The Alien movie franchise, like many other active Hollywood film series, is evolving into a shared cinematic universe, between Ridley Scott's upcoming Prometheus sequel, Alien: Paradise Lost, and Neill Blomkamp's developing Alien 5 project. Scott has been making the rounds of late promoting his latest directorial efforts, The Martian, which has provided the press with multiple opportunities to pick the filmmaker's brains about what to expect from his next venture in the Alien universe.
Scott has confirmed that Paradise Lost will pick up from the ending to Prometheus, with the scientist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) - the sole human survivor of the mission to the moon LV-223 - and the damaged android David (Michael Fassbender) headed on a journey to the Engineers' home world. The filmmaker has now shed a little more light on Paradise Lost, with regard to how the story gets started.
Pre-production on Alien: Paradise Lost is well underway, with Scott having previously indicated he expects to begin principal photography on the movie by February 2016 - and that he may film partly in Australia, having scouted out the location as far back as May 2014. The filmmaker has since informed Awards Campaign that production is now looking to get started by (or closer to) March 2016; it's but a slight difference, though, and still ought to keep Paradise Lost on schedule to reach theaters as soon as Summer 2017.
20th Century Fox, which has distributed Scott last few directorial efforts and will release Alien: Paradise Lost too, is still holding onto a June 2017 release date for Fantastic Four 2 and has War of the Planet of the Apes set for arrival the next month. The future of Fox's Fantastic Four movie franchise is such an uncertainty right now that it doesn't require a leap to speculate that Paradise Lost could wind up taking the June 9th, 2017 date currently reserved for the Fantastic Four sequel - close to exactly five years after Prometheus opened in U.S. theaters. This would also give Paradise Lost two weeks of breathing room to follow writer/director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII.
Scott also provided the following Paradise Lost insight, when asked by Awards Campaign if the film will retain the aesthetic of Prometheus:
“It’s going to be [its] own separate thing because they are going to the planet of the Engineers and they are going to see what happened there. It was a disaster. And they will be in that alien craft that takes them there, but with a new group that’s incoming, a new group of travelers in the beginning of the first act.”
Both Prometheus and the previous Alien film installments all revolved around a collection of humans encountering dangerous extraterrestrial life-forms, in keeping with the sci-fi/horror roots of the series (read: a group of people are endangered by alien 'monsters'). However, in Prometheus the humans also largely served as mouthpieces for different perspectives on the film's larger philosophical themes, and it stands to reason that Alien: Paradise Lost will resemble its predecessor in that respect. After all, the movie's subtitle is a not-so-subtle nod to its thematic subtext, and the new group of travelers will likely have different views than Elizabeth and David - when it comes to the Engineers - to help provide the narrative with more substance.
Indeed, with Elizabeth and David now being fully aware of how dangerous the Engineers are (and what terrible things they're capable of), the dynamic between those returning characters and the "new group of travelers" could resemble that between Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and the characters that she would encounter in the Alien sequels. Suffice it to say, not everyone will make it out of "Paradise" alive, and thus Paradise Lost may lean even heavier on the horror side of sci-fi/horror - with a story that was cooked up by the screenwriters Jake Paglen (Transcendence) and Michael Green (Blade Runner 2) - than Prometheus did before it.
Question is, will the Prometheus sequel better flesh out its characters and provide a more satisfying stand-alone narrative than its predecessor offered - and thus in turn, maybe prove to be less divisive, by comparison? It's a fair question, too, but seeing as the Alien series is taking steps to become more organized in the future (and The Martian reminding everyone what a capable director Scott is when he has a good script to draw from), there's reason to be hopeful about the answer.
We'll bring you more information on Alien: Paradise Lost and Alien 5 as it becomes available.
Source: Awards Campaign