When Neill Blomkamp, the man who realised the critically acclaimed political sci-fi movie District 9, announced earlier this year that he had a secret Alien pet project in the works we all wondered if the awesome concept art revealed (not to mention the return of Sigourney Weaver as the iconic Ellen Ripley) was all a little too good to be true.
Recent events have put a bit of a dent in the Alien 5 ship though, as Alien director Ridley Scott pushes forward with work on his Prometheus 2, first titled Alien: Paradise Lost and officially called [Alien: Covenant](tag:3648559), and leaves Alien 5 on the back burner. For now at least.
Alien 5 is still happening, but not until after Alien: Covenant:
Ridley Scott: "I’m producing [Alien 5]. The design is for it to go out next, after [Alien: Covenant]. This will go out first. It’s more associated with Ripley, it’s a completely different angle, it’s more of a sequel. I’m coming in from the back end."
Blomkamp At The Helm
So Neill Blomkamp is picking up the Alien franchise whilst Ridley Scott goes full steam ahead with his Prometheus prequel movies, which will all tie up with the very first Alien film - the one and only instalment directed by Scott himself.
After Alien the mantle was handed off to James Cameron for Aliens, David Fincher for Alien 3, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet for Alien: Resurrection. Scott has previously expressed his regret over losing control of the franchise; Prometheus is his new baby - one he's not letting anyone else get their hands on.
Ridley Scott: "I’m trying to keep [Alien: Covenant] for myself. I let the other one [Alien] get away from me – I shouldn’t have. I’m trying to re-resurrect the beast and let if off the hook for a while because I’m coming back into the back-end of Alien 1. I’m gradually getting to Alien 1."
But why did Scott decide to do a prequel trilogy (or a tetralogy if some rumours are true) rather than trying to pick up the franchise as Blomkamp is? Well, Sigourney Weaver shed some light on this question earlier this year, and the why of it may surprise you.
Blame Alien vs. Predator
According to Weaver it was Paul WS Anderson's box office hit but critical (and fanbase) flop Alien vs. Predator that put both her and Scott off from continuing the series.
Sigourney Weaver: "Ridley Scott was about to direct a third [Alien film], until [Alien vs. Predator] was announced, and he dropped out, because he also wanted to do an Alien sequel."
Wow, it looks like Alien vs. Predator deserves more blame than just being a awful film then.
Weaver herself seems to echo Scott's feelings on the matter, as she claims that it was the news of Alien vs. Predator that led to her pushing for Ripley to be killed off during the climatic scene of Alien 3. She goes onto to say that the sci-fi monster crossover "really depressed" her, as she feels it took a lot away from the tone of the original films - something she was very proud to have worked on.
Sigourney Weaver: "I’ve nothing against building a movie on a video game but at the time, it was, as [James] Cameron said I think publicly, 'why would you want to do that?' It’s like making Alien meets the Wolfman... I think it caused more problems than it was worth"
Well aside from the fact that Alien vs. Predator was originally a comic book, later adapted into a video game, she makes a fair point. Her comments may seem odd given that Alien 3 came out in 1992, a full 12 years before Alien vs Predator, but AvP was actually kicking around since 1990 when the original screenplay was penned by Peter Briggs. 20th Century Fox picked up the project in 1991 before production on Alien 3 started, but didn't actually begin rolling forward until a decade later in 2002.
So he might not be involved in a directing capacity with Alien anymore, but Scott now has the Prometheus series which is once again entirely his own. Neill Blomkamp is helming Alien 5, and though Scott is producing he does seem a little regretful that the franchise is no longer his baby, especially considering how poor some of the sequels were (looking at you Alien: Resurrection).
Regardless it does seem like Scott has the Prometheus trilogy well under control, so it's going to be pretty exciting to see what he comes up with this time when Alien: Covenant releases 6th October 2017.