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THE THING | December 4, 2009 Draft by Eric Heisserer

Based on JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING By Bill Lancaster

"Terror has a new face... and soon it will have yours."

SFMZ Note: To change 'things' up from our typical enhanced script presentations, this is actually the original The Thing 2009 script where the presentation is formatted to fit the screen writer's story rather than the final film presentation. This limited the amount of visuals that can be used to accompany the script.

Fade in: On the sun hanging in the sky. Bright, sweltering, like God’s flashlight beaming down... Tilting to find harsh, jagged mountains in the distance. The range spans thousands of miles. Settling on a vast terrain of snowy tundra. A desolate, white floor of nothing. Mocking the sun. The haunting heartbeat Morricone score creeps in. And the sound of heavy machinery.

Reveal: Three geologists on the ice, bundled up against the cold. One of them is a woman. They huddle around a large subterra-sampling drill. The metal legs of the drill have been bolted to the ice. The two male Geologists argue, barely heard over the sound of the drilling. One holds a clipboard with a printout. Pointing vigorously at a sonar-like image of the ice. The other shakes his head in disagreement.

The female Geologist (Juliette) kneeling by the drill is watching a readout on the drill’s console, shouting at the others, calling out depth distance, but she can barely be heard above the din of drill noise. Suddenly the drill whines and shudders violently.

The entire mechanism vibrates and the bolts explode off one of the legs-- and the whine turns to a grating, highpitched metallic screech --

One flying bolt slams into one of the Geologists, shattering his goggles and knocking him to the ground-- Blood spits from the wound onto the white snow-- More bolts whiz past the other Geologists bullet-fast as they hold their hands over their ears--

Then the dislodged drill housing spins like a top on the ice and suddenly lurches down, all that spiraling motion backfires into the machine after the drill gets lodged... WHAM. A massive tremor on the ice, sending snow and rocks scattering, like a fist slamming on a table covered in powdered sugar. The Geologists are all knocked to the ground. And-- The effect ripples out in all directions, dropping the entire ice floor a full foot, until it stops...

BIRD’S-EYE ANGLE ON TUNDRA: ...revealing a disturbed area around the tiny ant-sized Geologists HUNDREDS OF YARDS in diameter and in a perfect circle. The Geologists get back on their feet and stare at each other. Shocked. The one hit by the bolt holds a gloved hand over half his bloody, ski-masked face, dazed.


FADE IN: EXT. MCMURDO BASE - DAY: A mote of civilization among the ice wasteland. Buildings of concrete and metal huddle together in a grid of dirt roads. It looks like a construction site.

EXT. MCMURDO AIRPORT TARMAC - DAY: A large C130 approaches to land at the small airport. The landing gear hits ice covered in salt, finds rough traction, and the C130 begins to slow. Moments later, the C130’s cargo door opens like the maw of a dragon, and PASSENGERS pour out of it. These are not your normal air travelers. They’re an eclectic mix of rugged outdoorsmen and wide-eyed scientists; the physically capable and the mentally adept, intermingled.

Forklifts approach the plane. A large bus-like truck with massive tires rolls by. Many BLUE COLLAR WORKERS set about the process of unloading the C130 while a CROWD of men wait nearby to board the plane and leave town. The PASSENGERS leaving the plane begin to thin out as a handful of PILOTS call out their connections:

AUSTRALIAN PILOT: Sydney Marine Lab?

AMERICAN PILOT: U.S. Meteorology! Show of hands!

Remaining on the ramp: A trio of passengers still without a pilot. Possibly the last group without one. Standing in the front is SANDER HALVORSON. Sander is: Early fifties, stern, reeks of academia with his valise and scarf.

SANDER: Adam. I don’t see our ride.

From left to right: Sander Halvorson, Adam Goldman, Kate Lloyd

Just behind him is ADAM GOLDMAN, wheeling a large suitcase and hefting an overnight bag. Adam is: Early thirties, smart, thinks he’s smarter.

ADAM: He should be here.

Last in the trio is KATE LLOYD. Kate is: Mid-twenties, watchful, but out of place here. She is perhaps the only woman on board the C130. She too is burdened with luggage, taking in her surroundings. She reaches out and stops a CARGO HANDLER in hard hat and eyewear.

KATE: We’re looking for the Norwegian pilot.

Cargo Handler shrugs and then points at something across the tarmac: An office with a series of windows looking out on the air strip, with the plain Helvetica sign: “INTRA-CONTINENTAL TRAVEL / CHECK-IN.” Sander sets his sights on the office.

SANDER: (sotto): Should have done this myself.

EXT. TRAVEL OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER: Through the window, Sander can be seen in an intense discussion with a RADIO CHIEF at his desk. It’s a lot of pointing fingers, shaking heads, and neither side getting through to the other. REVERSE ANGLE on Kate and Adam, watching the scene from outside the office. Adam hugs himself, shivering.

ADAM: Jesus, it’s freezing.

Kate keeps watch on Sander through the window.

KATE: This isn’t going well.

ADAM: It’s not my fault.

Kate catches sight of a RUGGED PILOT passing them by and stops him--

KATE: Excuse me, our pilot didn’t show up, and we’re looking for a ride.

The Rugged Pilot gives Kate an obvious once-over like he’s ready to pay for sex, then smiles:

RUGGED PILOT: Well, where you headed, darling?

KATE: Thule Station?

Rugged Pilot chuckles.

RUGGED PILOT: You might as well be asking for a flight back home.

The Pilot waves ‘so long’ and keeps going. Sander steps out of the office, furious.

SANDER: No radio contact with the Norwegians for three days.

ADAM: Three days? What now?

SANDER: They said to talk to the penguins.

KATE: Talk to the what?

US NAVY VXE OFFICES - DAY: The logo of a red-eyed, cigarette-smoking, booze-wielding penguin, surrounded by the words: “Air Devron Six / Puckered Penguins.” Pulling back to reveal it’s a poster-sized image on the wall of a shack.

Center-stage on the wall is a wall calendar with a photo of a majestic tropical shore-line. Hawai’i. The calendar states the month and year: MARCH 1982. Stuck to it is a handwritten note: “800 MORE FLIGHT HRS.”

Seated at the desk against this wall is BRAXTON CARTER. Carter is: early 30s, rugged, no-nonsense. Carter works studiously on something in his hands. Behind Carter, his co-pilot DEREK JAMESON reclines at his desk, watching a “Mork & Mindy” rerun that’s been recorded on a VHS tape. Jameson is: African-American, well built, bored out of his mind.

On the wall near Jameson is a photo of MacReady standing by his Outpost 31 helicopter. A red magic marker has been used to circle his face, and a handwritten note beside him reads: “Do not accept rides from this man!”

A third man, IAN GRIGGS, watches with Jameson. Griggs is: Of thick Irish stock, red hair and beard. Their office space is small and cramped. A window looks out onto the tarmac where a massive SEA KING helicopter slumbers. The Sea King is the RV of helos.

JAMESON (re: Mork & Mindy): Man, just watching this guy makes me tired.

GRIGGS: Eh, I watch it for the girl.

Reveal what Carter has been working on: A Rubik’s Cube. Except, he’s not trying to solve it properly. He’s used a flathead screwdriver to take it apart and is now assembling the little cube pieces together.

He slaps the last piece in and holds it up. Smiles to himself. Turns around and-- The cube is slapped on the desktop near Jameson.

CARTER: Done. You owe me a beer.

JAMESON: No way. How...

Jameson picks it up in his hand. One of the corner pieces pops out. Jameson crooks his head at Carter.


JAMESON: You took it apart.


JAMESON: You cheated.

CARTER: I improvised.

Sander steps in from outside, with Kate and Adam in tow. His hair is lightly dusted with snow.

SANDER: Are you the Naval Search and Rescue team?

Carter blinks at Sander, then looks at the sign on the wall. It reads: “VXE-6 NAVAL SEARCH AND RESCUE.”

CARTER: Maaaaybe. Who are you?

SANDER: Doctor Sander Halvorson. The Oslo Geosciences Division called me down here. It’s imperative we get to Thule Station.

Jameson keeps watching TV. Griggs gives the scientists a subtle glance.

CARTER: You folks are doctors?

SANDER: I’m a microbiologist from Harvard. This is my science team.

CARTER: Well, go team. But Thule... That’s ambitious.

Kate lets out an exasperated breath. Carter notices. Kate notices him noticing and straightens up.

KATE: Look, it’s been a long trip for us already, and we just need someone to take us the last little bit. Tell me you’re ambitious enough to help us.

Carter’s gaze travels from Kate to Sander. Then he stands up and points to a map of Antarctica pinned to one wall.

CARTER: Here’s Thule. We’re down here. Your ‘last little bit’ is across sixteen hundred and twenty-three miles of absolutely nothing.

Carter points at Sander, Adam, and Kate as he continues:

CARTER (CONT’D): You weigh maybe two hundred? (then Adam) Plus one-seventy, seventy-five, (and Kate) Plus one-twenty. Add my crew and we get a half-ton of weight and some change.

Carter crosses his arms, still barreling through the basics of the task ahead.

CARTER (CONT’D): We gotta turn our Sikorsky Sea King into a flying tanker truck, load it with six hundred gallons of fuel plus a reserve, and that’s not the hard part.

Carter glances out the window at the WINDSOCK flapping near the Sea King.

CARTER (CONT’D): The trick is the crosswind, which is four knots right now but there’s a Herbie coming up the Alley tonight.

Focused back on the three of them.

CARTER (CONT’D): So if we get favorable winds, we conserve fuel and reach your friends in about ten hours. Otherwise, we fall out of the sky twenty clicks from anything manmade and the cold kills us. (beat) Now, you still want to go?

Unnerved by his speech, Adam shakes his head ‘no.’ But Sander is out front and nods.

SANDER: We’ll take our chances.

KATE: Hang on. Is it really that risky?

JAMESON: Every day.

KATE (to Sander): We should wait overnight. See if our pilot shows.

SANDER: We’re not waiting. (to Carter): You have three passengers and a few bags of gear.

CARTER: And you got yourself a pilot.

Jameson perks up.

JAMESON: Wait, what?

Carter zips his flight coat. Griggs shakes his head.


He zipped up.

EXT. TARMAC - AFTERNOON: The Sea King is powering up. Before Kate can board it, Sander holds her back.

SANDER: Kate, a moment.

KATE: What.

SANDER: I know this was incredibly short notice, so I may not have been clear when we left. (beat) I am the lead in this expedition. My word is first and final. Understood?

KATE: I understood that back at Columbia.

SANDER: Kate. This is an opportunity of a lifetime.

KATE: Opportunity presupposes choice, doctor. Adam might be fine with your selective memory, but if we’re being candid, you’re holding my doctoral degree hostage. That’s the only reason I’m here.

The helicopter’s blades are nearing half power. Kate shouts the last of her words before passing Sander and boarding the craft:

KATE: (CONT’D) One week. You got me for that long. Then I’m going home.

EXT. ANTARCTICA - EVENING: Following the Sea King, flying over barren landscape. Out on the horizon, the sun begins to set behind the snaggletooth-shaped Transantarctic mountains.

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The Thing 1951

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Who Goes There

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