Twentieth Century Fox is jumping on the shared universe craze by expanding their popular Alien franchise in the next handful of years. Ridley Scott is prepping his first Prometheus sequel, Alien: Covenant, for an October 2017 release. In addition, District 9 helmsman Neill Blomkamp will be making a film tentatively referred to as Alien 5, which he considers a sequel to James Cameron's Aliens.
That project hit a bump recently, when Blomkamp confirmed that it is being put on the back burner to make room for Alien: Covenant. However, Alien 5 is still coming through the pipeline, and when it finally hits theaters, fans will get two see two franchise favorites rejoin Ellen Ripley on the big screen: Corporal Hicks and Newt.
Michael Biehn, who played Hicks in Aliens, spoke with Icons of Fright and provided an Alien 5 update. According to him, Blomkamp's film is very much alive and will be the next priority for Fox following the completion of Covenant:
"I know Ridley Scott is doing his movie first and is going to be the executive producer on this one, so I'm really looking forward to that. I know that Ridley's focus is on the second Prometheus and I'm sure that he and Fox both don't want that and Neill's movie to come out right next to each other."
It's not uncommon for massive film series to release multiple installments in a year (see: Marvel Studios and WB/DC), but it makes sense for Fox to take things slowly in the early going. The first Prometheus was divisive, and the studio probably wants to see how it performs with audiences before green lighting more films set in the universe. As The Amazing Spider-Man 2 showed, one mediocre movie can quickly derail a master plan, so it's wise for Fox (which still has X-Men properties) to go one step at a time.
Biehn remains confident Alien 5 will happen, saying that the studio is simply "putting the brakes on Neill's movie just for a little while." He's excited about the story, which would not only see him return, but give audiences their first look at an adult Newt (played by Carrie Henn in Aliens):
"They're planning on bringing me and Newt back, and at this point Newt will be around 27 years old. I know that every actress in Hollywood is going to want to play this one, it's really a passing of the torch between Sigourney and this younger actress who would play Newt. It would keep the franchise alive and the studios would make money, because that's what the bottom line is now: money."
As more classic Hollywood franchises come back after years of absence, the "passing of the torch" narrative trope is frequently being used. It's something that's defined the marketing for films like Creed and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which both bring back old veterans to mentor youngsters who are starting new journeys. This would be a logical direction for Blomkamp to take the Alien brand, since the franchise would be set up for future adventures with the new Newt (considering it's a success) after Ripley and Hicks have one last moment.
Let the fan casting for the grown-up Newt (who, like Hicks, will be coming back from the dead it seems) begin!
Alien: Covenant opens in U.S. theaters on October 6th, 2017. We'll keep you updated on the progress of Neill Blomkamp's untitled Alien 5.
Source: Icons of Fright