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SYFY WIRE Event Horizon

Paul W.S. Anderson says studio accused 'Event Horizon' of being so dark it besmirched 'Star Trek'

The director of the sci-fi horror cult classic remembers feeling accused of tarnishing a beloved franchise.

By Matthew Jackson
Sam Neill Event Horizon

Event Horizon, Paul W. S. Anderson's 1997 sci-fi horror film, turns 25 in just a few days, and time has been fairly kind to the dark adventure into the cosmic unknown. The film continues to pull in fans after all these years as more and more viewers embrace its unapologetically gruesome vision of a space crew investigating the strange fate of the title ship, but things weren't always that way.

Even before the film proved underwhelming at the box office, director Paul W. S. Anderson was catching flack at Paramount Pictures, where executives apparently couldn't stop comparing the film unfavorably to one of their other sci-if properties.

“Someone actually said to me, ‘We’re the studio that makes Star Trek!’ They weren’t only horrified by my movie; they felt I was besmirching Star Trek somehow, because I was also in space and doing all this terrible stuff," Anderson recalled in a new interview with Variety

Looking back on the film now, which famously underwent numerous, often significant cuts on its way to theaters, Anderson also recalled the lengthy test screening process, in which sample audiences weren't all that kind of the film's sense of darkness either. 

“I don’t think we were ever going to test great because the end of the movie is a bit of a downer,” Anderson said. “When you disturb an audience they’re not going to go, ‘Oh that was an excellent cinema-going experience.’ But we delivered a movie that really stayed with people. I think that overtime it’s been appreciated for that.”

Fortunately for Anderson, who went on to make films like the Resident Evil series and continues to work in the genre space, he got some sage advice from an actor who knows a thing or two about cult classics: Kurt Russell, who worked with the director on his follow-up film, Soldier.

"I was going on to make a movie with Kurt Russell and I showed him Event Horizon," Anderson recalled. "He said, 'Paul, in 20 years time, that’s the movie you’re going be really glad you made.' He was right! I thought it was very generous of Kurt, considering I was about to go make a movie with him. The film was striking. It didn’t pull its punches and it was true to what it wanted to do. We didn’t have a huge amount of time to cut trailers and do posters and do a very elaborate campaign, but over time people found the movie. It’s been a wonderful experience to see the audience for it grow."

The lesson here: If you're not sure about something, just ask Kurt Russell. He's usually right. 

Looking for something horrific to watch? Peacock has lots of horror movies to keep you suitably scared including The Amityville Haunting, The Changeling, Firestarter, and several Saw movies.