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I think part of the reason people reacted so badly to Alien 3 (quite apart from the fact the final release got mangled by the studio) was because the tone of the film was so dramatically different to the other two movies. A penal planet populated by rapists, murderers and thieves is a tough sell.
But before Fincher came in, Alien 3 was set on ‘a religious colony that had escaped the earth and inhabited an abandoned commercial facility deep in space’ who ‘had adopted a Medieval way of life, without electricity or modern technology’.
Now, that would have been a much tougher sell.
Regardless of how you feel about Alien 3 it’s hard to look at these concept drawings and not feel sad about what could have been.