PROMETHEUS Screenwriter Jon Spaihts Confirms Earlier Script for ALIEN: ENGINEERS, Plus Changes from Script to Screen

     November 12, 2012


Love it or hate it, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus certainly got people talking. The “prequel” with “Alien DNA” was penned by two screenwriters: Jon Spaihts (The Darkest Hour) and Damon Lindelof (Cowboys & Aliens), in addition to the original conception of the franchise elements from Ronald Shusett and the late Dan O’Bannon.  After five drafts by Spaihts, Lindelof was brought in to balance the story and to expand on character relationships and mythology, but to leave the characters and the narrative structure in place. What resulted was a bit of a mess, in my opinion. But now, Spaihts’ original script, titled Alien: Engineers, is available for the readin’! Hit the jump to see where you can find it and for a summary of some of the major changes that occurred from script to screen.

prometheus-engineer-imageSpaiths recently spoke about the scenes left unseen from his original script, including the greater prevalence of the xenomorphs and a different version of the MedPod scene. The writer himself confirmed the authenticity of the Alien: Engineers script that popped up over the weekend via his Twitter account. You can read the full 118-page script here, and/or check out the differences in brief below:

  • Spaihts’ version involved an underwater sequence where the Earth-bound scientists discovered the star map with the use of submarines in a sunken Mediterranean city.
  • When pitching the exploratory mission to Weyland, Spaihts had alternate versions taking place aboard a space station and Weyland’s home on Mars, which was in the process of being terraformed.
  • Spaihts tries to explain away the idiocy of the scientists Milburn (Rafe Spall) and Fifield (Sean Harris), saying it was more due to editing, since they cut an earlier scene of Milburn becoming ecstatic over the discovery of a harmless alien life form: “It really showed how excited Milburn was by experiencing any extra-terrestrial, sophisticated life. That sort of explains why he’s acting like a complete utter moron here. The last thing you do when you see a snake in the wild is get your face really close to it and start smiling and extending your hand like you wanna pet it.”
  • Scott himself had the idea for ramming one spaceship into another and it was Spaihts’ job to make that work in the narrative.
  • Spaihts can claim the credit for the MedPod scene and Shaw’s impregnation, for better or worse.

Thanks to The Playlist for putting together a nice wrap-up of the major differences between  Spaihts’ script and the Lindelof contributions. Be sure to check out the full article here. There are more differences to be found at this AVP Galaxy forum.


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  • I read it

    He can take credit for the med-pod scene and Shaw’s impregnation — HOWEVER — he was NOT the one who made it so pointlessly say that is was calibrated for men only. That was not in the draft.

    • Spencer

      Pod scene was WAY WAY WAY more awesome in the early script and made sense.


    Wish they made this movie instead

  • tarek

    Prometheus will become a classic movie as time goes by.

    • bubba

      No it wont because there really was nothing special about it. The only thing that will keep people paying attention to it is the association with Alien. As the years go by and newer films come out with newer special effects this movie will be reduced to a footnote to the original Alien flick.

  • Sedna

    Whatever is said about the writers or who did what, and who is to blame you cannot say, with a straight face, that spaihts didn’t feel apprehensive about lindelof being brought on… It shows in every interview of them both or individually, in footage form or written form, commentary, featurette, you name it. Spats didn’t want Lindelofs involvement, but he took it like a gentleman though, still it shows. Resentment is there, that’s why he upped the original script online so he can distance himself from the changes lindelof made. It’s all fairly obvious

    • Nullify

      And you can’t really blame him, since his treatment was miles better than that hack’s. Seriously, why would you bring in the guy that wrote Cowboys & Aliens?

  • Lance

    I really liked Spaihts’ contribution to the bluray commentary. Both he and Lindelof convey they understand people’s criticisms of the movie. In some cases scenes got edited out that would explain characters’ behavior. In other cases you get the sense things happened because that’s how Ridley wanted them, and he couldn’t be convinced otherwise.

    In fact, in his own commentary Ridley grouses quite a bit about an unnamed person or persons who didn’t like his idea for the flying “pups” sensors. Made me wonder if Lindelof got brought on because maybe Spaihts really pushed against it, but I can’t say there’s any real evidence of that as far as I can tell.

    The movie is one of the best films of the summer, there’s no denying it and as time passes the criticisms will look like even smaller, petttier stuff than they do now. That said, ALIEN:ENGINEERS is an awful, awful title. Lindelof came up with the idea of calling the movie PROMETHEUS, and that was a good move, whatever his detractors say.

    • Alan

      “Lindelof came up with the idea of calling the movie PROMETHEUS, and that was a good move, whatever his detractors say.” That was Tom Rothman’s idea, according to Scott: “But then with Prometheus – which I thought was bloody well intellectual – that wasn’t my idea. It was Fox’s notion, It came from Tom Rothman, who’s a smart fellow. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a good idea.”. As for being “one of the best films of the summer”, there is a lot to counter that, actually.

      • Lance

        I recall Lindelof taking credit for the name in his commentary. But I think the ship had already been named by the time he came on, he just decided to call the movie the same thing. (Or maybe it was the other way around?) Anyway, I could see how maybe Rothman came up with the name for the ship, and others ran with it for the movie title.

        The movie is wonderful and all the small ball complaints have already been brought up and most have been slapped down. Prometheus is no more flawed than Blade Runner, and Blade Runner’s a classic.

  • Ryan

    ok first off spaihts wrote a spec called SHADOW 19 which got him noticed by rIDLEY… in that spec is a ship called the PROMETHEUS- so technically it came from Spaihts himself

  • Voc007

    Everything I’ve read makes it sound like the film Prometheus should have been. What we got in the cinemas is something that fails on every level except the outstanding visuals. The choices are baffling and unsatisfying. I could be wrong, but I think it would probably have been heartbreaking for Spaihts to see his script become what it did. Anyone who’s read Spaihts’ PASSENGERS can see the guy can write. I cannot wait to read this script tonight.

    • sedna

      agreed, I read both Passengers and Shadow 19 in one sitting – the guy is just a wonderfully gifted sci-fi writer.

      • Voc007

        Just finished reading ALIEN: ENGINEERS and wow. It’s a great read and seriously almost brings a tear to my eye that we didn’t see it on screen. Everything that is missing from PROMETHEUS like character, proper set up and pay off, plot and just general common sense is here. And it’s an awesome Alien prequel.
        For some reason I didn’t even realise SHADOW 19 was available to read – thanks heaps for mentioning it sedna – I just grabbed it! :)

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  • Brandon Heat 07

    Damn, FOX took it down, before I could download Spaihts script…

  • Pingback: Read Damon Lindelof’s Draft of the PROMETHEUS Script | Collider()

  • BellyAndWalter

    Fox took it down people, anyone knows where to get it?

  • Spencer

    Spaiht’s version had a lot of bad science in it, but was a better script by far. The characters made sense. there was a clear sense of progression and causality. The planet was the same as in the original movie. The scenes all worked for the most part. The movie was butchered. The only faults of this script are the geological timelines of the ice ages, cheese romance, not understanding how eyeballs work, that people can’t run with severed abdominal muscles moments after surgery, and that the mega xeno died WAY to easily. That sounds like a lot, but these things were fixable. Move the terraforming timeline back, more banter between the couples, analyse the eye and visual cortex of the Engineer head and set pre-existing goggles to see the same spectrums of light, use a abdomin bracing semi-mechanical girdle after a surgury so you can sprint like a triathalon, show her in a lot more pain, and make Vickers live to die in the fight against the mega alien with our fools in military suits with bigger guns. Really, the squishy one was deadlier than the MEGA alien. The end was rushed. I am sad that Prometheus made it into production in such a haphazard state. The original script was easily 3 times better.