Director Ridley's Scott Alien: Covenant - a sequel to his Alien quasi-prequel Prometheus - is currently filming and remains scheduled to reach theaters in 2017; but where the Alien franchise goes after that remains to be seen. There are tentative plans for Scott to make one more prequel film in order to fully bridge the gap to the filmmaker's original 1979 Alien and complete a Prometheus trilogy in the process. However, there's also Neill Blomkamp's untitled Alien sequel still waiting in the wings.
Blomkamp's project, also referred to as Alien 5, is designed as a followup to director James Cameron's Aliens (which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year), but was put on hold by 20th Century Fox until Scott completes Covenant. Sigourney Weaver, who would return as Ellen Ripley should Blomkamp's Alien movie start moving forward again, has now spoken more about what to expect from Blomkamp's Alien project in particular.
Weaver previously confirmed to EW that Blomkamp's Alien sequel essentially ignores the events of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, in order to take Ripley's story in a different direction. In an extended interview with the outlet, Weaver reiterated that the project is on hold due to Covenant, rather than concerns over the quality of Blomkamp's latest script draft:
“Well, we have a great script. Fox asked us to delay so Ridley Scott could shoot his [second] Prometheus movie. That was too bad because we would have already done it by now."
Director David Fincher's 1992 film Alien 3 concluded Ripley's story by having her die in the end, before the character was resurrected in the appropriately-titled (but generally not well-received) Alien: Resurrection by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet five years later. Resurrection left Ripley's ultimate fate hanging in the air, but Weaver is suggesting that Blomkamp's movie will do otherwise - having told EW that “It’s a great story and it’s satisfying to me to give this woman an ending,”
One of the popular fan theories right now is that Blomkamp's Alien film will provide a satisfying resolution to Ripley's adventures, while at the same time paving the road for additional Alien installments that feature a different protagonist - namely, Newt, who was introduced in Aliens before being rather unceremoniously killed off between the events of that film and Alien 3. Blomkamp has confirmed that his movie features a grown-up version of Newt, so it's plausible that Newt could be the one to pick up the torch from Ripley - should Blomkamp's film get a green-light, in the future.
Weaver also told EW that she feels Blomkamp's script does right by not only Ripley, but the Xenomorphs themselves:
“The script itself has so much in it that’s so original, but also really satisfies the, I would say, the primal needs of the aliens. It’s a tribute to all of the great work that the other directors have done, in a way, but goes in a completely new direction. I hope we’ll do it.”
Alien: Covenant will dive deeper into the history behind the Xenomorphs and how they came to be, but Blomkamp has confirmed that he's spoken with Scott about the film - and even tweaked his Alien sequel script to accommodate both Covenant and Prometheus, after Scott expressed concerns that Blomkamp's original screenplay was "bumping 'Prometheus' a little bit." In other words: the stage has been set for Scott to finish telling his Alien prequel story (either with Covenant or a third film) and then for Blomkamp to build on that foundation, in order to move the Alien franchise forward into the future in a new direction.
Will that happen? It's up in the air for now, as Weaver acknowledged to EW she's going to be busy collaborating with Cameron on his four Avatar sequels for the next year and Blomkamp is going to be working on his original time-travel movie The Gone World in the meantime; as Weaver put it, “So we’ll have to see what happens when we get back, when those projects are over.” Nevertheless, if everything works out, this could prove to be an effective way of continuing the Alien series beyond Ripley's first encounter with the Xenomorphs, after Scott finishes up filling in the backstory there.
Alien: Covenant opens in U.S. theaters on August 4th, 2017. We'll continue to keep you updated on Neill Blomkamp's untitled Alien sequel.