Alien vs. Predator began as a comic-book series in 1989 and then a video-game series in the 1990s. The movie franchise began in 2004. The conflict between the two alien species—the super-hunters called Predators and the aliens which may be their most challenging prey—runs parallel to the conflict between Weyland Industries, headed by Charles Bishop Weyland, and the Yutani Corporation headed by Ms. Yutani. Eventually they merge into the Weyland-Yutani Corporation that leads us to interstellar space.
The first Alien vs. Predator story was published by Dark Horse Comics in Dark Horse Presents #34 to #36 (Nov. 1989-Feb. 1990). When the film Predator 2 was released in 1990, the skull of an Alien was a trophy aboard the Predator ship, much to the delight of fans. A film crossover was considered but held up for almost a decade until Paul W.S. Anderson helmed Alien vs. Predator in 2004. Lance Hendriksen played the android Bishop and the human billionaire Charles Bishop Weyland in Alien and Alien 3. The robot had the face of the company founder. Weyland himself discovered the pyramid in which the conflict of Alien vs. Predator took place on an island near Antarctica. The series is like the SF trope in many movies where two monsters battle while human beings try to survive at their feet.
In the film, in 2004, a satellite detects heat emissions beneath Bouvetoya Island a thousand miles off the coast of Antarctica, where industrialist Charles Weyland (Lance Henriksen) discovers a pyramid buried 2000 feet beneath the ice. To claim it for his company, he gathers a team of linguistics experts, archaeologists, drillers, mercenaries, and a guide named Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan). A Predator ship in Earth orbit fires an energy beam at the site, and the investigators at an abandoned whaling station find a perfectly circular tunnel through the ice. They descend to the mysterious pyramid below and find evidence of a prehistoric civilization and a sacrificial chamber filled with human skeletons, all with ruptured ribcages.
Three Predators—Scar, Celtic, and Chopper—arrive and kill everyone on the surface. They descend the tunnel and arrive as the unlucky humans activate the structure. The Alien Queen awakes from cryogenic stasis and lays eggs. Facehuggers hatch and attach themselves to the humans trapped in the chamber. Chest-bursters emerge and grow quickly into Xenomorphs. Battle takes place among Predators, Xenomorphs, and humans. Celtic and Chopper are killed by a Xenomorph and Weyland gives his life to buy Alexa and archaeologists Sebastian De Rosa (Raoul Bova) enough time to escape from Scar.
The two survivors see Scar kill a facehugger and a Xenomorph with a Shuriken blade before unmasking and blooding himself. But Scar is attacked by another facehugger as his mask is down. From the hieroglyphics, the couple learn that the Predators have been hunting on Earth for thousands of years, teaching humans how to build pyramids and worshipping them as gods. The heat bloom at the island was to attract humans to help produce Xenomorphs for the hunt.
Alexa and Sebastian decide that the Xenomorphs must not be allowed to escape to the surface, so the Predators must be allowed to kill them all. Sebastian is captured and Scar uses parts of a dead Xenomorph to create weapons for Alexa. The Alien Queen pursues them both. Scar uses a bomb in his wrist module to destroy the pyramid and all the Xenomorphs and eggs. Lex and Scar reach the surface, still pursued by the Queen. They manage to kill the Queen, but Scar is mortally mounded. He marks Lex with the Xenomorph blood. A Predator ship uncloaks, and Predators appear. They recover their companion’s body and present Alexa with a spear as a gift. The Predators’ ship takes off with Scar’s body, but a chestburster with both Alien and Predator traits erupts from the body.
Tom Woodruff Jr. plays the Alien named Grid. Ian White plays Scar and all the other Predators. Neither the Alien producers nor the Predator producers were interested in the crossover film. But screenwriter Peter Briggs pitched it to 20th Century Fox, based on the popularity of the comic book. Ronald Shusett and prolific TV-writer Dan O’Bannon received credit for writing the screenplay. Much of it was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s novella At the Mountains of Madness. Sanaa Lathan was hired to play Alexa because she was similar, yet different from Ellen Ripley. Arnold Schwarzenegger was willing to appear in a short cameo in the denouement, but he was elected Governor of California and was too busy. The technicians who discover the heat-bloom are played by special-effects designers Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis.
Sets were built in Prague because they cost 2 million there instead of 20 million. One good choice: They used third scale miniatures seven meters in height instead of CGI, and hydraulic Alien puppets instead of actors in suits for the Aliens. They needed six people to run the puppets, but their movements were recorded on computers so they could be repeated perfectly. It took 12 people to run the Queen. She had twice as many moving parts as the Jurassic Park T-Rex. Austrian composer Harald Kloser was hired to do the score based on his work for The Day After Tomorrow. In 1979, a strange light was detected near the island of Bouvetoya and has never been explained, but the incident was used in the movie. The Morse code message at the beginning of the film reads, “Whoever wins, we lose,”—the tagline of the movie. Two buckets of slime were kept on set at all times.