In this age of big-screen blockbusters with nine-figure budgets, it’s refreshing to look back at a movie like 1979’s Alien. Though it had the look of a sci-fi epic, thanks to the innovative work of director Ridley Scott (making just his second feature film), it was shot for just $11 million. By comparison, Apocalyse Now, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Steven Spielberg’s 1941 and the James Bond film Moonraker all had budgets bigger than $30 million that year. But Scott put every penny on the screen and, armed with a solid script and an excellent cast (led by Sigourney Weaver, in her first starring role), the film was a huge hit. While it’s now considered a classic, Scott says his aspirations at the time weren’t nearly as high. In fact, he thought of it as a “B movie.”
Scott is back at the helm of the latest installment of what is now the Alien franchise. Alien: Covenant, starring Michael Fassbender and Katherine Waterston, is in theaters now.