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James Cameron Was Told Aliens Would Be a ‘No-Win Career Ender’

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As Avatar: The Way of Water continues to thrive in the box office, director James Cameron is looking back on his filmography.


In an interview, Cameron was asked if he had any hesitation when it came to making a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien. Though Cameron himself wasn’t worried, he shared that a famous producer advised him against taking on the project.

“I had lunch with a bigshot producer when I was about to start Aliens who said, ‘This is a no-win for you. If your movie’s good, Ridley will get the credit. If it’s bad, it’s all you. It’s a career ender,’” Cameron told Empire. “I said, ‘Yeah, buuuuuut… I like it.’ I was maybe a dumbass fanboy, but I could see it so clearly in my head that I just had to go make it.”

The director then spoke about how he went about making the title for the sequel while in a meeting with the studio head and various executive producers.

“And yes, it’s true,” Cameron recalled. “I was in a meeting with the studio head and the executive producers, and I turned my script over and on the blank side of the last page I wrote Alien. Then I drew an S on the end. Then I drew two vertical lines through the S and held it up to show them. Maybe it was just Pavlovian conditioning when they saw the $ sign connected closely to the word Alien. Or maybe it was the confidence I projected. But they said yes.”

Cameron’s latest film is Avatar: The Way of Water, which he wrote and directed. The Avatar sequel features the return of Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Joel David Moore, Dileep Rao, Stephen Lang, Matt Gerald, and Sigourney Weaver.

Three additional films are planned, with Avatar 3 tentatively scheduled for December 20, 2024, Avatar 4 set for December 18, 2026, and Avatar 5 on December 22, 2028.