A few months ago, seemingly out of nowhere, writer and director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) shared concept art for an Aliens movie he conjured up while thinking about what he'd like to do if given the opportunity to helm a new installment in the iconic sci-fi franchise. It was entirely unofficial and had nothing to do with property owner Twentieth Century Fox.
That has since changed.
What began as a self-described "mental stroll into the world Ridley Scott created," the project which Blomkamp referred to as Alien Xeno, immediately became a source of speculation and excitement, most notably from franchise star Sigourney Weaver who expressed interest in the idea. A week later and it was official. Blomkamp took to social media to announce that his next project would indeed be Alien 5 (currently untitled).
With his current film Chappie opening in theaters this weekend, Blomkamp and Weaver have been conducting a worldwide press tour and fielding plenty of Alien 5 related questions. Blomkamp is keeping details on "hyper-lockdown" to keep as much attention as possible in Chappie and will only talk about how he developed the backstory and artwork for another Alien film starring Sigourney Weaver on his own without the studio knowing.
So, the long-running Alien franchise, once seemingly thought dead, traded out for spinoffs and crossovers, is coming back. Despite repeated failed attempts to bring back the series to the forefront of sci-fi greats, Fox clearly has an interest in keeping the IP alive. Ridley Scott, who like Blomkamp also has a sci-fi flick (The Martian) opening in theaters in 2015 will move onto Prometheus 2 next continuing that spinoff adventure - without using Xenomorphs next time - and at the same time, Blomkamp will pick up where James Cameron's Aliens left off. Essentially, both story threads in that shared universe are branching out in their own directions.
Speaking with Variety about re-teaming with Blomkamp on a new Alien adventure, Weaver has high hopes for what the project could deliver to loyal fans while still offering something entirely new.
"I can't think of a better director. He's a real fan. I think he'll be true to the world and take it in unexpected directions. It's got a lot of sinew in it. It will certainly stand up to the others and probably break a lot of new ground as well."
After the critical panning of Alien 3 (1992), Alien: Resurrection (1997), a pair of Alien vs. Predator movies (2004, 2007) and a prequel-but-not-really spinoff in Prometheus, it's hard to identify what "true to the world" would amount to. If anything, the broken state of the franchise will give Neill Blomkamp more creative freedom, especially if it's building strictly from the first two movies (the good ones) and not the others.
So, what can we expect from a Blomkamp-helmed Alien movie? Something shot in the same gritty and dusty, but believable future aesthetic, obviously. It's what he's done best in District 9, Elysium and Chappie above all else. Weaver on Blomkamp's Chappie world-building:
"It is set in the future, but it’s almost like an alternate present. It’s not happening in a far away world or an unrecognizable planet. I love how he uses this genre not for fantasy, but for human stories, even with robots."
Trade robots for "aliens" in that quote and you have a rough basis for Alien 5, conceptually speaking. Now it just needs a story, something Blomkamp admitted he "f***ed up" on with Elysium. The early reviews of Chappie are similarly not too positive on the story front either so if he's going to take on an existing property for his next directorial gig, one that's suffered for two decades, perhaps on Alien Xeno/Alien 5 he should work off of someone else's script... from someone not named Damon Lindelof.
Michael Biehn's Corporal Hicks might be back too!