Photo courtesy of Steam Pirate
When a lowercase l and an i are placed together, they look like ll to me.
This has always been a problem for me.
For example, whenever I write a letter to my son, Philip, who is away at college, I have to look up the name on the internet, because I can never remember if it has two i‘s, two ll‘s, or some other combination.
Likewise, two uppercase I‘s look a lot like two exclamation points.
II = !!
It’s an honest mistake. I mean, “roman numerals”? When do you even see those, except on a movie poster? I produce movies, by the way.
And it wasn’t until about twenty minutes before filming was supposed to begin that I realized I was producing a movie called Alien vs. Predator II.
That damn lowercase l running up against a lowercase i.
Those damn roman numerals.
I thought we were making a movie called Allen vs. Predator !!.
In fact, the enthusiastic title is what drew me to the project in the first place.
I would presume that the plot of such a straightforwardly titled movie would be that a guy named Allen who fights some kind of predator and it gets everybody all keyed up. Now, my obvious misreading of the title would have become evident upon reading of the screenplay. Except I don’t read screenplays; I’m far too busy for that. Nor is it necessary. You see, I’m a studio executive, and I’ve got a system.
I’m a titles man. Titles say everything you need to know about a project. Titles are truth. As such, titles are infallible and cannot be changed.
All I need to do is go with the feeling I get in my gut when I read the name of a movie on the title page that’s stapled on top of the script. However, once in a while, I hear a title in a voicemail. Or, a title might hit me in the middle of the night, and I’ll wake up and write it down, bring it to work in the morning, and make some billion-grossing Hollywood magic.
But this isn’t the story of Lucky Number Slevin.
So, when the script title page for Allen vs. Predator !! came across the transom, it excited me to my very core. All the way down to my gut. It was probably because of the exclamation points. Or it might have been because of the Allen. Now that’s a word. A word I know. A name, even. A famous name. Ever hear of Allen Einstein? Allen and the Chipmunks? President Allen Jackson? It’s a name of greatness, a name of surefire-can’t miss-bonafide-hits. A name for America, by America.
So I greenlit the thing, earmarked a $240 budget, and built a soundstage or whatever and hired a director. Some German guy I think. French maybe?
Only now I find out, when I see the thing printed large on a banner outside the studio, where you can much, much more clearly delineate between letters, that I just spent a quarter of a billion dollars on a movie called ALIEN vs. Predator II.
What the hell is an alien?
Who even uses that word? Audiences hate huge, obscure words. It’s such a rancid word that I had to look it up, in one of those word-books, which, thanks to an encyclopedia, I found out was called a “dictionary.”
Like I said, you can never tell what audiences are going to like, and sometimes it’s a crapshoot and you just throw something out there and you see what sticks. And while Allen vs. Predator !! would have been something to behold, the marketplace was apparently ripe for a movie in which a space alien fights some kind of space monster. Alien vs. Predator II was a smash! Who knew?
Still, I would have changed some things. While the cast did a great job, if I could do it all over again, I’d have gotten somebody else to play the predator. That guy from Betsy’s Wedding, the incomparable Alien Alda.