First ‘Prometheus’ Writer Admits the Film Was Originally ‘Alien: Engineers’

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Prometheus Alien Engineers Original First Prometheus Writer Admits the Film Was Originally Alien: Engineers

[Warning: This article discusses MAJOR SPOILERS for Prometheus]

Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien universe with the prequel Prometheus ended up being quite the divisive film (read our review). Praised in some quarters and vilified in many others, its reception (particularly in Internet circles) has tended to overshadow the movie itself.

Amid the slowly dying furor over the movie’s perceived flaws, many have wondered aloud (and in print) about Prometheus‘s odd and uneven script. Last week, a script purporting to be the first, continuity-heavy draft of the film appeared on the Web. In response to the draft’s release, the man responsible has admitted that the script is genuine and that this version was originally titled Alien: Engineers.

In an extensive pair of articles posted on Collider, the author of Prometheus‘s first draft, John Spaihts (The Darkest Hour), spoke on the leaked script and the changes made to his screenplay by Lost veteran Damon Lindelof. Spaihts admits that this preliminary version of the story would have been much more explicitly tied into the larger Alien universe – complete with appearances from the iconic face-huggers, chest bursters, and full-grown xenomorphs of the previous films. Despite these direct appearances of more familiar plot elements, the first draft of what was then known as Alien: Engineers still contained some of the more infamous  Prometheus elements (such as David’s treachery, the Engineers’ brutality, and the squirm-inducing auto-surgery scene).

Perhaps the most interesting comments made by Spaihts regard the shift between his and Lindelof’s versions of the script. It sounds as if Lindelof streamlined the story quite a bit, cutting out scenes and character beats that may have made some of the movie’s more head-scratching moments clearer. Some scenes – such as the Prometheus ramming the Engineer ship during the finale – were added at Ridley Scott’s request. And, of course, the vast majority of the direct references to the previous Alien films were excised completely. According to Spaihts, the decision to remove the xenomorphs and their murderous progeny from Prometheus came largely from producers, who wanted to see the eventual movie stand on its own rather than as a part of the somewhat-moribund Alien franchise.

Prometheus Alien Engineers Cut Scene First Prometheus Writer Admits the Film Was Originally Alien: Engineers

Obviously, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to figure out whether the original Alien: Engineers script would have made for a better film than Prometheus. That version certainly seems to have taken more time and care to set up the various big emotional moments that often fell flat in the final product. At the same time, some of the movie’s questionable elements – unexplained mutagenic compounds, inexplicable character turns, and underdeveloped subplots – are holdovers from Spaihts’ screenplay. As such, we cannot point fingers solely at Damon Lindelof and producers for the weirdness of the final product.

One thing is certain: As we have argued on Screen Rant, a stronger sense of continuity with the other films in the Alien series could have made Prometheus more cohesive and emotionally resonant. By stripping out Spaihts’ adherence to the timeline and mythology of the Alien films, Lindelof and company removed many potential emotional handholds for the audience. Whether this made Prometheus a stronger standalone product or the weakest link in a franchise is up to the individual – and in the light of this curious first draft, is more or less unanswerable.


Prometheus is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.

Source: Collider

TAGS: alien, prometheus


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  1. I really enjoyed this movie.

    I couldn’t care less what the fanboys think SHOULD’VE happened. Prometheus was awesome and I can’t wait for the next one.

    • 100% agreed

    • Couldn’t agree more, Prometheus is a fantastic movie on it’s own and i can’t wait for the sequel to come.

    • I guess I’m a fanboy, but I loved this movie.

      I didn’t need to see the xenomorphs because I was thrilled that the Engineers/Space Jockeys were the “focus”. I sure hope we get more information on their origins in the sequel.

      I think I’m going to watch this again later tonight.

      • ^This exactly.

      • Totally agreed! Eventually xenomorphs will get here. But this is other story. different plot. xenomorphs are not the only thing to fear in space.

    • Yeah, it was still a great movie without the Xenomorphs

    • yep,pretty dope

    • They should have made it its own movie and not promoted it as a sequel to aliens.

    • Exactly. I think it is both a genuine smart prequel as well as rondo-moderato into Cameron and Jenet congenitaly absurd course for the surnumeral hunt for a weirdest & newest kind of monster. Those of Scott, beyond the God/Engineer/perverse-patient-destructor, are just a final faint beta-version of the Alien itself and the weirdest monster is just like that of OrsonWells : it is an invisible enemy – isn’t it smart? It is also very fertile in terms of giving new ADN to the franchise (other than that of a writen-high-on-cocain new-found-cousin-to-breed-with Predator).

    • When I finally saw Prometheus (at 35, I just don’t make it to theaters very often, when my glorious tv is in the comfort of my own home), I was confused by the disparity between the perception of those who disliked it…and my own.

      I loved it—and I grew up obsessed with the Aliens franchise. In fact, the only Aliens-related nightmare I’ve ever had, featured an Engineer.

      No movie is perfect, but Prometheus presented a truly horrific (in a good way) vision of mankind seeded by a brutal, potentially-advanced-to-the-point-of-psychopathy alien species.

  2. Could of, Would of, Should of seems to be the theme of all Prometheus articles

    • Could HAVE, would HAVE, should HAVE used HAVE, not OF!

      I shouldn’t have been so rude, so apologies as I know people only come here to discuss movies, but this new grammatical fad of using “of” instead of “have” just bugs the heck out of me.

      Anyway, I find Prometheus all the more intriguing for not being as closely linked to the previous films. If I want to see Xenomorphs I already have the choice of 6 existing movies and a wealth of fan/non-canon fiction to choose from.

      • I agree. Internet writing is too idiotic, and I know A LOT of people writing on the internet aren’t idiots, though they still write like one.

        • Could have been worse…..they could have wrote:

          Coulda, woulda, shoulda

          • at least thats how it sounds in your head; coulda woulda, etc. people saying should of are mistaking of for ‘ve, which is a complete other level of wrong and misunderstanding. coulda woulda shoulda, you tend to know you are saying it like that on purpose…

  3. Yeah, I enjoyed Prometheus as it was and didn’t really leave with more questions.

    The only thing I didn’t see was the xenomorph on the wall in the room with the jars but otherwise, I walked out looking forward to a sequel furthering the story.

    I guess it all depends on personal opinion and movies like this with such high expectations from a minority of the population who follow or write for movie websites seem more divisive within our own little bubble than they do when talking to the average person on the street about the same movie.

    • Prometheus WAS FANTASTIC. I find the complaints over the movie absolutely moronic. It’s incredible how many people need to be hand fed their answers to everything. The lack of patience is a sign that information in today’s age moves so quickly that movie goers can’t stop to think that maybe there is more to the picture they’re looking at. I can’t wrap my head around why so many are so upset that Prometheus was widely open ended. Why did it have to explain anything to anyone? Did it promise that? Was there some sort message that went out that said, “come watch this movie and when it’s over you’ll never have another question for the rest of your life, in 2 hours we are going to explain to you the meaning of existence.” Honestly it’s ludicrous. This film is obviously setting course for something bigger. Which in itself is a metaphor for life and how expansive it is. With every answer we obtain about our existence we are presented with yet another. Prometheus is just a chapter in the story, easily connected to the Alien films if one simply realizes that fact. Simple fact the movie kicked butt on it’s own or as an installment in the series.

    • how did you miss that? they focused on it twice.

  4. I enjoyed the film as is. Why is it always the same thing over the Prometheus articles of being, what it should have been, or could have been, and what not?

    I can’t wait for the sequel.

  5. I really enjoyed the movie, however it took me a couple of watches on the blue ray. One time at the theater and twice on BR, really enhanced the experience. Going in my expectations were more of a true prequel rather than a stand alone movie. Once I had proper expectations in line for the movie, I enjoyed more.

    • I think the same can be said for The Amazing Spider Man. If you go into it thinking about the first trilogy, that mindset will get in the way of how you perceive the current movie. While nowhere near a “perfect” movie, TASM improved the character greatly over the Raimi version… for me, anyway.

      As was the case for Prometheus. While it has it’s flaws, any fan of sci-fi should like this movie. The fact that it’s the same director as Alien is even more impressive in my book. Just rid your mind of preconceived notions of what it should be (Alien prequel), and it’ll be an enjoyable experience.

      • There’s a big difference one is a sequel and the other is a prequel.

  6. I really liked the movie. I thought that it looked spectacular. However I am very much not a fan of Lindelof’s writing. I do hope that he does not have a hand in the sequel.

    • I think I read somewhere that he said he thinks the sequel would benefit from another writers approach. I guess that doesn’t mean he won’t come back but he just thinks someone else’s fresh ideas might be better.

  7. as other have mentioned, I think this is one of those films that definitely gains from repeated viewings.

    I saw it twice in the theatre (in two different languages, but still), and have watched it 3 or 4 times on BluRay.

    I love this film more every time I watch it.

    I rather enjoyed the “natural” sense of questions-without-answers. Too often, for me, films that tie up all loose ends nice and tidy in neat little packages, feel forced and unnatural. In that way, Prometheus felt considerably more “real” to me.

    • Plus, a movie like this, why tie up loose ends to please certain sections of the audience when you could have a sequel that explores more of it?

      Isn’t the point of a movie like this to not only entertain but also leave you wanting more? It’s like a great tv show, you don’t watch 24 or Homeland for an episode and then switch off, you invest your time in it and look forward to more of the same.

      I honestly think the people who complained about Prometheus are the types of people who spend money on crap like The Hangover and the thousands of American Pie movies in existence.

  8. I liked the final product of prometheus but I REALLY liked the draft of the first script and do think it would have made for a better more cohesive film! I DO think they made a mistake by cutting out all of the parts of the first script that tie this film in with aliens but they left all the confusing parts of the first draft, I PERSONALLY think that made the 2bd writer seem like a douche bag writer! DO THE WHOLE SCRIPT if you dont like the 1st draft, but dont mix and match that is just sh*tty and unprofessional IMO, the next film IF there is one because of the producers and the 2nd writers mistakes NEEDS to lead into the alien franchise a little bit more or it WILL flop

  9. What was to like about this film?

    If you have to reference a classic (Lawrence of Arabia) within a movie then the film is NOT a classic!

    Nowadays, producers want action, action, action at the cost of good story telling- prolly coz movies costs so much to make.. either way Ridley lost his balls on this one!

    Unfortunately, I will be drawn to go and see the next film … just to see if he made any improvements – I doubt it though!

    each to his own…

    • Agree, he’s been making 3 star movies for years now that only benefit from extended or directors cuts

  10. I loved Prometheus when I saw it at the cinema and couldn’t understand what peoples complaints were, that being said with most of Ridleys Scott’s movies they benefit greatly from having an extended release, so when I found that there was going to be one and the blu ray would only contain deleted scenes I was a little concerned

    After watching Prometheus twice now on blu ray I get where people are coming from, the movie needed to be at least another 45 minutes long to add more depth to it, more character development, more time for things to unfold. The movie wizzes along far too quickly, from the discovery on earth to space, to alien chamber and goo in like 30 minutes!! It all just feels rushed and actors like Idris Elba just feel wasted in their roles, Ridely Scott has really messed up not putting out a better cut as the deleted scenes give us nothing!

    • Actually I think the move would have been much better with some of the deleted scenes put back in. They explain some of the things that people had issue with (like why the guy plays with the alien snake, why the engineer at the beginning sacrifices himself, and why the engineer at the end was so mad).

  11. Engineers? You mean, like “Choo-Choo Charlie was an engineer…”!

  12. Just saw Prometheus, and thought it was pretty cool. But I would have rather seen a clear prequel with some continuity connections over this secret prequel that was near identical in story to Alien.

  13. i havent seen any of the deleted scenes, but i also felt like it was too rushed, and there were too many “just in the nick of time” saves. an extended version could definitely help flesh out the story/characters, but, all that minor stuff aside, i liked the film.
    for me, the most useless part of the story was why they had peter weyland be a hologram and then he’s actually on the ship. it just made no sense to me. hopefully the sequel will be better

  14. I was glued watching.
    I wanted to see everything, the engineers, xenomorphs all of it.
    Prometheus was awesome but it was so unfinished, & like it didn’t exactly fit into the engineer’s ship found in Alien, because well the ending wasn’t what lead to the Nostromo receiving a transmission from the engineers ship.
    But Prometheus gave room for other prequels to Alien because that couldn’t have been the only engineers science facility & there could’ve been other versions of the early xenomorphs.

    • There was no android head found in Alien, no engineer in the end of Prometheus that died piloting the engineer ship.
      It leaves much room for another prequel.

  15. It’s funny how everyone comes out after a project is done and talks about the great ideas that nobody ever saw. They will always be perfect as long as they don’t actually exist….

  16. I read the original script and I must say that I am glad they did change it for the movie! Many things in the original script were too much “Alienesque” and would have been regarded as “oh not again the usual Alien-Facehugger stuff”. That’s why I think they did a great job on changing a couple of things in Prometheus.
    BTW the so called “scientists” in the script are equally dumb (bahvaing) as those in the movie.
    If you have the time to read that script do it, it’s guite interesting to see what was changed etc.

  17. i dint get it, im sure that im not stupid, but this flick surely made me feel that way. what did it all mean, or maybe it didnt mean anything at all really, and thats what i fear the most, crap movie… if i can say so…

    • Have you seen Alien ?
      The first Alien movie ?

  18. I forgot, it even gives a couple of answers to questions not answered in Prometheus. Can’t wait for the sequel and where the story goes.

  19. I’m not sure why, maybe the advertising led me to think this, but i actually expected the film to be set on LV426, so i was surprised when they went to the planet and it was LV223 or something like that. I did think it was supposed to be a true prequel in that it led directly to the events of Alien, but i was wrong. It certainly allows more possibilities for whoever makes the next film.

    I agree that Prometheus would benefit greatly from a 3-4 hour cut, it was much too rushed. Elements of it were great, like David, and the design was impeccable, but Ridley Scott is not the film-maker he was and i feel he is coasting on past glories sadly. To be honest i thnk he was trying to recapture that when he came to this film.

    I would congratulate the studio for daring to suggest that the writers strip away some of the Alien stuff and really go for something original, it’s rare that such a request would be made by the studios. However, i think on the whole the film is a failure; the behaviour of certain characters, the constant jumping around of the story, things being resolved much too quickly, etc. A noble and interesting failure perhaps, but a failure nonetheless.

    I did watch the extended/cut scenes, which didn’t really add much.Now that i think about it, they detracted slightly from the film for me; one of the more interesting ideas, i thought, was that David betrayed his master (because of the way he’d mockingly dismissed him as not a real person, just an android)when they met the engineer by saying something that angered it. On the extended scene it seems David just translates what is said directly, and that’s why the engineer attacks. It was more interesting to me to believe that David deliberately makes the engineer kill Weyland for that perceived slight against him, but maybe i’ve attrubuted more weight to the film than it deserved.

  20. I enjoyed the film a great deal and am looking forward to the follow up immensely. I like the ambiguity of it as it made it more of a mystery than I thought it might have been seeing the trailers.

  21. I’ll admit that Prometheus had it’s problems but I wouldn’t say it was anywhere close to bad and also not the worst of the series. IMO that title belongs to Alien 4.

  22. Loved it, Was awesome and straight to the point, This is an origin story and was showing us the very D.N.A responsable for creating the ‘Alien’ !!!!, Why dont people get that???????, Did people really want another film of a Xenomorph chasing Siggy Weaver through more hallways and electrical conduits on a new ship ( ‘sister’ this time maybe as opposed to mother (Alien) or father (Alien Resurrection), Lets face it, After Alien 3 it was all down- hill for the franchise ( And im an ‘Alien 3′ fan, Love the film but not the writers who slapped the lovers of ‘Aliens’ in the face with the death of Newt and Hicks )!, Alien Resurrection is just unspeakable, Joss ( Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse, The Avengers ) Wheadons original script was dynamite but once he was off the script = 20th century fox (Darth) Mauled it to bits , Which brings us to the true horror of the series know as AVP, Paul WS Andersons attempt at a movie which in his own words ‘A poisoned chalice’ turned out to be bad, B-movie bad but no where near as bad as what followed in its wake, The god awfull AVP-R !!!!!!!=An attempt by the studio heads at 20th century fox studios to do an Alien Vs Predator movie in a cheap/cost effective method , That movie is just embarrasing to say the least and i cannot understand how we got there, Yea some of the sequels werent as great as the originals – Alien 3, Resurrection, Predator 2, Predators, Alien Vs Predator but AVP R is plain and simple retarded and idiotic, The brothers strausse should never be allowed on a film set again, Along with Shane Solerno the films writer anf yes – without being up my own backside i could do a better job before you ask ! SO
    Here we are back at the beginning with ‘Prometheus’ OR An origin story where we get a peek at the ‘Alien’s beginnings and how it fits into a much larger universe , How SOME people couldnt figure out the cylinders were prototype eggs or the protofacehugger is beyond me not to mention the jockeys body type to be the obvious Xenomorph physiology?????????just because there no Xenomorph in the film doesnt mean its not a prequel – it means this is some 30 years before and we havent got there yet , How do SOME folk not get that ????, We will get there im sure!
    Wow it seems to me that the so called fans are too busy bitching about a bunch of british bald prisoners on Fury or a huge floppy Jar Jar dreadlocked space rasta Predalien that they missed the point all- together, Just enjoy and shut up !

    • Glad at least someone understand the movie. lol it was how alien started. now they need just to continue with it. In the end it all leads up to Alien. Movie was excellent and did a great job of explaining everything if you watched closely. Now the alien needs to evolve and the story needs to eventually lead to Alien

  23. Prometheus wasn’t made for us fans – it was made for Ridley. When this kid of selfish directing occurs you have cinematic masturbation – much like Tarantino’s films after JB. Just garbage he wants to see…but in Tarantino’s case – oddly enough people like seeing him jizz all over the place.

  24. So after that, I think im gonna watch ‘Prometheus’ as its now got me in the mood, Oh wait, maybe they should of titled it ‘Alien 5′ but wait no!!! its got no Aliens in it which will really confuse em, Better name it Prometheus just so it doesnt confuse em !!!

  25. Any release release info on the sequel???

  26. Perhaps it’s just me but doesn’t it bother anyone else that there’s a size difference between the Jockey in ‘Alien’, check the picture at the top and the engineers in ‘Prometheus’? To me that’s just a clue there beating you over the head that something more is in store…

  27. Fact: the movie started out as an ALIEN PREQUEL. This is why the planet looks like LV426 but isn’t. This is why the Engineers’ juggernaut ship looks like the crashed one in Alien. This is why there’s a xenomorph hanging on the wall in cruciform of the canister chamber. This was to be an Alien prequel helmed by the man who made the original. For whatever reason, the producers/studio decided to remove any elements that tied the film directly to Alien but did so well into pre-production, which is why there are photos on the net of set pieces labeled “Magellan” rather than “Prometheus” and why we see xeno references everywhere. This production was on its way to be the movie we all expected – a true prequel explaining the setup of Alien, but at the latest possible second, they did a find-and-replace on the script to remove the narrative ties to the original (i.e. LV-426 becomes LV-223) perhaps to help make the film stand more on its own. Say what you will, but Prometheus is not a “great” movie. What ended up on the screen is a compromise at best. There are no deeper answers other than “the studio decided it had to be that way so that it wouldn’t be a prequel anymore.” Frankly, I would rather have not seen a release of this film at all, instead I would have gladly waited until the proper studio support could be collected in order to produce the film that Ridley originally set out to make – the one that explained why the friggin’ Space Jockey was on LV-426 to begin with. Remember? That’s why we were all excited in the first place!

    • I agree. Prometheus shouldnt have been changed. It was meant to be how aliens started and what happened before Alien. It still is in my mind how Aliens came to be. Now we need the rest of the story. hopefully they show how it becomes excactly like the current Alien. Promenthues should have never been a standalone as it was meant to be part of Alien series. If you are tired of Alien series (which in my mind is real dumb as all of them are excellent) then watch another horror movie

  28. All people who say i didnt understand it or it shouldnt be like Aliens are nuts. It was ridley scotts take on explaining how Aliens came to be. It showed the engineer ship that the first alien movie had in it and many other things if you look closely. As for the studio to change the planets name when we all know its the same planet as where Alien took place is moot.It still doesnt change a thing its still about the Alien franchise. Now they need to continue it and show how the alien becomes like the current alien. We saw the alien at the end now it needs to evolve. It they make it anything not related to the current alien then they shouldnt have made any part of the movie about aliens

  29. I was never a fan boy, but, I could not think of a movie i have seen which was worse without purposely being bad.

    I think toxic avengers was better

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