Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. It is the first film in what became a large Alien franchise. The film's title refers to a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature that stalks and attacks the crew of a spaceship. Dan O'Bannon, drawing upon previous works of science fiction and horror, wrote the screenplay from a story he co-authored with Ronald Shusett. The film was produced by Gordon Carroll, David Giler and Walter Hill through their company Brandywine Productions, and was distributed by 20th Century Fox. Giler and Hill revised and made additions to the script; Shusett was executive producer. The eponymous Alien and its accompanying elements were designed by the Swiss artist H. R. Giger, while concept artists Ron Cobb and Chris Foss designed the more human aspects of the film.
Alien was released on May 25, 1979 in the United States and September 6 in the United Kingdom. It was met with critical acclaim and found box office success, winning the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, three Saturn Awards (Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction for Scott, and Best Supporting Actress for Cartwright), and a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, along with numerous other nominations. It has been consistently praised in the years since its release, and is considered one of the greatest films of all time. In 2002, Alien was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. In 2008, it was ranked by the American Film Institute as the seventh-best film in the science fiction genre, and as the thirty-third greatest film of all time by Empire magazine.
The success of Alien spawned a media franchise of novels, comic books, video games, and toys. It also launched Weaver's acting career, providing her with her first lead role. The story of her character Ellen Ripley's encounters with the Alien creatures became the thematic and narrative core of the sequels Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992) and Alien Resurrection (1997). A crossover with the Predator franchise produced the Alien vs. Predator films, which includes Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007). A prequel series includes Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017).