Our friends over at Bloody Disgusting recently got hold of a statement made by director Paul W.S. Anderson regarding the very incomplete version of Alien vs. Predator which hit theaters last week. MovieWeb insiders rumbled for a long time about the studio finishing the film the week of it's release, and this response by the film's makers pretty much sums up the whole debaccle and why we got the disappointing movie fans have been eagerly waiting for for years...
Hi Brad... There was an industry screening of AVP the other night, and I was lucky enough to attend. It included a Q&A with the filmmakers. I was able to ask some of the questions on my mind, but I couldn't get them all in. Regardless, many of the people who were also there had similar questions.
First of all, this screening was made up of industry professionals and filmmakers. No actors, but David Fincher, (Director of Alien 3) was there, which was cool. Now the audience were trying to be respectful in the beginning but as the film unfolded, the audience ended up really trashing the film. It was astounding to see Anderson's colleagues and friends openly making fun of his film, with him in the room!
When the Predator took off his helmet in front of Lex after the explosions someone shouted "Gimme some sugar, baby." I mean, this movie was bad, but I didn't expect these people to be so blatant about it.
When Anderson and the effects guys approached the tables, they were smirking with each other. The first subject that came up, no thanks to me, was the length and PG-13 rating.
So here it is, from the horses mouth.
About the studio's cutting of the film, which he had no control over, he said, and I quote, "All of the best scenes were cut." Anderson was obviously very annoyed at the way the film was released. However, this was not purely because of the PG-13 limitation, which incidentally, the studio enforced THREE WEEKS before the release date! It was always going to be R until then. Part of the reason for the cutting was that some of the effects were not ready by the time the release date came around. The effects team had very little time to do anything.
As far as the content that was cut, apparently we see all those who die, die on screen, but he also said that there is a sub-plot that we will have to wait for on DVD. Yes there will be an R-rated Director's cut DVD although they don't know the release date yet.
Without saying anything that could dig his own grave, Anderson tactfully pinned the fault of the poor quality of the film on the studio's cut. We all know that the script and performances was not quite up to par either, but then it was time for me to ask my first question.
"What specifically, makes you [Anderson] such a fan of the original 6 films?"
He went on to say that he thought they each had their own unique voice and were incredibly creative within a genre that often leads to purely formulaic films (ahem, mate, this is you!). He said that he was attempting to add his own unique voice to the series while paying hommage to the original source material. He also thought that the creatures, were the two greatest inventions in Science Fiction history. Someone then said, "Beyond lightsabers?" and he replied, "yes, even beyond lightsabers."
Some other effects questions were asked, which had some cool insights. The explosion sequence encompassed for half the budget, which was only 65mil in the first place (for a film like this, this is nothing), and all the shifting of the walls, yes ALL OF IT, was completely CGI. There were no moving live sets. Having watched it again, I have to say, I couldn't tell, and all my friends know that if there's some CG in a film, I'll see it. That impressed me. Also, they changed the appearance of the Queen slightly, adding a ridge to her crown and taking away, what they call, the "high heals" that she wore (the second reverse knee). Also, 80% of all the shots with an Alien in it was the hydraulic Alien they built.
Anyway, effects aside, I asked another question.
"I know that the AVP project has been surrounded by controversy since the first attempt in the early nineties. Why did you choose to not use any of the pre-existing stories, the original comic series, the Peter Briggs script, etc?"
He told me that he wanted to make the film his own. He also proclaimed that he'd had the idea for this film ever since seeing Predator 2. I thought that was probably ego-driven BS, but regardless, it's what he said. He also said that the Peter Briggs script is completely off-limits, shelved indefinately by Dark Horse and they won't let anyone tough it. Sounds to me like he tried, heh heh.
Later I asked some technical nerd questions. I wasn't the only one. I started by stating that I noticed some glaring continuity errors between this film and the pre-established occurences in the previous 6 films. Anderson stopped me before I could continue and said due to the "mangling" of the film, there was a lot left out. I asked, "Does that include the acceleration of the alien life cycle or was that just conveniant."
Whoops, I had hit a nerve. He shook his head. "No, no, the machine that the Predators built to house the Queen pumps her full of hormones that accelerate the birth of the creatures. If we'd seen the REAL film, we'd know that."
The answer to why Aliens attacked the incubated predator was that the alien inside the Predator was not sanctified by the Aliens because it was essentially a different species due to the DNA reflex the Alien's possess. Okay, I guess I could go with that.
The Q&A wrapped up with talks about the digital intermediate and the difference between working with Super35 and Anamorphic.
I tried asking a last question but they ended it before I could. I pretty much hogged the Q&A as it was.
Afterwards I went and shook Anderson's hand. He remembered me from a mutual acquaintances birthday party. I told him I couldn't wait for the Director's Cut and was really nice. I asked about a sequal and he said he'd thought about it but nothing concrete was in motion. They were waiting to see about the returns. I told him I had what he neede and I would send him my treatment through CAA. I assured him it was a direct sequal and he said, "Good." I then said, so they're letting you have a Director's cut, huh? He said, "yeah, it'll be great." Then I said, "can I give you some advice from the youngest generation of filmmakers, namely, me." He said, "Sure, go for it." I said, "The facehuggers are fast, damn fast, get rid of the matrix shot when they jump out of the eggs for the first time." He said he'd take that into consideration. Then I started talking about the reviews. I talked about IMDB and how much of a "Lover Versus Haters" war had erupted. He seemed amused by that and then said,
to my surprise, well, as a filmmaker, I'm satisfied with the film, but as a fan of the originals, this cut really pisses me off, so it makes sense I guess." he said he'd check it out (the IMDB boards) but I can't gaurantee that will happen.
All in all I was really happy about what he had to say. It was great to hear a filmmaker so honest about his work and he knows that he has a long way to go before he is any good as a filmmaker. Having talked to him before, I know that the films he is making now are films that, he feels, will only get him to a place where he can really excel.
Oh well, there it is, hope that shed some light on some stuff. Oh, and apparently, the book they wrote is based on the original R-rated cut, so that'll tell you what is missing.
Dont't forget to also check out: Alien vs. Predator