Ridley Scott talks about the 'Alien' prequels and shooting in 3D
Earlier today, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe sat for an eight-person roundtable during the Los Angeles press day for "Robin Hood," and before the press conference began, the famed director sat and chatted about his recovery from recent knee surgery and how glad he is to not be shooting while he's still on the mend. Crowe was running a few minutes behind him, so talk turned to what Scott might be up to next, with many of us guessing that we knew for sure what his next film would be.
He didn't even make us ask. He just shrugged. "Alien. Yeah. We're doing that now. We've got a fourth draft, which is pretty good."
We asked him if he was going to considering shooting it in 3D, since most event movies at least have that conversation now. "Of course," he replied. "It will be in 3D." Can't really ask for a more direct confirmation than that. He talked about how the cameras he'll be using are already "moved beyond" what James Cameron used on his monster hit "Avatar," and how it will be easier for him as a result. "It took them four years [on "Avatar"], but now we can do it in two."
One of the rumors we heard at the end of last year was that Scott considered retrofitting "Robin Hood" into 3D before releasing it. "I could have squeezed it in under the hammer," he said, but decided against it. I asked him if it made more sense to compose the images in 3D originally. "It's not a big deal," he answered, surprising me. "People always agonize over whether something's 1.85 or 2.35, and I don't really give a sh*t." Even so, I asked him if shooting 3D makes sense with an "Alien" movie, since they're so dark, traditionally, and with 3D, you need as much light as possible on something to shoot it and give it a real sense of depth. "You'll have to grade it later," he conceded. "You'll have to grit your teeth and light it not the way you'd like it, and then later, regrade it. Repaint it, basically. When you think about it, 'Avatar' is almost completely an animated movie."
He was asked if he thought modern audiences would accept a film that was paced like his first "Alien" movie these days, and he seemed surprised by the question. "I think it'll work. Don't you?" When pressed on the point, he said, "Would things move faster today? Yeah. I had no technology at all. I had no digital technology at all. The movies that followed us in the series, they all had tech. But I had no computers at all. 'Alien' was all physical. Even the spaceship, which was about the size of this table. You'd just hang it from a wire and the camera would push in underneath... I was the operator on it myself. You'd try to keep it steady with this fan and all this dry ice blowing to give some sense of movement. That was it. And it worked pretty good, actually."
We asked him if he would want to reconfigure any of his older films in 3D, like "Blade Runner," and he said it seemed like a waste of time to him. "I'd rather save that energy for something new."
At that point, Crowe joined us, and when he heard what we were talking about, he said he could imagine a new theatrical life for "Gladiator" in 3D.
Mr. Scott seemed unconvinced.
Just as we were leaving, at the end of our "Robin Hood" Q&A, we mentioned again to him how we were curious to see what sort of prequel he might put together for "Alien," and he corrected us. "Prequels. Two films." He won't shoot them back-to-back, evidently, but they're developing two films that will build to the events of the first "Alien," and hoping to shoot the first one later this year.
We'll have more from the "Robin Hood" press day counting down in the days before the film's release on May 14, right here at HitFix.
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