Hulu and 20th Century’s excellent Prey put the Predator franchise back on the map in 2022 with a very fresh take on the material, all but securing a future for a film series that had floundered in recent years after so many false starts.
But what about the studio’s other massive sci-fi horror film saga? Despite the fact that it’s been over 40 years since Alien first hit the big screen in 1979, interest and speculation about the franchise has only grown in the decades since. It’s unfortunate, then, that the future of the Alien series feels so up in the air right now when compared to its sister series.
Fortunately, there are two new projects poised to carry on the Alien legacy and take things in new directions beyond the core Ridley Scott movies…
But First, Will Prometheus 3 or Alien: Covenant 2 Ever Happen?
Neither of the upcoming Alien projects are directly tied to the prequel series of movies shepherded by Ridley Scott. The David 8-centric xenomorph and humanity origin stories Prometheus and Alien: Covenant were divisive to say the least, with their focus on heady philosophical and societal themes leaning away from what made the original films so good in the first place.
In an interview with Forbes in 2020, Scott expressed his doubts that we’d ever get another film set in the prequel timeline: “We went down a route to try and reinvent the wheel with Prometheus and Covenant. Whether or not we go directly back to that is doubtful because Prometheus woke it up very well. But you know, you’re asking fundamental questions like, ‘Has the Alien himself, the facehugger, the chestburster, have they all run out of steam? Do you have to rethink the whole bloody thing and simply use the word to franchise?’ That’s always the fundamental question.”
Whatever you may think about these two films creatively, Alien: Covenant‘s poor box office performance was likely the nail in the coffin for this ambitious expansion. The second movie made only $241 million globally. Compare that to Prometheus‘ $403 million despite not having Alien in its title.
In other words, Covenant is likely the last you’ll see of Michael Fassbender’s android with a god complex.
Fede Álvarez’s Alien Movie on Hulu
While Covenant seems to have put an end to the franchise’s big-screen ambitions for the time being, there is an upcoming Alien film headed to Hulu, produced by Scott and directed by Don’t Breathe director Fede Álvarez, who also co-wrote the script with Rodo Sayagues. Announced last year and still untitled, the film was pitched to Scott by Álvarez, who left such a big impression that Scott agreed to produce and help get the project greenlit by 20th Century Studios.
The movie is reportedly “unconnected” to past installments, meaning it can go its own way without having to tie into any of the main four films or the more recent prequels. The project stars Cailee Spaeny, Isabela Merced, David Jonsson, Archie Renaux, Spike Fearn and Aileen Wu as a group of young people trying to survive on a distant space colony being stalked by a xenomorp, according to THR. Shooting began in March in Budapest and is expected to wrap sometime in June (unless the ongoing writers strike has delayed those plans).
Studio head Steve Asbell explained to THR that the decision to stream the movie as opposed to releasing it theatrically was made to give Álvarez more creative freedom to make the movie he wants to make. According to Asbell, releasing a movie theatrically is a higher-stakes endeavor that often requires movies to be altered to appeal to mass audiences, which isn’t necessarily the case for movies released primarily on streaming platforms. On Hulu, “It’s not a film that has to be all things to all people,” Asbell said.
This approach makes sense, especially considering the success of Prey, which was released on Hulu to rave reviews from both fans and critics. That movie certainly felt like a fully-realized, artistically unencumbered final product that took risks and pointed the Predator franchise in a new direction. The fact that 20th Century is giving Álvarez’s film similar treatment is a good sign.
Another reason to look forward to Álvarez’s take on Alien is that he’s already proved himself to be capable of updating iconic series for modern audiences. His 2013 remake of Evil Dead paid homage to Sam Raimi’s original classics while expressing a new, unique style of horror filmmaking.
At the time of publication, no release date has been set for the film.
Noah Hawley’s Alien TV Series on FX
In addition to producing Álvarez’s Alien movie, Scott is also producing a forthcoming TV series (also currently untitled) to air on FX, headed up by Fargo and Legion creator Noah Hawley. The series is a prequel set on Earth but is said be tonally in step with the first two films in the franchise. On a TCA panel, FX chairman John Landgraf confirmed that the series will take place prior to the first two movies, and will make reference to series megacorporation Weyland-Yutani, but will be set in an area of the world where another corporation, Prodigy Corporation, created exclusively for the show, will be more prominent.
The series will star Sydney Chandler, who you’ve seen in Danny Boyle’s Pistol and Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, but FX has yet to announce the rest of the cast. The show was scheduled to begin filming this year in Thailand, but it’s unclear whether plans have changed due to the writers strike.
Hawley’s aim for the series is to “go back and figure out what made the franchise so great and so durable in the first place and see if he could find an experience that felt like walking into the theater and seeing one of the first to movies,” according to Landgraf. While details of the show’s plot have not been divulged, Landgraf did seem to indicate that setting the story on Earth would largely dictate the show’s overarching themes. “We have to think forward about the future of the planet in terms of the environment, governance, [and] technology and create and design a version of the planet in the future.”
In 2022, concept art for the TV show allegedly leaked, depicting a xenomorph claiming a victim in what looks to be some kind of tubular elevator shaft, a Weyland-Yutani ship called the USCSS Maginot crash-landed in the streets of a Prodigy-controlled city, and a group of soldiers happening upon a host of alien eggs in what looks to be a factory. The tone of the images is decidedly dark and definitely evokes terror and suspense, which should be a welcome indication for fans.
No premiere date has been set as of yet.
Alien 5: Will Sigourney Weaver Ever Return as Ripley?
In an interview with THR, longtime Alien producer Walter Hill all but shot down prospects for a return to the franchise for Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, saying that Disney rejected a pitch he and producer David Giler made for an Alien 5 that would feature Weaver reprising her role as Ripley. “The people at Disney…have expressed no interest in going down that road,” he explained.
Believe it or not, a fifth Alien movie has been pitched at least three times in the past. James Cameron had interest in returning to the series in the late ‘90s alongside Scott, but said in a 2006 interview that he began to pen a script for a fifth Aliens but backed out when he heard Universal was making Aliens vs. Predator. “..that was like Frankenstein Meets Werewolf,” the director said. “It was Universal just taking their assets and starting to play them off against each other.” Cameron felt that the direction of the series didn’t fit his vision, though he later admitted that he actually ended up liking AVP.
Joss Whedon also had plans to return to the series after penning Alien: Resurrection, with his version of Alien 5 featuring an earthbound continuation of the Ripley-centered story. But Weaver effectively put the kibosh on the project when she rejected the premise of an Alien movie set on Earth. For fans whose interest is piqued by the concept, they thankfully have the Hulu series to look forward to.
Weaver did express interest in returning to the series when Neill Blomkamp (District 9) announced in the early 2010s that he was working on his own concept for the fifth film, rumored to be titled Alien: Awakening. The film was said to be set shortly after the events of Aliens, essentially disregarding Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection altogether. But when Blomkamp’s hype train started slowing down and 20th Century opted to continue the series with Scott’s prequels, the project was shelved. Blomkamp told The Independent in 2021 that he assumed the project was “completely dead,” which as prognoses go, is about as bleak as they come.