The movie poster for the movie Aliens.

The Business of Art – The Alien Movie Universe

The Alien movies have been big business for Twentieth Century Fox (the copyright holder of all four Alien movies), the actors (Sigourney Weaver), and the directors.

The movie Alien spawned an entire universe of movies, of thought, of art for people to engage with. That universe has meant big bucks for a lot of people. It’s also meant that certain actors who may not have ever been considered as talented had an outlet to strut their stuff. The world of Alien, the art of the Alien universe, opened up many people’s worlds.

It’s been big for a lot of people.

Onto business…

As of right now, the four Alien movies (see below) have a combined US gross of $272 million dollars. That’s two hundred and seventy two million… That number is most likely under reported by Hollywood, doesn’t include revenues outside the US, and is not adjusted for inflation… and yet it’s still huge.

The Alien movie universe took in nearly $300 million dollars. That is big business. And this is just the movies. That big fat number also doesn’t include the licensing revenues, the revenues from advertising, the revenues from playing on TV, or the revenues from the separate Alien & Predator universe.

Are you beginning to see just how huge of a business the Alien universe is?

From there you need to understand that the Alien universe is a niche universe. It’s not actually that popular. It has nothing on the likes of the Marvel universe in terms of number of people engaging with it or in the terms of money. It’s an itty bitty part of the business of movies, let alone art as a whole.
Yet, that itty bitty part is astoundingly big.

It’s shocking really, just how big the business of art really is.


Now for some numbers…


The average gross for the Alien movies was $68 million.

The average budget was about $42 million.

The highest return on investment was on the first movie Alien, which had an ROI of over 760%.

The budget for all four movies combined was $168 million.

The gross for all four movies combined was $272 million.

Assuming an average 20% tax rate, the Alien movie universe would’ve contributed about $54 million in taxes.


Alien (1979)

Movie poster for the movie "Alien"

Budget: ~ $11,000,000

Gross: $83,944,003 USA


Aliens (1986)

The movie poster for the movie Aliens.

Budget: ~ $18,500,000
Gross: $85,200,000 USA


Alien 3 (1992) *

The movie poster for the movie Alien 3

Budget: ~ $63,000,000
Gross: $55,473,600 USA



Alien Resurrection (1997) *

The movie poster for Alien Resurrection

Budget: ~ $75,000,000

Opening Weekend: $16,474,092 USA

Gross: $47,748,610 USA


* I believe that the numbers are fudged to a much larger extent for this film than the others to create a “loss”. I honestly don’t trust the numbers for Alien 3 or Alien Resurrection. Despite both movies not doing well, I think they did better than reported.

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The Business of Art – The Alien Movie Universe by Jordan Wunderlich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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