Although director Ridley Scott will be busy promoting his new version of Robin Hood for the next several weeks, he managed to find time to sit down with MTV News and offer some intriguing details about his Alien prequel – including when it might be released.

Scott kindly did not tiptoe around clarifying the status of the project, which will take place before the events of his original sci-fi/horror classic, Alien.

Instead, he offered the following straightforward update:

“As we speak, I’ve got a pile of pages next to me; it’s like the fourth draft. It’s a work in progress, but we’re not dreaming it up anymore.  We know what the story is.  We’re now actually trying to improve the three acts and make the characters better, build it up to something [we can shoot].  It’s a work in progress, but we’re actually making the film. There’s no question about it, we’re going to make the film.”

For Screen Rant readers that’ve been waiting for a significant update on the Alien prequel, this is welcome news indeed. Scott added that at this point he’s working on refining the screenplay and estimating production costs in order to get the project rolling.

So what exactly will the plot entail?  Well, as we addressed in our last post on the Alien prequel, there have long been questions about the individuals whose remains were recovered on planet LV-426 by the crew of the Nostromo in the first Alien film.  More specifically, there’s been a lot of fan speculation about their connection to the Weyland-Yutani company.

Well, according to Scott, the prequel will address just that:

“It’s set in 2085, about 30 years before Sigourney [Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley].  It’s fundamentally about going out to find out ‘Who the hell was that Space Jockey?’  The guy who was sitting in the chair in the alien vehicle — there was a giant fellow sitting in a seat on what looked to be either a piece of technology or an astronomer’s chair.  Remember that?”

Ring a bell, anyone?

Scott also mentioned at this point that Weyland and Yutani haven’t joined forces yet, that Weyland will be the corporate power behind this initial journey to LV-426, and that the initial mission objective will involve terraforming – something Scott describes accurately as “taking planets and planetoids and balls of earth and trying to terraform, seed them with the possibilities of future life.”

That said, expect the Alien prequel to be a stylistic return to the unnerving set design, pacing, and overall suffocating atmosphere of the original 1979 Alien film, and a shift away from the increasingly mindless action that we’ve seen most recently in the Alien vs. Predator movies.

Scott noted that he would consult original Alien production designer H. R. Giger on the look of his prequel.  The acclaimed director admitted that he would have to both revitalize the franchise – which he described as having been “squeezed dry” – and deal with the fact that “the first [Alien] will always be the most frightening, because the beast we put together with Giger and all its parts — the face-hugger, the chest-burster, the egg — they were all totally original, and that’s hard to follow.”

There really is nothing like your first time.

Finally, Scott mentioned that he hoped to have the Alien prequel out in late 2011 or – perhaps more realistically – sometime in 2012.

In the meantime, feel free to speculate and comment away about these new tidbits concerning the Alien prequel, the development of which we will continue to keep you posted on. :-)

Source: MTV News (via Bloody Disgusting)