In the wild west of the Internet, it’s difficult to know what information to trust. Some anecdotes have waffled back and forth between “this is true” and “this is just a myth” — one that comes to mind is the story that Donkey Kong got his name from Shigeru Miyamoto looking into a Japanese thesaurus and seeing “donkey” listed as a synonym for “stubborn.” I’m pretty sure I read an interview where he confirmed this happened, but there is still a debate going around on whether it did.
Another legend is that of James Cameron’s Aliens pitch. Cameron was a relative nobody in Hollywood until he made The Terminator. 20th Century Fox in particular wanted to hear any other ideas he had. So the story goes that Cameron went to a whiteboard, wrote the word “ALIEN” on it, and then added an “S.” Then, after waiting for the reaction, he drew two vertical lines through the S, turning it into a dollar sign and the kind of language they would understand.
Until now no one has been able to definitively confirm this is how Aliens was pitched. But now Cameron himself has weighed in. According to a new interview with CinemaBlend, it’s 100% true…though he filled in a few more details. “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.”
So there you have it. I guess he’s lucky they didn’t literally call it Alien$.
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