Blade Runner filmmaker Ridley Scott returned to the science fiction genre for the first time in thirty years with the 2012 release Prometheus, a polarizing quasi-prequel/spinoff to his original 1979 movie, Alien. It only took Scott a few years before he decided to go into outer space again with The Martian, his adaptation of the Andy Weir novel - starring Matt Damon as an astronaut who ends up stranded on Mars - that will be arriving in theaters in October 2015.
Scott has yet to formally commit to his next directorial project after The Martian, though it's been rumored for the last couple years that he still intends to make Prometheus 2 at some point, now that the sequel has a script draft ready to enter production. It would appear that Scott is finally prepared to start filming the next Prometheus installment, as he reportedly intends to begin principal photography on the project by the first quarter of 2016.
This Prometheus 2 update comes from Total Film's profile of The Martian in its print edition (hat tip to Scified), which states matter of factly that Scott "begins shooting Prometheus 2 in January ." Scott was recently reported to have become attached to direct the drug crime drama/thriller The Cartel for 20th Century Fox, but the Prometheus sequel is further along in development at this stage; beyond that, it sounds as though the director is more interested in returning to the Alien/Prometheus universe first, as told Total Film:
"I've gotten back back into the science fiction thing. I kind of adore it."
A January 2016 production start date for Prometheus 2 sounds reasonable, as it would allow Scott the necessary time to finish pre-viz work on the Prometheus sequel, in addition to allowing him to finish his promotional duties for The Martian. Prometheus leads Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender ought to likewise be available to start filming on the sequel by that point; in fact, the delay on Prometheus 2 likely stemmed in part from Fassbender's 2015 work slate, as he's currently reprising as Magneto in X-Men: Apocalypse (and will set to work headlining Assassin's Creed in September 2015).
Prometheus has split movie lovers over its merits as a predecessor to the Alien franchise (as well as a stand-alone work of thought-provoking science fiction) ever since it opened in theaters. Nonetheless, the next chapter in the story teased by the end of the movie - where human scientist Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and the android David (Fassbender) travel to the Engineers' home planet to learn why they originally created humankind (before then attempting to wipe the species out) - is one that even many Prometheus detractors have admitted they would like to see Scott bring to life on the big screen.
The Prometheus 2 script - penned by Michael Green (who also co-wrote the upcoming Blade Runner sequel) based on an earlier script draft by Jake Paglen (Transcendence) - is ready to go (according to Scott), and it sounds as though the story will delve even deeper into the philosophical questions and sci-fi/horror concepts introduced in the first Prometheus film. Between this project and the upcoming Alien 5 from Neill Blomkamp (who has already made changes to his script to maintain continuity with Prometheus 2), the Alien universe looks to soon become a bigger (and better?) world than ever.
The Martian opens in U.S. theaters on October 2nd, 2015. We'll bring you more information on Prometheus 2 when we have it.