Shared cinematic universes are in style - and currently, 20th Century Fox is working on a couple, including one that does not feature Marvel comic book characters. The latter would be a reference to the Alien franchise, which currently has two installments in development: Neill Blomkamp's Alien 5, which will bring back Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley; and Ridley Scott's Prometheus 2, a sequel to Scott's Alien quasi-prequel (or, rather, spinoff) that released in 2012.
The Prometheus followup has been in semi-official development for much longer than Blomkamp's film, but the latter is the one that's been grabbing headlines of late since Blomkamp's been out promoting Chappie. Scott, as it were, is producing Blomkamp's Alien movie - and in a new interview, the District 9/Chappie director talked a bit about working alongside Scott, to make sure their two Alien films may co-exist in peace (and not "tread on the toes" of the other).
Blomkamp, when he spoke with Empire, admitted that he had to make at least one significant change to his plans for Alien 5, once he learned what Scott has in mind with Prometheus 2:
“I changed the one thing [Ridley Scott] felt was bumping ‘Prometheus’ a little bit. One thing that makes me feel good about it is that Ridley is producing it. He likes the idea of what I want to make."
Blomkamp's Alien film artwork (that he released online, anyway) included one of the Engineer ship designs introduced by Prometheus, so it seems that from the beginning, the filmmaker has planned to acknowledge the revelations in Scott's prequel/spinoff.
All the same, Blomkamp reiterated what he's said in the past during his talk with Empire: that Alien 5 won't undo the events of Alien 3 or Alien: Resurrection (and won't break continuity with Prometheus either)... but, at the same time, his film won't necessarily be strongly tied to those installments either:
"The first two films ['Alien' and 'Aliens'] are the ones that I care about."
That Alien 5 already has a proper title is something else that Blomkamp teased during his Empire interview:
“I sent what I wanted as the title to Ridley. It’s kinda quite bold, and he was like, ‘I really like that.’ So I’m gonna test it, I don’t think it’s gonna work, though. I have my own idea but it gives away too much if I say the title. But in the event that it doesn’t work, I’m dead in the water…”
It's encouraging to hear that Blomkamp is keeping Scott in the loop, regarding his developing plans for Alien 5 - and not just because it will help to make sure that these two projects (Alien 5 and Prometheus 2) will neither contradict one another, nor will they cover similar plot/thematic material.
Blomkamp has admitted in the past that at times he's been guilty of focusing more on fleshing out concepts and ideas with his film work, as opposed to keeping his attention on making sure his movie narratives are cleanly structured. The director's two films since his breakout hit District 9, Elysium and Chappie, arguably both suffered from that problem to varying degrees. The mileage that you get from either of those movies depends in no small amount on how much their premises resonate with you, more than anything else.
For the reasons mentioned, it's good to see Blomkamp disciplining himself a bit more with Alien 5, by running some of his ideas by Scott first. That's also encouraging since this is a project that clearly means a lot to Blomkamp (and, in turn, one he wants to get right) - as noted by Terri Tatchell, co-screenwriter on District 9 and Chappie (she also happens to be Blomkamp's wife), during the Empire interview.
Tatchell: "[Neill's been] hemming and hawing, going back-and-forth [about making 'Alien 5']. Finally I said, ‘Look, look at what you make me drink my orange juice out of every morning,’ and I pulled out of the cupboard, we have these set of glasses that have these brutal scenes from the movies. I said, ‘You make your daughter drink out of these cups! This is a sign.'”
Blomkamp: “No bulls**t, that made me realize there is a massive portion of my brain taken up by the xenomorph. I was like, ‘Hmm, that’s a valid point.'”
Prometheus 2 has a finished script ready for shooting in place. Now that we know that Scott is not directing the Blade Runner sequel, it looks like he will set to work on the Prometheus sequel sometime this year - after wrapping up post-production on his space exploration drama The Martian (which hits theaters in November 2015).
Neither Prometheus 2 nor Alien 5 have official releases dates yet, but right now the former appears to be on course to make a 2016/2017 release - with Blomkamp's film presumably following a year (or so) later. Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm already have a release plan in place to have one new Star Wars movie installment arriving in theaters every year, so it wouldn't be surprising if Fox took a similar approach to its Alien cinematic universe.
We'll continue to keep you posted on both Alien 5 and Prometheus 2's development.