Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox along with their film studio 20th Century Fox has led to some questions concerning the fate of film franchises like Alien and Predator. Many fans have incorrectly assumed that Disney will shelve all R-rated projects despite vocal public statements from Bob Iger that they plan on continuing mature franchises like Deadpool and Kingsman. They seeming alluded that Fox would continue to make their mature content without hindrance from Disney, which makes sense as 20th Century Fox is one of the few studios to make/release profitable R-rated tentpoles.
As it stands, the studio hadn’t exactly had priority development on future film installments despite talk from Predator producer John Davis and Ridley Scott’s public statements concerning his multiple Alien sequels. The last couple of years haven’t been too kind to 20th Century Fox’s Alien and Predator franchises as the pair has had recent box office hiccups.
Prometheus had previously earned an impressive $403 million globally despite the mixed reactions when it originally released. On the other hand, Alien: Covenant had a budget that cost $33 million less than Prometheus, but it still struggled at the box office only earning $241 million.
Unlike the Alien franchise, the box office hasn’t always been a big part of the Predator franchise and this has been re-enforced as the last two installments haven’t made a huge splash. Shane Black’s recent release The Predator with a budget of $88 million has struggled with a global cume of $160 million after extra spending on reshoots and a healthy amount of cash flowed into its marketing that likely isn’t enough to turn a profit. It opened domestically at $24.6 million, which is pretty much on par with Predators $24.7 million domestic opening eight years earlier. Although, The Predator has earned more than Predators total global cume of $127 million.
Producer John Davis had suggested there could be a trilogy but that remains to be seen.
On the Alien front, looking at these numbers it would suggest that the studio isn’t ready to rush Ridley Scott’s plans to make one or two more films in his Prometheus saga (including Alien: Awakening). There had been previous reports that he would try to develop ideas with Fox’s new head Emma Watts before her promotion but there haven’t been any concrete updates since.
While writer-director Neill Blomkamp has gone on the record that he’s moved on from Alien 5 after it was killed. Actress Sigourney Weaver recently suggested that she would be interested in revisiting the project once she’s finished with the next two Avatar sequels and if/when Blomkamp completes his own films that keep piling up with Greenland starring Chris Evans next and Orion’s RoboCop Returns afterward.
The purposed project would have been more of a direct sequel to Aliens with Hicks, Newt, and Bishop resurrected after being killed off in the third film, Alien 5 would also lead to a hypothetical sixth film that would see an adult Newt takeover from Ripley.
Avatar/Aliens director James Cameron called Neill’s Alien 5 script “gangbusters” at the Aliens 30th Anniversary panel during San Diego Comic-Con in July 2016. If Cameron came on board to produce the film it could easily find new life as Jim pulls a lot of weight.
Disney has been keen on the idea of the soft-reboot looking at projects like Tron: Legacy and The Force Awakens/The Last Jedi having original actors return to usher-in new characters. Alan Horn and Bob Iger might be more inclined to bring back Weaver’s Ellen Ripley for one more movie than previous leadership at 20th Century Fox.
Earlier in the year, I caught word at OmegaUnderground that there had been some interest to develop a television series set in the Alien Universe. At the time, it was pointing towards a streaming series but a home wasn’t named. Disney+ seems to be unlikely as Bob Iger has said repeatedly that their streaming service would be for more family-friendly content, which would leave out mature projects as the Alien franchise is known as being R-rated due to the violence and gore.
A way to keep these franchises alive while giving the films some rest would be tackling limited-series or streaming series. Both Predator and Alien could be serialized given the right budget and creatives involved. It would make more sense for Hulu or FX to potentially tackle them if not licensed to Amazon due to their horror and mature elements.
A series focused on the Colonial Marines could make a fantastic show and you wouldn’t even need the xenomorphs to make a compelling series as they travel across the multiple off-world colonies.
There is plenty of existing expanded universe material that could be looked at for adaption such as the popular video game Alien: Isolation that followed Ellen’s daughter Amanda Ripley (referenced in Aliens). The character has already crossed over into the Dark Horse Comics with Alien: Resistance, so they might as well give her a series too. Amanda could be an interesting heiress to the franchise, while Blomkamp had planned on giving the keys to an adult Newt in his Alien movies.
The great thing about Isolation is that the xenomorph isn’t the only threat Amanda is up against. It could end up being Walking Dead in space if handled properly.
It should be noted that Disney won’t be able to do anything with either of these projects until the merger completes its international process and likely won’t be announcing anything until then.