In an interview, Director Paul W.S. Anderson said that Arnold Schwarzenegger offered to reprise his role as Dutch Schaeffer (from Predator (1987)) at the end of this movie as a cameo, but only if he lost the election for California Governor.
The Antarctic setting on Bouvet Island is based on the unexplained "Vela Incident" of September 22, 1979, where a satellite recorded a flash of light near the island. It was first speculated to have been a man made nuclear explosion, or a natural event, such as a meteor strike, but this has never been resolved.
When Lex asks Sebastian how to say "scared shitless" in Italian, he replies "Non vedo l'ora di uscire da questa piramide con te, perché mi sto cagando addosso." Translated, this literally means "I can't wait to get out of this pyramid with you, because I'm shitting myself."
While this film languished in "development hell" for years, 20th Century Fox considered producing a fifth film in the "Alien" franchise instead. James Cameron, who wrote and directed Aliens (1986), had written a script and even approached Sigourney Weaver to star and Ridley Scott to direct, both of whom expressed interest. When the studio decided to use the Alien and Predator crossover story instead, Cameron, Weaver, and Scott all distanced themselves from the project, and later, declared they would never work on either franchise again. Several years later, Ridley Scott ended up reworking his pitch into his Alien prequel Prometheus (2012).
The character played by Lance Henriksen, Charles Bishop Weyland, is a co-founder of the Weyland Yutani Corporation. This is "the company" referred to in the "Alien" movies. He is the "ancestor" of the Bishop Android from Aliens (1986) and Alien³ (1992), who were also played by Henriksen. In his office on the ship, he does the same hand trick as the Android in Aliens (1986).
The animatronic Queen was controlled by a motion-control rig, which could save her movements digitally. So, if the Queen made a nice looking move in rehearsal, the move could be replayed verbatim in front of the camera.
The character of Verheiden was named after comic book writer Mark Verheiden, creator of the first Alien Vs. Predator comic series, and the first story involving both species. Contrary to popular belief, the comic was released prior to the infamous shot of the alien "skull" in Predator 2 (1990).
At the beginning of the film, the readout of the Predator ship is shown reflected in the visor of the Predator's mask, just as in Alien (1979), the readouts of the Nostromo were reflected on the space helmets.
Paul W.S. Anderson rewarded hardcore Alien and Predator fans by scattering references to the individual franchises within his film. For instance, the opening shot of the movie appears to be a silhouette of the Alien Queen from Aliens (1986), before being completely revealed as a Weyland Satellite.
The shot taken from inside the pyramid, of the team approaching the top with their flashlights, references the shot in Alien (1979) of the Nostromo's expedition team walking up to the entrance of the derelict ship.
The green glow stick dropped down the shaft contains the same fluorescent liquid used by the effects departments of all the Predator movies as the Predators' blood. According to Predator (1987) director John McTiernan, they stumbled on the effect after unconvincing attempts to make the blood look orange forced the crew to look for alternatives.
When one of the explorers is searching the whaling compound, and walks past a door to a building, there is a shot from within the building, in which the red light from the guy's flare comes through the crack in the door to form a flat vertical beam that's picked up by the dust and snow from inside the room, just like the blue-green scanner from the salvage scene at the beginning of Aliens (1986).
According to Director Paul W.S. Anderson, if they'd filmed in Hollywood, the sets would have cost them twenty million dollars. In Prague, they only cost two million dollars, an important factor in keeping the film's budget down below fifty million dollars.
The Alien Vs. Predator story crossed over virtually all forms of media before becoming a feature film. There was a successful comic book series, toy line, multiple video games, soundtrack (of the PC game), and even a trading card series.
The scene in which Weyland's team discovers the sacrificial chamber inside the pyramid, was originally longer than seen in the theatrical cut. After Rousseau and Thomas discuss the hole in the corpse's chest, Sebastian finds a calcified facehugger. Lex and Sebastian then theorize as to what the creature's origin could be. The scene was restored in the movie's unrated extended cut.
At the beginning of the film, the technician in the satellite control station has a "drinking" bird among the Tweety Pie dolls. These are the same birds that were seen on the dining room table in Alien (1979), and the abandoned prison canteen at the end of Alien³ (1992).
At one stage, both Peter Weller and Gary Busey were approached to do a cameo as John Yutani, the other founder of the infamous "Weyland-Yutani" Company from the "Alien" films, but Yutani was written out of the script. The character was later used in the sequel, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), this time as a female.
There's a shot where Lex pulls herself up a cliff. It's filmed exactly like the shot in Alien (1979) where Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) does the same, looking for the Alien, and in Aliens (1986), when Ripley pulls herself out of the airlock at the end. In both shots, the characters are sweating profusely, and one of their hands in front of their faces can be seen.
This was a project that had floated around for about ten years. It was only when Paul W.S. Anderson did his verbal pitch to the executives at 20th Century Fox, that anyone showed any real interest. So much so, in fact, that they greenlit the film immediately.
20th Century Fox wanted Roland Emmerich to direct the film back in the late 1990s, due to the box-office success of Independence Day (1996), but Emmerich turned down the offer, choosing to work on other projects.
Around the time of the film's release, it was reported that at a special industry screening, Paul W.S. Anderson had said that the film was always planned as an R-rated movie, and shot that way, but only three weeks prior to release, the studio changed that by severely cutting the film for a lower PG-13 rating. This account has been heavily disputed by original "AVP" writer Peter Briggs. It was later revealed that this "press-screening" never actually took place, and was only an Internet rumor started by fans. Anderson has said in interviews, that the film seen in theaters is the version he intended audiences to see. However, to appease the fans, an unrated version with added scenes and gore was released later.
On the official poster for the movie, with the Predator in the lower right corner and the alien in the upper left, drooling; the raised black parts of the alien's jaw, along with the opening in its mouth, spell out the letters AVP in an organic version of the font used for the movie's title.
Screenwriter Peter Briggs wrote his original speculative script for "Alien Vs. Predator" in 1991. The script sold overnight, and made him the subject of numerous magazine and book "success story" articles. His version went adrift following studio politics in the wake of executive Joe Roth's departure from 20th Century Fox.
Screenwriter Shane Salerno was the last writer and "closer" on this movie. He worked on the film for fifteen months, including prior to production, through filming in Prague, and all the way through post-production, without receiving the co-screenplay by credit that 20th Century Fox recommended him for to the WGA. Shane has a co-screenplay credit on the novelization of the film, dozens of magazine articles, and many of the original theater posters.
At one point, David Twohy was once approached by 20th Century Fox back in May 2000, about his availability to write and direct the film, but turned down the offer due to scheduling conflicts. Twohy had once worked on several unused story treatments for Alien³ (1992).
The ship, the Piper Maru, they take to the island, is a reference to The X-Files: Piper Maru (1996) (The X-Files), where a French ship, called the Piper Maru, finds a sunken World War II plane containing the black oil alien. ("Piper Maru" was used, because it was Gillian Anderson's daughter's first and middle name.)
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Previous movies in the "Alien" franchise (particularly Alien³ (1992)) have established that the Alien creatures take on some physical characteristics of the creatures, inside which they gestate. This film ends with an alien "chestburster" emerging from inside a Predator; the creature has green coloration, an obvious resemblance to the Predator face, and makes the trademark "clicking" noise. The creature has been dubbed a "Predalien", and is the main antagonist in the sequel.
Ian Whyte plays all three Predators in this movie, and would go on to appear as the Predator in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), as well as the Last Engineer in Prometheus (2012). In all three movies, his characters are killed or mortally wounded by Aliens. That means that he is killed off five times by an Alien throughout the Alien franchise.
The reason a single Alien kills two Predators in such a short period of time, is because the trial inside the pyramid, is supposed to be a coming of age ritual for specifically selected Predators, who were young, and relatively inexperienced; unlike the Predator "The Wolf" in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), this film's sequel, who manages to kill nearly all of the Aliens he encounters.
Maxwell Stafford (Colin Salmon) dies by getting pinned against a wall and cut into cubes by the Predator's net weapon. This is remarkably similar to the way his character "One" dies in Resident Evil (2002). In that film, he is also cut into cubes, that time by a waffled laser beam passing through his body.
When the Predator breaks off an Aliens finger to tattoo Alexa, the other Predators show up at the end, and it's the insignia tattooed on her cheek, that saves her life. This is a direct homage to Mark Verheiden's Predators comic book (1991), where it shows the character in the comic book story, who looks a little like Sanaa Lathan. When the character proves her worth, by killing Aliens, and saving the Predator's life, he tattoos (burns) his personal insignia into her cheek.
Since the Alien prequel Prometheus (2012), it has been confirmed by multiple sources and Ridley Scott himself, that the AVP franchise now is not canon to the main Alien/Predator universe(s). Prometheus is the sole backstory to how the Xenomorphs came to be, no longer making this film a prequel to any Alien movie franchise.
If not including the facehuggers impregnating the characters, an Alien never actually kills a human in the film, the Predators are the only creatures that kill the humans, while the Aliens just kidnap humans for the facehuggers to impregnate. However, one single Alien drone defeats and kills two of the three main Predators around five minutes after the two species meet on-screen for the first time. In fact, this is the only film in the Alien franchise, that does not feature Aliens killing humans.