Earlier this year, around the time his third film Chappie hit theatres, social media-savvy director Neill Blomkamp began to share some concept art he had drawn up for an untitled, unannounced, unmade Alien sequel.
Following the fans' ecstatic response to Blomkamp's plans to return the ailing franchise to its roots, production company Fox kick started the making of what everyone was calling Alien 5. The original plan was to have the South African in the director's chair and Alien director Ridley Scott producing.
Skip forward to the tail end of the year and things are looking quite different. Alien 5 was pushed back to make room for Scott's Prometheus sequel, now called Alien: Paradise Lost. Then, Alien 5 was put "on hold" for an indefinite period of time. Blomkamp appears to have moved on (for now at least) and is slated to direct another sci-fi film for Fox, entitled The Gone World. Meanwhile Scott, fresh off The Martian's success, seems to be planning on wresting back control of the Alien franchise.
In an interview with IGN, the legendary director admitted "I'm trying to keep this [the Alien franchise] to myself". He also said that he is trying to "resurrect the beast" with Prometheus and its planned two or three sequels, which will eventually loop around and link back into his original Alien film.
It sounds like Scott is keen to have full creative control of the future of Alien as well as its prequel past with Prometheus. It's interesting that he's keen to get back to steering the Alien ship after seeing three other directors (four if you count Blomkamp) take control of the tiller for sequels with ever more diminishing returns - but I'm not sure it's the right move.
Neill Blomkamp is a young director with a clear stylistic vision and a clear love of sci-fi, and Alien in particular. For all that District 9, Elysium and Chappie had their faults they were entertaining, smart sci-fi films that had something to say, and how many films that fit that bill have come out recently? Not many.
Blomkamp's desire to have his Alien 5 ignore the much derided Alien3 and Alien Resurrection is a popular idea, and his concept art shows that he really understands what an Alien film needs to look and feel like.
Despite recent success with The Martian, Scott fumbled Prometheus, and his films afterwards - The Counselor and Exodus: Gods And Kings - weren't exactly brilliantly received either. It's clear Scott can still make great films when he wants to (and with the right material) but there's a strong chance his best films are already behind him. On the other hand Blomkamp is a man with a career on an upward trajectory - it feels like he is still to make his best film. Alien 5 could have been that film.
I'm interested to see what Ridley Scott does with the prequels and sequels for his sci-fi classic, but it will be real shame if Blomkamp's vision never gets seen on the big screen.