While never quite as culturally ubiquitous a fright franchise as say Halloween or A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Omen is another long-running horror film series that it seems just won’t die. Debuting way back in 1976, Richard Donner’s original Omen film was a huge hit, popularizing the concept of the Antichrist with mainstream moviegoers, and managing to forever ensure that anyone who chooses to name their child Damien will receive aside glances going forward. That success naturally spawned high-profile sequels, with Damien: Omen II arriving in theaters in 1978, and The Final Conflict finishing the trilogy proper in 1981.
The Omen train finally seemed to run out of steam with loosely related 1991 made for TV follow-up Omen IV: The Awakening, although producers did try to revive the property via a profitable but quickly forgotten remake in 2006. Despite the last two ventures failing to earn much acclaim, 20th Century Fox is once again preparing to resurrect The Omen, this time via a film set before the terrifying events that led Ambassador Robert Thorne (Gregory Peck) to believe that his adopted son was in fact the world-destroying Antichrist foretold in biblical scripture.
According to THR, Fox studio is in active development on The First Omen, a prequel penned by writer Ben Jacoby. In negotiations to direct the project is Antonio Campos, helmer of positively reviewed 2016 Sundance festival selection Christine, a film in no way related to John Carpenter’s well-known adaptation of Stephen King’s similarly named novel.
Unfortunately, little is known about the actual plot of The First Omen, outside of the fact that it’s a prequel to the original Omen film. Logically, this would rule out any appearances by members of the Thorne family in the narrative, although one assumes that The First Omen will lead directly into the birth of Damien somehow. Perhaps more will be revealed about the mysterious evil forces that pulled the strings involved with ultimately getting the malevolent newborn adopted by a powerful American politician, or perhaps viewers will be introduced to someone who saw the signs of Damien’s arrival coming and set out to prevent his birth. On the other hand, The First Omen could conceivably take a less conventional approach, and present the scenario that Damien wasn’t Satan’s first attempt at creating an heir on Earth. The creative possibilities at present are fairly wide open.
On the other hand, it’s a bit odd that Fox’s film side has opted to create an Omen prequel while the Omen sequel series Damien is currently airing on A&E. Not only could this approach lead to potential over-saturation of the franchise, it also risks the possible confusion of the fanbase that might be caused by two concurrent but unrelated Omen timelines taking place on both the big and small screens. To be fair though, Damien’s ratings aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, averaging only a 0.2 in the prized 18-49 demographic. By comparison, A&E flagship drama series Bates Motel currently averages a 0.6. It’s possible that Fox already sees the writing on the wall for The Omen’s TV incarnation, and is simply wasting no time in trying to breathe new life into the flagging franchise.
The First Omen is in development, and has no current release date.