "infected" by the Xenomorphs and turns into a giant biomechanical Xenomorph creature.

After being shown Red's screenplay, then-director Renny Harlin walked out on the project, and Red was soon fired shortly afterwards. Red would later admit that he didn’t like his concept saying “The piece of junk was a product of a few weeks of intense, hysterical story conferences with the studio to rush to get the picture into production and it turned out completely awful.”

David Twohy’s Alien III

In 1989 David Twohy wrote a third script for Alien III that was even further from the previous two instalments then Red’s plot was. Twohy’s film was set year after Aliens and the only reference to the previous installment was an image of Ripley on a computer with the word deceased written underneath it.

Twohy's story is set on a prison space station in Earth’s orbit called Moloch Island, where inmates act as manual labor in a giant refinery that smelts ore mined in space. The prison is also secretly being used by Weyland-Yutani to breed and run illegal experiments on the Xenomorphs, many of which involve the use of convicts as live bait. To keep the experiments secret from the prison population, only death row inmates are used, their executions faked in a gas chamber before they are revived and used in the tests. Examples include breach testing, where a Xenomorph is videotaped as it searches for and finds the weakest part of a structure with human bait inside, breaks through and attacks the victim. An accident at the station frees the Xenomorphs, and the surviving prisoners and staff must team up to try and escape.

Vincent Ward was hired to direct the film, although he promptly told the studio he was not interested in filming Twohy's script and instead wanted to pursue his own idea for a third movie. Ward was given the go-ahead to develop this idea. Even though the studio had Twohy performing rewrites of his own script which included adding the character Ripley, they told him that Ward's screenplay was in fact for a fourth movie in the franchise. When Twohy learned of Fox's duplicity, he quit and his draft was put aside.

Vincent Ward’s Alien III

The fourth concept for Alien III was written in 1990 by Vincent Ward. This plot had Ripley's escape pod crash landing on a monastery-like space station, which is archaic in design and largely constructed from wood. This unusual satellite, called Arceon, is a place of refuge for a group of all-male Luddite-like monks, who have rejected modern technology.

The story begins with one of the monks witnessing a "star in the East" (in fact Ripley's escape pod approaching the station), which his brothers at first believe to be a good sign. However, upon the arrival of Ripley, and with increasing suggestions of Xenomorph presence, the monks instead come to view the omen as the herald of some sort of divine trial for their misdemeanors, for which they are being punished by the creature that haunts them. By having a woman in their monastery, the monks wonder if their trial is partially caused by sexual temptation, as Ripley is the only woman to be amongst the community in many years. To avoid this temptation and (hopefully) the much grimmer reality of what she has brought with her, the monks lock Ripley into a dungeon in the lower levels of the space station and ignore her advice on the true nature of the beast. However, one of the monks soon comes to believe Ripley and frees her, and together they attempt to escape Arceon.

Ward's is by far the most famous of the unproduced screenplays for Alien 3 and has received significant praise for its setting in particular. Former London Times journalist David Hughes included Ward's version of Alien III amongst "the greatest sci-fi movies never made" in his book of the same title. A significant portion of the Alien 3 making-of documentary, Wreckage and Rage, is dedicated to Ward's screenplay. The project progressed to the point where several sets to be used in the film were designed, although little was actually built. However contrary to the promise of full creative control they had originally made the director 20th Century Fox began attempting to curtail Ward's ideas, hiring writers Greg Pruss and Larry Ferguson to rewrite his script. Ward quit the production as a result. His replacement, David Fincher, had little interest in developing Ward's script, although the characters and plot it contained were ultimately adapted into the finished film.

This concept was eventually re-worked into the Alien 3 that was released. Producers Walter Hill and David Giler took control of the screenplay themselves, melding aspects of the Ward script with Twohy's earlier prison-set screenplay to create the basis of the final film. Even so, the script underwent numerous late revisions even as filming was taking place. David Fincher also did further work on the screenplay with author Rex Pickett, the latter of whom revised most of the work done by the previous authors despite eventually being fired, allegedly for siding with Fincher over Hill and Giler on where the script should be going. With the script situation becoming increasingly chaotic, Hill and Giler wrote the final draft of the screenplay. By the time the film was released, Fox had spent $13 million on the writing of the film, with no less than ten different writers contributing to the project.


[1] William Gibson's Alien III

[2] Eric Red’s Alien 3

[3] David Twohy’s Alien III

[4] Vincent Ward’s Alien III



Anonymous user #1

12 months ago
Score 0++
This is a good article with a lot of information about each script, but it leaves out one crucial thing about the Red, Twohy, and Ward scripts: Are they as widely available as the Gibson script or not? They must be lost to some degree if they're on the Lost Media Wiki, but are they merely unreleased, or has 20th Century Fox lost track of them? This detail should be clarified in the article.

Anonymous user #2

10 months ago
Score 0++
do where that full version is because theres a longer version i heard

Anonymous user #3

5 months ago
Score 0++
I remember reading a slightly more in depth article about Eric Red's version in an old Fangoria magazine, probably from around the time the 3rd film came out.


5 months ago
Score 0++

There must've been a 4th alternate script developed however.

My evidence for the 4th is this youtube video for an Alien 3 Teaser: https://www....=Bk_x9W1xKng

Which implies that Aliens were coming to earth. Unless this is a teaser for Twohy's script. Either way, this video should be placed in here for information purposes

Anonymous user #4

4 months ago
Score 0++
Were there any lost scripts for Resurrection? If so, I'd like to know more about the development of the fourth movie, as it's less clear, Alien, Aliens and Alien 3's development and production are as documented as Trump's presidential campaign. I'd like to maybe read a screenplay written before Joss Whedon came in.
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