The Alien franchise turns 40 this year and with the Disney/Fox merger on the horizon, we’re hopeful that we’ll see some new movies in the near future. Disney seems to be interested in continuing IP that has a large fanbase and the Alien movies feel like something that deserves some fresh eyes from someone like Disney’s Alan Horn. Disney CEO Bob Iger alluded to in his recent earnings call last week that they are open to giving 20th Century Fox autonomy concerning continuing to make/release mature content, which could mean that Kingsman, Die Hard, Alien and Predator movies are likely to stay R-rated.
“We do believe there is room for the Fox properties to exist without significant Disney influence over the nature of the content. Meaning that we see that there certainly popularity amongst Marvel fans for the R-rated Deadpool films, for instance, we’re going to continue in that business, and there might be room for more of that.”
Alien might be one of the more profitable R-rated franchises out there as it’s merchandise has been released consistently for years, NECA has a profitable line of toys along with the in-canon video game Alien: Isolation selling an impressive 2.1 million copies. It certainly would make sense that once the merger closes that Disney wants movement on a new movie.
James Cameron is another set of fresh eyes that the franchise needs at this point and it wouldn’t be terribly shocking given his experience with Aliens and he also tried to make a fifth movie two decades ago.
I’m not sure many fans are aware that James Cameron once did get involved with a completely different Alien 5 incarnation years ago with Ridley Scott expected to direct and Cameron helping out on the script. Producers and Fox instead pivoted to Paul W.S. Anderson’s PG-13 Alien Vs Predator instead. Cameron was extremely soured on the experience (along with how AVP turned out) and essentially walked away from the franchise. Ridley Scott would eventually rework the project into Alien Origins/Prometheus and to the delight of the franchise’s producers removed Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from it entirely.
In 2014, James Cameron mentioned the whole ordeal on a Reddit AMA.
“We never talked about [doing] ‘Alien 3,’ ” Cameron said. “I don’t remember the timing exactly, but I might have been making ‘The Abyss‘ at that time, also for Fox. What came up was the idea of doing ‘Alien 5,’ and at one point I pitched that I would write it and produce it, and Ridley would direct it, and we had lunch talking about this, and we were in violent agreement, then nothing happened. What happened was Fox went ahead with ‘Aliens Vs Predator,’ and I said, ‘I really don’t recommend that, you’ll ruin the franchise, it’s like Universal doing ‘Dracula versus the Werewolf,’ ‘ and then I lost interest in doing an Alien film. But ‘Prometheus’ is seen as the A-level alien, as opposed to rather, the derivative. I don’t think I have anything to offer on the ‘Prometheus’ sequels, that’s Ridley’s, I think I’ll stick to the ‘Avatar’ universe.”
Producers had been going out of their way to remove Weaver from the Alien movies over the years with the original incarnation of Alien 3 to focus on Michael Biehn’s Hicks (he refused and then was killed-off) and Alien Resurrection would have been a clone of Newt in early versions.
His interest may have been re-energized thanks to Neill Blomkamp’s Alien 5 script. James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver had publicly stated at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 at their Aliens 30th Anniversary Panel that they had both read the script. It certainly left an impression on Jim as he seemingly used the retconning aspect from the Alien 5 script for Terminator: Dark Fate, that will, of course, ignore the sequels that were released after Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
“I think it works gangbusters. He shared it with me, and I think it’s a very strong script and he could go make it tomorrow,” Cameron stated. “I don’t know anything about the production, and I don’t know what Ridley [Scott]’s doing. But hopefully, there’ll be room for both of them. Like parallel universes.”
Sigourney Weaver would later go on to suggest that Ridley Scott asked Blomkamp to hold-off on Alien 5, so his Prometheus sequel could go forward and she then again reaffirmed that a script exists.
Well, I *think* it is. Ridley asked Neill NOT to make our Alien til after Prometheus 2. He (Ridley) wanted his movie to shoot and be released first. But it’s an AMAZING script, and Neill and I are REALLY excited about doing it. We’re doing other things until we can get going on that. I’d be really surprised if we DIDN’T do it because it’s such a great script, and we love working together. So, it’s just going to take a little bit longer to get out to you, but it’ll be worth the wait.
Back in October, Weaver stated to TheHollywoodReporter that she is still interested and mentioned that James Cameron thought it was a great idea. Hopefully, Sigourney nudged him enough to get involved.
“We almost started to do it when I was working with James Cameron. But by the time we were put off by Fox, Neill had gotten so many jobs that we’d have to wait probably. I’m busy doing Avatar 4 and 5. I love working with Neill and I think he’d do a terrific job, and James Cameron really thinks it’s a great idea, so you never know. Right now, I think Neill’s got like three projects going at once.”
Alien: Covenant’s weak box office returns (Prometheus made $403 million vs Alien: Covenant earning $241 million) sadly pumped the breaks on Ridley Scott’s prequel films and could be a blessing in disguise. Fans like myself have been waiting 22 years for the return of Ellen Ripley, and I remember clearly my disappointment when 20th Century Fox went with AVP over Alien 5. I think once Weaver completes work on the next two Avatar sequels that Disney/Fox really should consider jumping on this before it’s too late.
While speaking with IGN on the red carpet for Alita: Battle Angel, James Cameron seemingly revealed he was “working on” calling up Neill Blomkamp about getting Alien 5 back into development. This has given many fans hope that Jim could attach himself as a producer not unlike he has recently with Alita: Battle Angel directed by Robert Rodriguez and Tim Miller’s upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate that Jim had a hand in during the development phases.
Disney is certainly into these kinds of nostalgia projects all you have to do is look at Tron: Legacy and Star Wars: The Force Awakens for examples of them, it also feels little more commercially viable than to continue the David Saga that could easily wait a couple of years before that is explored. Ridley Scott is going to be busy with his android series Raised By Wolves (feels like his android itch will be scratched there), according to lead actor contract information we’ve seen TNT wants this series to continue between 4-5 seasons. Scott also has multiple film projects including Disney’s Merlin Saga and I don’t see how Alien: Awakening is greenlit after the box office hiccups from Covenant that doesn’t make sense financially at the moment.
There is a glimmer of wiggle-room for Neill Blomkamp to return to the project as he recently exited STX Entertainment’s Greenland and is expected to tackle RoboCop Returns next (a direct sequel to the 1987 film). The bigger question is, would James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver along with fans supporting him returning be enough to convince him?
Neill also posted this vague tweet on Twitter after the news broke about leaving Greenland.
Working on a horror
— Neill Blomkamp (@NeillBlomkamp) February 10, 2019
I think giving Ripley a proper ending is in the best interest for Disney and is certainly an easier marketing task for Fox than the Ridley Scott movies have been because you’ll have the iconic matriarch of Ripley front-and-center with the real versions of the xenomorphs back instead of the proto versions. Cameron and Blomkamp both share the experience of their versions of Alien 5 not getting made, possibly combining forces might be the way to go to finally get it onto screens.