Outer Space Chic has landed in a big way:
The unheralded "Alien Nation," an extraterrestrial-earthling buddy picture, won the box-office crown in its first week of release earlier this month--and has become a modest hit, making about $20 million in three weeks of release.
Director John Carpenter also returns, this time with "They Live," an outer-space invasion thriller opening Thursday that portrays the Reagan Revolution as an alien plot against the United States.
TV has also hopped on the bandwagon. "UFO Cover Up: Live," a two-hour quasi-documentary that aired Oct. 14, generated tens of thousands of phone calls from people saying they'd seen unidentified flying objects.
"War of the Worlds," a syndicated series based on H.G. Wells' epic novel, is running on 190 stations around the country (it airs here Saturday at 9 p.m. on KCOP-TV).
NBC-TV's alien entry is "Something's Out There," which airs Friday nights and features a cop with a gorgeous extraterrestrial partner.
And KCET's "California Stories" series will air a "Saucers" special Nov. 21, spotlighting visits with area groups that claim to have been contacted by UFOs.
Meanwhile, Hollywood's production machinery is in full gear. Later in November, "Cocoon: The Return" will hit the theaters, followed by "My Stepmother Is an Alien," a romantic comedy starring Kim Basinger and Dan Aykroyd due Dec. 9. Due in February is another alien-invader spoof, director Julien Temple's "Earth Girls Are Easy."
There are also three invader-abduction films on the boards. "Communion," an independently financed project that stars Christopher Walken, just finished shooting. 20th Century Fox is making "Intruders," a film based on an abduction chronicle written by UFO expert Bud Hopkins. And Wizan Film Properties is developing "Fire in the Sky," another script based on a real-life abduction that was written by Tracy Torme, a creative consultant at "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
Several invader comedies are already shooting in L.A. "Martians Go Home" co-stars Randy Quaid and Anita Morris in a comedy about how Earthlings' react to an invasion by a billion obnoxious green tourists. "Martians!!!," from Smart Egg Releasing, features a brigade of invaders who devise a brilliant cover for their attack on Earth--they launch their invasion on the anniversary of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" broadcast, figuring the public would dismiss news reports about a real invasion.