One of the most noteworthy trends in Hollywood today is taking the final chapter of a popular franchise and splitting it into two separate films, giving the filmmakers extra time to cover material while doubling the profits for studios. This business practice is most commonly associated with the young adult adaptation genre, as the final installments of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games (amongst others) went this route. But it's starting to leak into other types of films,too.
As Disney/Marvel and WB/DC work on their superhero shared movie universes, viewers will be treated to two-part Avengers: Infinity War and Justice League events, and reports have indicated that the Fast & Furious series will bow out with a multi-part finale. While nothing's confirmed just yet, sci-fi could be the next genre to jump in this pool, with Neill Blomkamp's Alien film possibly being broken up.
While promoting Chappie, Blomkamp spoke with Empire, where he obviously fielded some questions about his next film. The director credited conversations he had with Sigourney Weaver while on the Chappie set for influencing his concept, which he says could go beyond one movie.
Read his quote:
"I’d come up with an idea, and when I met Sigourney on the set of 'Chappie,' I presumed that she would never want to play Ripley again. Rightly or wrongly, I had that in my head. I also didn’t know where you could go with her, given 'Alien 3 and 4'. So when I started speaking to her, I just wanted to know more about the process of making the first two films. The first two are the ones that I care about. Then I started to realize there was a whole film – at least a film, if not more – that still contained Ripley, which I was really surprised by."
Since Alien 5 (not the official title) is so early in development, plot details are largely unknown at this time. Blomkamp has said previously that he intends for his take on the franchise to be a sequel to James Cameron's Aliens (with Michael Biehn possibly returning as Hicks), but has been careful to mention that he is not looking to undo the events of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. How that happens remains to be seen, but Weaver is promising that it will "break new ground."
As such, it is difficult to say at this juncture if splitting the concept into two films is a good idea or not. Frequently in these cases, the "part one" is criticized for being nothing more than a slow buildup with little or no payoff, while the second act is seen as the exact opposite. People obviously love watching serialized TV dramas, but moviegoers mainly prefer that their films tell full stories, even if they're part of a larger series. Without complete narrative arcs, some feel that the experience of watching it is an empty one.
Furthermore, there's reason to question if Blomkamp should be thinking this ambitious with his new film. He broke out in the mainstream with the Best Picture nominee District 9, but has failed to reach the heights of that film in the years since. Both Elysium and Chappie, while stunning visually, left much to be desired in the story department in the eyes of more than a few moviegoers and critics. The reception of his latter two movies hasn't killed enthusiasm for Alien 5, but it's plausible many would agree Blomkamp should go smaller with the ideas this time around, maybe even teaming up with a co-writer to iron the details out.
That said, it's important to keep in mind that this is far from a confirmation Blomkamp will helm two Alien films. As of now, he's only signed on for one and we'll have to see where it goes from there. As Blomkamp pushes forward on Alien 5, we'll learn more about what he has in mind, and it will be easier to judge if he has enough material to carry two features.
We'll keep you updated on Alien 5 as more information becomes available.
Header image by Alanpaints @ DeviantArt