It’s not uncommon for movies to change their release dates, but major shifts are increasingly rare in a modern Hollywood ruled by pre-scheduled franchise installments whose release dates are often set years in advance of the actual films going into production. But changes do happen, often to several features at a time as studios rework entire slates to accommodate unexpected revisions.
The move, reported late Wednesday evening by Box Office on Twitter, came with the debut of the first new poster for Alien: Covenant, which features a shadowy closeup of the titular iconic movie monster and the single-word tagline “Run.” The poster included the new release date of May 19, a significant shift forward in Fox’s blockbuster feature slate for 2017.
The film was originally scheduled to be released in early August, traditionally a spot for features with uncertain box office prospects or thought not to be sufficiently assured for a more prominent summer release. The new May date will likely be read as reflecting high confidence in the feature, as it will now open against two competing heavy hitters in Warner Bros’ horror release Annabelle 2 and Sony’s comedy reboot of Baywatch starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron. Historically, the Alien franchise has been one of Fox’s most reliable tentpole series, encompassing the original four films and two Alien vs Predator spin-offs along with Prometheus.
Directed by Ridley Scott, Covenant was originally conceived as a follow-up to Prometheus (itself retooled into a loosely-connected prequel to the Alien series after going into production as an original sci-fi feature) but was reportedly reworked into a more explicit Alien franchise-entry early in the production. Full details of the film’s plot are unknown, but it is believed to feature the return to the screen of the iconic “traditional” Xenomorph aliens as antagonists and may tie into the backstory of the original Alien.
Fox also made a significant change to the pending release date of the action sequel Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle, which was originally slated for June but will now open October 6th in direct competition with Arrival director Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner: 2049. The sequel, which is expected to find the young recruits to a secret society of deadly international “gentleman spies” dealing with a new global threat and may involve the return of characters believed dead in the original film, is once again being directed by Matthew Vaughn.