Alien: Alan Ladd's The Weekend Read

Leading from
Alan Ladd Jr

a) Alan Ladd's The Weekend Read  
Such were the changes made that Mr Wigan decided that the rewritten script was worthy of going into the Fox "weekend read", a process in which several scripts are read during the weekend by each of Fox's five top  production executives. 

When a script reaches this stage, a "go" or "no go" decision was usually made at a 9am Monday meeting in Mr Alan Ladd 's office.

b) The Picker
The soft spoken, 41 year old Alan Ladd had reaped both big money ($1.9 million last year) and critical plaudits for his movie gambles. 

After other studios turned it down, he decided to make "Star Wars," the biggest hit in movie history, which has earned $234 million in film rentals on a $9 million original investment. 

He also started a trend towards movies with women heroes by making such critically acclaimed and financially successful movies such as "Julia," "The Turning Point" and "An Unmarried Woman"
Garry Wigan

c) The Misses
But Alan Ladd has had his fare share of flops; the embarrassing Burt Reynolds musical "At long Last Love"; the ill-fated G-rated family film "The Blue Bird" starring Elizabeth Taylor , and director Robert Altman's bleak drama "Quintet" among others. 

Still, he was battling average as a picker of hits was good. 

He thought of himself as a creative "midwife". 

As a studio head, he needed the ability to size up the potential of a script or idea, then try to assemble the best creative talent for executing the idea and making sure that the project comes off as envisioned.

d) The Collective
However, in the Weekend Read, he didn't make the decision all by himself, he relied on the collective instinct of the group, three men and two women. 

No formal vote would be taken, each member of the group would give his view while he tried to refrain from expressing any firm conclusions that might impede the free flow of the ideas too soon. 

The process could go on for hours. 

The script's storyline and main characters were analyzed and debated; possible directors, actors and actresses are discussed

e) Comparison to Psycho  
When Alan received the screenplay and read it, he thought it was an interesting nice horror picture.   

Parts of the script reminded Alan Ladd of the fear he felt when he was watching the shower scene in "Psycho," Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller, particularly the scene where actress Janet Leigh is stabbed to death by an insane killer taking a shower; the audience feels the terror but never sees the knife plunge into the actress. 

Mr Ladd believed that movie audiences will respond to the terror of "Alien" the same way that audiences reacted to "Psycho" in 1960. "

f) Final Decision
At the end of the February 1977 meeting, Mr. Ladd made his decision: Fox would make "Alien"- contingent on getting the right director and on a significant reworking of the script.

'What we're buying, " he said, "was a concept - not the words of a highly literate script like 'Julia.' ", 

The initial decision that eventually led to a $15 million gamble by Fox was made on the basis of what Mr. Ladd calls "a gut instincts.

It was based on his intuition and experience.


Jay Kanter, once an agent to Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe, has 
worked with Laddie since the 1960s–rare Hollywood loyalty which 
speaks volumes to the tremendous character of both legendary figures.
Source quotes
  1. Mr Wigan decided that the rewritten script was worthy of going into the Fox "weekend read," a process in which several scripts are read during the weekend by each of Fox's five top production executives. When a script reaches this stage, a "go" or "no go" decision is usually made at a 9 a.m. Monday meeting in Mr Ladd's office. (The Wall Street Journal)   
  2. Introducing Alan Ladd. The soft spoken, 41 year old Mr Ladd has reaped both big money ($1.9 million last year) and critical plaudits for his movie gambles. After other studios turned it down, Mr Ladd decided to make "Star Wars," the biggest hit in movie history, which has earned $234 million in film rentals on a $9 million original investment. He also started a trend towards movies with women heroes by making such critically acclaimed and financially successful movies such as "Julia," "The Turning Point" and "An Unmarried Woman" (The Wall Street Journal)
  3. But Mr Ladd has had his fare share of flops; the embarrassing Burt Reynolds musical "At long Last Love"; the ill-fated G-rated family film "The Blue Bird" starring Elizabeth Taylor , and director Robert Altman's bleak drama "Quintet" among others. (The Wall Street Journal)
  4. Still, Mr Ladd's battling average as a picker of hits is good. He doesn't think up movie ideas himself but thinks of himself as a creative "midwife". As a studio head, he needs the ability to size up the potential of a script or idea. Then he tries to assemble the best creative talent for executing the idea and making sure that the project comes off as envisioned. (The Wall Street Journal)
  5. The idea for "Alien" for example, first came to Fox in a script by 39 year old screenwriter named  Dan O'Bannon who was fascinated with science fiction. Gareth Wigan, Fox's vice president for world wide production, turned down O'Bannon's original script because "it was gratuitously violent. (The Wall Street Journal)
  6. Mr Ladd doesn't make the decision all by himself. He relies of the collective instinct of the group" - three men and two women. No formal vote is taken; each member of the group gives his view while Mr. Ladd tries to refrain from expressing any firm conclusions that might impede the free flow of ideas too soon. The process can go on for hours. The script's story line and main characters are analyzed and debated; possible directors, actors and actresses are discussed. (The Wall Street Journal) 
  7. Parts of the script reminded Mr Ladd of the fear he felt while watching the shower scene in "Psycho," Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller. This is the scene where actress Janet Leigh is stabbed to death by an insane killer taking a shower; the audience feels the terror but never sees the knife plunge into the actress. Mr Ladd believes that movie audiences will respond to the terror of "Alien" the same way that audiences reacted to "Psycho" in 1960. "Basic emotions are the same, "he says. "They haven't changed in 50 years." (The Wall Street Journal)
  8. Reflects a Strength. The comparison with "Psycho" reflects one of Ladd's strengths; He is widely regarded in Hollywood when he was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s. Mr Ladd says be became "Obsessed" with movies at an early age, going to four or five pictures every weekend and skipping school during the week to see other movies. (The Wall Street Journal)
  9.  At the end of the February 1977 meeting, Mr. Ladd made his decision: Fox would make "Alien"- contingent on getting the right director and on a significant reworking of the script. 'What we're buying, " he says, "was a concept - not the words of a highly literate script like 'Julia.' ", the initial decision that eventually led to a $15 million gamble by Fox was made on the basis of what Mr. Ladd calls "a gut instincts."  (The Wall Street Journal)
  10. "It's based on my intuition and experience. There's no way to put it on a chart or graph or formulate it. The Harvard business school approach doesn't work," says Mr. Ladd, who was a business-administration major at the University of Southern California before he left school in his senior year to become an agent and get married. (The Wall Street Journal) 

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