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How AvP Saved Predator (But Possibly Killed Alien)

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The Predator brings the ugly motherf*cker back to the big screen with a whole host of new creatures - an Ultimate Predator variant and ferocious hell hounds - although long-standing fans may notice he's not joined by one long-standing companion: the xenomorph from the Alien series. For almost three decades, the Alien and Predator franchises have been intrinsically linked, their movie directions almost running in parallel, although the long-standing impact may be very different.

On paper, the two series share only a broad sci-fi set up and a studio. Alien was a horror movie set on a spaceship with a used/phallic aesthetic. Predator was an actioner spearing the macho cliches of the 1980s involving a space hunter. While Aliens brought the action to the former series, neither had an intrinsic link. As such, it's rather unsurprising the whole thing kicked off in comics. In 1989, Dark Horse had the idea of pitting the ultimate hunter against the perfect organism, starting a multimedia franchise that blew up into novels, games and much, much more. And what was so amazing about Alien vs. Predator was that while it was an obvious cash-in crossover, whenever the two met it was made to work within the confines of both franchise's simultaneously, making it instantly accessible to the geek target market.

Related: Arnold Schwartzenegger Almost Returned for Alien vs. Predator

The eventual movies were less well-received. Arriving long after both main series had petered out and hot on the heels of fellow horror crossover Freddy vs. JasonAlien vs. Predator in 2004 and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem in 2007 are widely viewed as the low-points for both franchises. And yet, despite the team-up being a typical death-knell (both A Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday the 13th had to do a complete reboot after FvJ), the two series soldiered on. But because of or in spite of AvP? We'll find out here.

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Predator 2 Had The First Alien Crossover In 1990

In what is possibly the greatest Easter egg of all time, 1990s Predator 2 marked the first cinematic crossover between the Alien and Predator franchises. The sequel, set in a near-future L.A. torn apart by gang warfare, saw Danny Glover's cop hunting down a City Hunter, eventually finding himself in the Predator's ship. This gave audiences their first close-up look at Yautja interior decoration, and a taste of the non-human creatures they hunted.

Pride of place in the display is what was quite clearly a xenomorph skull, its Giger-inspired shape hilariously recreated. The other skulls have never been verified, although it's been speculated that some were pulled for later films: the one on the right is close to the "River Ghost" from Predators, while the other human skull is about the right size to be an Engineer from the Alien prequels. What was important at the time, though, was the confirmation that the two series could exist in the same world, with the Predators hunting Aliens.

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Of course, this wasn't the first time the franchise's had crossed over - Dark Horse had started publishing its comic run the year before - but it was the first time Fox had teased it in the movies. And so the seed was planted.

Related: Alien & Covenant Movie Series Timeline Explained

Alien vs. Predator Killed Both Franchises (Twice)

The Alien vs. Predator comics and games - as well as other crossovers with everyone from Batman to Terminator - proved immensely popular in the early-to-mid 1990s, and it didn't take long for a movie proposition to come along. A script was in development as early as 1992, with the promise returned to throughout the decade. However, solo movies kept getting in the way, mainly on the considerably more successful Alien side: Alien: Resurrection hit in 1997, and was going to be followed up by a return of James Cameron and Ridley Scott as writer and director respectively on an Alien 5 that would delve into the space jockeys and the xenomorph's origins. Predator 3 was also in the works with a script focusing on a group of marines transported to a far-off Predator hunting planet, although it was less far along. If they sound familiar, they should - but we'll come back to that.

In the end, it took a clear creative vision to get Alien vs. Predator out of development hell and prioritized over the other plans. That idea, bizarrely, came from Paul W.S. Anderson, who distilled the idea of the comics into a story that slotted into both franchises and essentially paused the prior, standalone efforts. But while he stopped two standalone movies aiming to deepen their own lore, Anderson didn't skimp in deepening the mythology of either series. In AvP, we learned of long-standing, intertwined history between the pyramid-building Predators and early human society while also seeing the soon-to-be-nefarious Weyland Corporation's first run-in with extra-terrestrial life (with Lance Henriksen "reprising" his role as original founder Charles Bishop Weyland).

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But, as much as Anderson was a fan, his film wasn't exactly up to the task. Alien vs. Predator was a high-profile release and mild box office success yet did little to appeal to critics, non-teenage audiences nor fans of either parent series. Things were worse with direct sequel Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, which lost much of the affection and delivered a dimly-lit, modern-day slasher (with its only mythological addition being the big screen debut of Ms. Yutani, whose company would eventually partner with Weyland's). A third AvP movie was long-mooted, but slowly it became clear that interest wasn't there on a studio or fan side.

In the end, AvP tanked both series twice: it stopped genuinely intriguing ideas to force a team-up, only for that to end up so disastrous it tapered off. But then Fox did something that oh-so rarely happens in Hollywood - they went backwards.

Page 2: How AvP Made Predator Relevant

Key Release Dates
  • The Predator (2018) release date: Sep 14, 2018
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