Hollywood's UFO Stories Are Becoming Way More Realistic

The Pentagon admits UFOs are real. So Hollywood is making a flurry of movies and TV shows about how we should look for them.
Image: History Channel
Motherboard explores UFOs, UFO culture, and the paranormal.

UFOs are everywhere, and Hollywood has noticed. Talking about UFOs is no longer fringe, with former Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge getting the U.S. military to admit that it has videos of UFOs.

Small and big screens alike have always carried alien and UFOs. From films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Contact to Arrival and even The Avengers franchise, bizarre aliens and their vehicles have come to Earth and have had audiences the world over question the existence of extraterrestrials. But there is an increased focus on UFO hunters in Hollywood.


“I think it’s fair to say that it is, and that this resurgence in popularity is a direct result of the Pentagon UFO revelations of 2017, which captured the attention of the establishment press like no UFO story has in decades,” Robbie Graham, media critic and author of Silver Screen Saucers: Sorting Fact from Fantasy in Hollywood's UFO Movies, said. “This helped to legitimize UFOs as a topic of mainstream debate and has opened up new scientific and political lines of inquiry for TV producers who are always looking for fresh approaches to this enduringly popular subject.”

Recent polls indicate a little over half of Americans believe UFOs exist and one third buy into the belief that they are alien spacecraft, Graham isn’t totally convinced that UFOs will be the next big thing. He does point out that young people are being drawn into the subject matter like never before.

“It does seem that UFOlogy is not quite as dorky as it once was, thanks to an influx over the past several years of relatively young and trendy researchers who have been drawn to the subject through its newfound legitimacy. UFOlogy was once an old person’s game; now it’s a young person’s game,” stated Graham.

In 2017, former lead singer for Blink 182, Tom DeLonge, publicly announced his UFO/technology/media company, To the Stars Academy, alongside the New York Times article announcing a secret Pentagon program designed to study anomalous phenomena. Young gun UFO enthusiasts turned to social media, #UFOTwitter became an actual hashtag and the once invisible UFO discourse became incredibly public.


“I think people are more open to considering it as a real phenomenon as opposed to just psychology,” Aiden Gillen told Motherboard in an interview. Gillen, known best for playing the role of Littlefinger in HBO’s Game of Thrones, plays Dr. J. Allen Hynek in History Channel’s Project Blue Book, which returns next week. “I suppose you could have said that in the 50s and 60s as well, in the age of science, that people would be more open to the idea that we're not alone in the universe. I'm also fully aware of how unlikely it is that we will find each other.”

Project Blue Book is a fictional TV series about the infamous 1950’s and 60’s Air Force UFO investigation program of the same name.

Gillen said that humans are naturally curious about UFOs.

“It's inevitable that you are going to wonder. This is something that people have done since we began standing on our own two feet as a species. ‘What's up there?’ It's always been, ‘What's up there?’” he said. While Gillen doesn’t think the government should be spending vast sums of money chasing UFOs, as we have more direct problems to deal with, he does think that talking about UFOs is no longer taboo.

“I think there is something that is becoming cool about UFOs. It’s easier to talk about or reference,” Gillen explained. “I feel like Close Encounters of the Third Kind is one of the coolest films of the 70s, and when this role came my way, I actually thought, ‘This is fucking cool.’”

While TV dramas like Project Blue Book are fictional, reality UFO themed programs still have a long way to go.

They “depict presenters chasing lights in the sky in Jeeps while wearing night-vision goggles and brandishing walkie-talkies. It’s nonsensical and devoid of educational value. It doesn’t have to be this way though, and this coming wave of factual UFO TV shows will likely reflect the more serious tone that the mainstream news media have begun to adopt with this topic,” Graham said. “Certainly, UFOs are ‘selling’ like never before. They’re hot property in TV land right now, and everybody wants to stake a claim.”