The Alien franchise was dead in the water for quite a few years, until it had a revival (financially, if not critically) with 2012's Prometheus. With the latter's success, Fox set its sights on expanding the saga as much as possible. First, through this year's Alien: Covenant, and — as Ridley Scott recently revealed — through at least two more prequel films that will eventually link up to the original Alien.
There's one more movie in that expansive slate that's been in development for quite some time: Alien 5. Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Chappie) was planning to write and direct the project, which would signal the return of beloved alien butt-kicker, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). Other than some tantalizing pieces of concept art, however, details on the state of Alien 5 have been scarce. Unfortunately, Alien: Covenant director Ridley Scott just explained why.
The director did a Facebook Q&A session for French outlet, Allocine. There, one fan asked Scott about his thoughts on Alien 5. Scott explained the project's unsure footing:
"Well, there was never a script. It was an idea which was evolved on ... I think a 10-page pitch. And I was meant to be partly producer on that. And it didn't evolve. Fox decided they didn't want to do it so that was it. So I was already on two. I think I'd done 'Prometheus' and was already planning 'Covenant,' so, don't know."
To add salt to the wound, when asked by the interviewer whether he thought the movie would ever happen, the director basically stated it was dead:
"I don't think so. No."
Yikes. Now, before getting depressed with Scott's update, we need to delve a little into the film's troubled development process to figure out what went wrong...
What's Actually Going On With 'Alien 5'?
During the Aliens 30th Anniversary panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2016, Sigourney Weaver was asked about the possibility of an Alien 5. The actress had nothing but great things to say about it. According to her, Blomkamp had a clear idea of where he wanted to take the franchise and she was very excited with the script that was already in place:
"There is an incredible script, written and to be directed by Neill Blomkamp, who was a fan growing up in South Africa, who loved these movies so much. And when were were working together on 'Chappie' [...] we started chatting about how the series left Ripley. And I have been wanting to do a fifth one. [...] That whole first day we started just talking about and, four months later, I got a script that was so amazing, and it gives the fans everything they are looking for. Plus innovates in a lot of ways that just immediately, for me, became a part of the world."
In the same 30-year commemoration event, James Cameron said that Neill Blomkamp had shared his script with him. And according to Cameron, it was so solid that production of the film could begin whenever Blomkamp wanted to do it:
“He shared it with me, and I think it's a very strong script, and he can go make it tomorrow.”
Despite Weaver and Cameron's enthusiasm, Alien 5's Hollywood prospects went down over time. In September of 2016, during an appearance in the San Sebastian Film Festival, Sigourney Weaver herself went on to express doubts about the movie's future, citing Ridley Scott as one of the reasons it got delayed:
“It’s one of those things we wanted to do this past year, but I think Ridley [Scott] didn’t want them all coming out at the same time. He has got work to do, and I have things going on. I hope we do get to do it.”
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So, is Alien 5 happening? Was it ever meant to happen or was its existence just part of fans' eager imaginations?
The answer may be fairly straightforward. Alien 5 did exist at some point, and it was most likely fairly ahead in development. There were, after all, several pieces of concept art depicting our characters in some intriguing situations.
However, Fox may be playing it cautious with the franchise. In the past two years, two sequels to major blockbusters did not perform well at the box office — Independence Day: Resurgence and Terminator: Genesys. With that situation, and with three Alien movies already in the pipeline, Fox may be wanting to see how Alien: Covenant does to make sure the franchise has sure footing before moving forward with more Xenomorph scare-fests. If that's the case, it's a smart move.
Hopefully, Covenant manages to wow audiences once again and carries the Alien legacy forward. The film arrives in theaters on May 19, 2017.