The Alien movie franchise, like most active tentpole properties nowadays, is embracing the popular shared cinematic universe model. Case in point: currently in the pipeline are Prometheus 2, a sequel to Ridley Scott's 2012 quasi-Alien prequel/spinoff that, at this point, is essentially separate from the over-arching Alien franchise narrative; and Alien 5, the installment currently being developed by Neill Blomkamp, with Sigourney Weaver lined up to reprise her iconic role as Ellen Ripley.
It's been reported, but not officially confirmed by 20th Century Fox (yet), that Prometheus 2 is going to begin production in the first quarter of 2016 (under Scott's direction), with Alien 5 likely to follow suit later that same year. However, according to a new rumor making the rounds, Blomkamp's project may end up having to take a bit longer than expected before it starts principal photography.
Bloody Disgusting is reporting that (according to its sources) Fox "remains hot on the idea" of Alien 5, which Blomkamp has been officially developing since February 2015 - even longer than that, if you count when he was working on the project on his own time. However, Scott has reportedly "insisted" that the Prometheus sequel - which has a finished script according to Scott - be completed before the next Alien movie starts filming. Since production and post-production on Prometheus 2 will take a fair amount of time (given the effects-heavy nature of the space exploration tale), Blomkamp's Alien 5 will get an even lengthier development process than Fox previously had in mind.
If this rumor is accurate, then Alien 5 is now on course to start production in 2017 rather than 2016 - meaning, it should reach theaters in 2018. The project (as noted by BD) would gain a couple benefits from this move, too:
- It would mean Blomkamp is going to have additional time to fine-tune his script, while Prometheus 2 stays on target to make a 2017 theatrical release.
- This will allow more room for flexibility in scheduling, as the Alien 5 production will have to work around Weaver's commitment to James Cameron's upcoming Avatar sequel trilogy (which will be in production/post-production by the time Blomkamp begins shooting his own sci-fi movie).
Michael Biehn, while attending the 2015 Sheffield Film and Comic Con (hat tip AvPGalaxy), also told attendees there that while Blomkamp has talked to him about playing Corporal Hicks again in Alien 5, he has yet to see an actual script for the film. That's just further evidence that Blomkamp's Alien project isn't quite as far along in development as previously thought - and thus, could use the extra time for refining during pre-production.
Scott has been churning out new movies as a director pretty quickly for much of the past decade now, so it's not so difficult to imagine him setting to work on Prometheus 2 just a few months after his next film (the space exploration flick The Martian) opens in theaters in October 2015. It's certainly possible that progress on the Prometheus sequel has impacted Fox's plans for Alien 5, seeing as the filmmakers behind both projects have actively in contact with one another - in order to make sure they don't step on one another's toes, so to speak - and thus, their directors are well aware of just how far along their counterpart's Alien film really is at this stage.
One of the common criticisms of Blomkamp's last two films (Elysium and Chappie) is that their scripts could've used some additional revision work, to match the quality of the filmmaker's (more impressive) sci-fi world-building for those movies. Hence, for many the news that Blomkamp may, in a matter of speaking, be required to spend extra time on the script-writing process for Alien 5 will be all the more welcome. If this "delay" helps improve the odds of two good movies set in the Alien universe reaching theaters over the next few years as a result, then we're all the more for it.
We'll keep you posted on development of both Prometheus 2 and Alien 5 as more information is made available.