Ridley Scott has now begun production on Alien: Covenant, the sequel to his film Prometheus (the quasi-prequel to Scott's original 1979 Alien movie), as evidenced by photos from the film's sets in New Zealand and Australia having started to make their way online. However, now that the studio behind the Alien film property, 20th Century Fox, has formally announced that the plan is for Covenant to serve as the middle chapter in a Prometheus/Alien movie prequel trilogy, this has raised the question: is there still a place for filmmaker Neill Blomkamp's Alien 5 in the future of this sci-fi/horror series?
Alien 5, for those just tuning in, would be the fifth installment in the main Alien film series (so not including Prometheus or the Alien vs. Predator movies) and would serve as a sequel/"soft reboot" along the lines of Jurassic World, in that it's being designed to serve foremost as a followup to the first two installments in the franchise (Alien and Aliens), instead of the less-beloved third and fourth installments (Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection). However, there has been uncertainty surrounding the film since last fall, when Blokamp confirmed that the project is on hold for the time being (due to Alien: Covenant).
Sigourney Weaver, who lined up to reprise her iconic Alien role as Ellen Ripley in Alien 5 (should it happen) after working alongside Blomkamp on the film Chappie, was asked if Blomkamp's Alien movie is still alive (read: only temporarily on hold) during an event held by the tech giant VMare. Here's the update she offered in response (as reported by Aggressive Comix):
Well, I *think* it is. Ridley asked Neill NOT to make our Alien til after Prometheus 2. He (Ridley) wanted his movie to shoot and be released first. But it’s an AMAZING script, and Neill and I are REALLY excited about doing it. We’re doing other things until we can get going on that. I’d be really surprised if we DIDN’T do it, because it’s such a great script, and we love working together. So, it’s just going to take a little bit longer to get out to you, but it’ll be worth the wait.
Scott has indicated in the past that Alien: Covenant will reveal new details about Ripley's pre-Alien backstory, which explains why he asked Blomkamp to hold off on making Alien 5 until he has completed Covenant - not to mention, why Blomkamp made changes to his Alien 5 script, in order to strengthen the narrative connections between his movie and Covenant and, at the same time, avoid inadvertently creating a lapse in continuity between the movies. As Weaver has made clear, her comments don't guarantee that Alien 5 is still going to be eventually made, but the fact that Blomkamp and Scott have worked out the connections between their projects certainly won't hurt Alien 5's chances, either.
In fact, this seems to be further testament to the idea that, like most genre and/or IP-based film franchises nowadays, the Alien movie series is adapting something akin to a shared cinematic universe structure. Hence, the filmmakers currently working on the franchise are collaborating more closely with one another, in order to offer a more seamlessly inter-connected storytelling experience - even though their respective films take place at very different points along the timeline of the Alien film universe.
Of course, like with any "shared universe", the future of the Alien series remains in flux (after Covenant is released, anyway) and additional sequels, spinoffs, and/or prequels are never a given (see Paramount Pictures' defunct plans for a Terminator Genisys trilogy, for case in point). Still, Alien 5 is a genuine passion project for Blomkamp - one which he started developing on his own - and it has the potential to be the "proper" Aliens sequel that many fans of the franchise have wanted, but didn't get with Alien 3 - so here's to hoping that Blomkamp and Weaver get to see the movie through to fruition, sooner than later (or, rather, at all).
Alien: Covenant opens in U.S. theaters on August 4th, 2017. We'll bring you more information on Alien 5 as it becomes available.