A beautiful anecdote from Hollywood about one of the most effective pitches ever. Gordon Carroll, Exec Producer of Aliens recalls in the book “Hello, He Lied” by Linda Obst how James Cameron sold the project:
“Cameron was young. He had just directed Terminator. Cameron had called a meeting to discuss his “next project.” Everyone knew Cameron had written a treatment for Alien 2 that nobody would touch because Alien was not a massive financial success. Alien 2 was not on the table. We expected a professional pitch from Cameron, an outline and a treatment of what he had in mind with a cursory budget; perhaps a couple assistants to run a slide show. Instead Cameron walked in the room without so much as a piece of paper. He went to the chalk board in the room and simply wrote the word ALIEN. Then he added an ‘S’ to make ALIENS. Dramatically, he drew two vertical lines through the ‘S’, ALIEN$. He turned around and grinned. We greenlit the project that day for $18 million.”
Far from arrogant James Cameron saved everyone a lot of time by cutting straight to the point:
Without words he made clear he understood what the execs were interested in. Not another slow-paced, critically acclaimed, but effectively unprofitable movie. They wanted cash.
Cameron would deliver by transforming the franchise into a fast-paced, exiting action movie. How? Because there would not be just one, but MANY MORE of Giger’s terrifying creatures.
An action movie with a horde of Aliens, directed by the guy who made Terminator?
Obviously everybody in the room could see how that could work.
And Cameron had not even mentioned Space Marines or the Alien Queen…