Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel series may be canceled – which makes it the perfect time to resurrect Neill Blomkamp’s “totally dead” Alien 5. For nearly 40 years, the xenomorph has stood as one of the greatest horror monsters; birthed under Ridley Scott in 1979, there have since been six movies, two crossovers, and plans for much more to come. However, as Fox prepares to cancel Scott’s Alien: Covenant sequels, is there any hope of hearing us scream in space one more time?
While the series was once heralded as one of the horror greats, the years haven’t been kind to Alien, with the various prequels and sequels paling in comparison to the first two movies. Hope at first seemed to come from Neill Blomkamp, who made a big splash with District 9 and was at one point signed on to direct an intriguing Alien 5 project. This was reported to be completely off the cards last year, but now the future of the franchise is murkier, it could always come back.
Why Did We Never See Blomkamp’s Alien Movie?
The premise of Blomkamp’s sequel was simple: pick up after James Cameron’s lauded Aliens and basically erase all the bad stuff that came after it. There is no escaping that both Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection completely failed to live up to their predecessors; both were mired by studio meddlings, and altogether had unclear ideas of what exactly the franchise was. Blomkamp hoped to press the reset button, retconning away Hicks and Newt’s offscreen deaths and returning the series to its roots. Sigourney Weaver was on board, Michael Biehn couldn’t wait to play Hicks again, and gritty concept art got fans of all stripes excited.
However, the creator got in the way. When Scott decided to push ahead with Covenant and tell the much earlier origins of the species, he also forced Fox’s hand and wrote off Blomkamp’s film. While the post-Aliens world could have probably run side-by-side with the prequels, Ridley was having none of it. Plainly, it was timings and studio meddling (again), rather than the idea that got the project canned.
Where Did Ridley Scott’s Alien Prequels Go Wrong?
Hype may have been high for Scott’s return to a world of penis-headed monsters and even deadlier androids, but the results have not won over audiences. 2012’s Prometheus had already been accused of not being a “classic” Alien movie, and then Covenant spun the other way; the discussion of creation remained, but this time paired with CGI Xenomorphs and ineffective horror. With talks that the third installment would almost completely discard the aliens in favor of Michael Fassbender’s David and more AI antagonists, fans were getting exasperated. Covenant tumbled well below its box office predictions, and some were already sighing at the thought of Scott planning to make another three movies to our screens.
It was too many things of unclear ambition. Both films felt like style over substance, but most importantly they weren’t what people expected from Alien. Even Scott seems aware that things weren’t running smoothly, recently saying the xenomorph was running out of steam. Now his series has, although perhaps not the creature itself.
Page 2 of 2: Can Covenant's Failure Bring Alien 5 Back?
Will We See Alien 5?
Now that Fox has all but given up on Scott’s ambitious storytelling plans, it leaves a perfect Alien 5-shaped gap in the market for someone else to take the reins. There is a good reason why people by-and-large can’t decide whether it prefers Alien or Aliens, but after the ethereal prequels something riffing on Cameron’s noisy and bloodthirsty movie will be just the ticket. We’ve been told the project is dead, but a host of development hell escapees – think Deadpool – show how that doesn’t mean never. If there’s a desire for a new but different Alien, there are a lot worse options than a project that’s already had a good amount of conceptualization done.
However, there is one major problem. Why would the wholesome Disney – who have just bought Alien along with a host of other franchises in their purchase of Fox – craft a movie about murderous acid-spitters? The House of Mouse is best-known for its family-oriented output; it’s hard to imagine xenomorphs getting their own ride at Disneyland or kids asking for a stuffed queen on their way through the gift shop. Admittedly, a Blomkamp movie could help Disney break the mold in both directions, but does the studio really want to? Ultimately, bringing Alien to cinemas under the Disney umbrella is one hell of a risk to take, and with the franchise’s recent box office takings, it might be a gamble too far – at least in the short term.
Why Blomkamp Can Save Alien
But, risk or no, this would be the right thing to do. Everything known about Blomkamp’s project suggested something diametrically opposed to Scott’s prequels, which would hopefully mean something exciting that at worst that breaks through the malaise. There may be many franchises brought back from the brink of extinction to a less than impressive reception (Scream, Saw, and Indiana Jones), but there have also been some runaway successes; a hunger for good Alien is there.
The potential is perhaps best shown by another major sci-fi series about to come back in a big way after some particularly rocky times. James Cameron’s Terminator 6 isn’t out yet, so we can’t use it as a complete guideline, but the overwhelming reaction to his and Linda Hamilton’s return says a lot about how to get fans back on board with a reboot, chiefly a strong connection to its origins. The same could definitely be said of Alien; the return of Ripley would be a major draw for the series and give a sense of organic importance to the project.
Perhaps the biggest tick in the Alien 5 box though is that the whole framework is already there. Blomkamp may have only released some of the concept art, but he had a 25-page treatment that got the project seriously moving. His passion evidently remains, and it’s hard to think the fans who first made his artwork such an event will have lost theirs either.
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