Yesterday, it was officially announced that newly minted President of Production at 20th Century Studios, Emma Watts, would be resigning.
It was a little shocking given Watts’ lengthy history with the studio and only recently taking the position after the merger with Disney was finalized last year.
During her time at 20th Century she was integral to the success of films such as Logan, Deadpool, Planet of The Apes trilogy, and even had been recently involved with James Cameron’s Avatar sequels.
There was yet another project in development as well, a third Alien film.
Deadline reported in March of last year that Ridley’s production company Scott Free was indeed developing the next Alien installment and that Fargo/Legion creator Noah Hawley had been trying talk FX into letting him make an Alien series, something that former President Stacey Snider had been reportedly blocking.
Ridley Scott’s Scott Free seems also a good bet to stay: beyond the next Aliens installment that he’s working on, Scott is expected to next direct Merlin, a live-action movie on the formative years of the wizard, for Disney.
Sources said that in the recent past she fended off an attempt by Hawley and FX to take the Aliens franchise and turn it into a miniseries…
At CinemaCon 2019, Emma Watts had highlighted the Alien franchise among others as priorities for the studio which also seemingly echoed Disney’s intentions.
Emma Watts says it's "no secret Disney has the biggest franchises in the business" but points to Kingsman, Alien, Planet of the Apes and Avatar as properties its bringing to the table. #CinemaCon
— Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) April 3, 2019
We got a status update last year directly from Ridley Scott, who confirmed the discussions were underway for future Alien “installments” while speaking with TheHollywoodReporter.
Ruminating on the immediate future of the Alien franchise, now that Disney has acquired 21st Century Fox, Scott confirms that there are discussions for future installments, but warns that if the basic premise of “the beast” does not evolve like the Xenomorph itself, the “joke” gets old.
Michael Fassbender, who has been playing the film’s lead protagonist/antagonist David said last year he’d happily return if asked.
FASSBENDER: “I’d love to. I just absolutely love working with Ridley and it was a real moment for me. When I stepped onto the set of Prometheus and got to work with him, and yeah I love the character. It’s a lot of fun, so yeah.”
I’m very curious what this could mean for this third Alien prequel, which has been referred to as Alien: Awakening. The problem can happen with the changing of studio heads is that sometimes the replacements can end up tossing projects the previous person was directly working on and it is worrisome that the Alien franchise could be possibly put on ice again.
Luckily, with Emma, she had already been working on the franchises that Disney was keen on moving forward with.
Then again, Ridley Scott is about to shoot the drama The Last Duel for 20th Century Studios and had planned on making Disney’s Merlin movie focusing on the adventures of a young Merlin. There is a chance that Scott Free’s development on this next Alien project could march-on after Watts’ exit.
Wes Ball was recently hired by Watts/20th Century to direct a new Planet of The Apes film, so anything is possible.
I guess we’ll have to wait for the next time someone is able to speak with Ridley Scott, Alan Horn or Bob Iger about the Alien franchise.