Remember when the concept of Alien 5 was first banded around, and we all died a little inside? But then Neill Blomkamp — who we remember directed the excellent political sci-fi District 9 — released those magnificent concept art stills and blew us all away. Then we thought, hey, maybe this could work out alright.
You do? Good. So you've been keeping up with the news coming out of the Alien 5 camp, and so you'll probably be aware that Blomkamp's addition to the "Alien" franchise was conceived to be picking up with Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) shortly after the events of Aliens.
James Cameron's Aliens (1986) left off with Ripley, Newt (Carrie Henn), Hicks (Michael Biehn) and the badly damaged andriod Bishop (Lance Henriksen) escaping LV-426 and entering hypersleep as they prepared to return to Earth. Of course they never got there — their craft crash landed on Fiorina "Fury" 161, and Ripley was the only survivor.
I seem to be in that strange minority of people who actually enjoyed Alien 3, and even didn't think Alien: Resurrection was all that terrible — until I got to the hybrid Ripley-Alien Queen part and threw up in my mouth a little (why Joss Whedon, why!?).
Even so, striking off the latter half of the franchise in favor of breaking new ground isn't the worst way to carry on the franchise — especially considering that the conclusion of Resurrection left Ripley Clone 8 about to touch down on Earth, finally back home after a journey spanning hundreds of years.
The confusion comes when we look at what we've been told from different sources involved with the film. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly celebrating the 30th Anniversary of James Cameron's Aliens, franchise lead Sigourney Weaver clarified where the events of the upcoming-but-possibly-in-development-hell Alien 5 will fit in the series's chronology.
Weaver: "It’s just as if, you know, the path forks and one direction goes off to ['Alien 3' and 'Alien: Resurrection'] and another direction goes off to Neill [Blomkamp]’s movie."
EW report that this "de-canonizes David Fincher's Alien 3 (1992) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien: Resurrection (1997)", which seems contrary to what we'd heard from Blomkamp on the subject previously.
Although Blomkamp had maintained since the early days of pre-production that his film would take place after the events of Aliens, the explanation offered by the director seemed to suggest that this setting would not erase the events of the following two films. As he told French website AlloCine:
Blomkamp: "I’m not trying to undo Alien 3 or Alien Resurrection… My favorites are the first two movies. I want to make a film that’s connected to Alien and Aliens. That’s my goal."
Rather than overriding the events of the latter films, Blomkamp seemed to be setting out to create a companion piece which could — somehow — coexist alongside Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection. But now? Weaver's comments seem to suggest that the plan has changed.
So, does this mean that Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection are now totally, officially, for-reals-this-time, non-canonized? Like the proverbial Jon Snow (Game of Thrones reference, check) we know nothing. Alien 5 is still spinning its wheels in pre-production as sister-film Alien: Covenant — which you may know as Prometheus 2 — moves forward.
One good thing we can take from this though is the notion that we might finally get to see a satisfying conclusion to Hicks and Newt's stories after they were unceremoniously shuffled off the mortal coil back in Alien 3. Given that Michael Biehn is rumoured to be attached to the project as the older, facial-scarred Hicks we saw in the concept art, it would make a whole lot of sense for us to see a grown up Newt appearing too.
As usual, we'll just have to wait and see what Alien 5 has in store for us. But don't expect any solid news until Alien: Covenant finishes production, as Covenant director and granddaddy of the "Alien" franchise Ridley Scott is also attached to Alien 5 as producer.