It wasn’t all that long ago that the prospects for the Alien franchise looked a lot different than they do right now. After the wet blanket that was Prometheus, it wasn’t all that clear that 20th Century Fox was going to plow on through with director Ridley Scott’s vision of prequel after prequel exploring the origins of the Xenomorphs and Engineers of the first movie. In fact, for a while there, we were told to expect a long-awaited return to form for a franchise that had long since lost its way.
In 2015, up-and-coming Sci-Fi legend Neill Blomkamp — best known for is work on District 9, Chappie and Elysium — released concept art for the proposed film on his Instagram. It was breathtaking stuff: suggesting a merger of the transhumanist themes his movies are known for an the body horror that’s always been a staple of the series. They were vivid, imaginative and truly the stuff of nightmares.
In interviews that followed, Blomkamp and his collaborators fleshed out more of what we could expect from the film. It would be directed by the South African film director, produced by series mainstay Ridley Scott and feature — at least in some capacity — Sigourney Weaver. It would also completely ignore the lackluster Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection: existing as an original, direct sequel to 1986’s Aliens.
Among the art shared by Blomkamp was some kind of hybrid between Ripley and the Xenomorph: something that was spectacularly botched in Resurrection. We also got pictures of an adult Newt, a character infamously killed offscreen in Alien 3. And of course, we had new and fascinating forms for the Xenomorph to take on
There was supposedly a script in the works that everybody involved — particularly Sigourney Weaver — was excited about. It was to be filmed and released after Alien: Covenant, presumably for a 2018 or 2019 release date. And as you can see from the concept art he had commissioned for it, it promised to take the best aspects of the franchise into boldly original directions.
And then… nothing. After that initial surge of excitement — after getting everybody’s hopes up for a true Aliens successor that had nothing at all to do with ancient aliens and force mythology — we heard scarcely more than a whisper about the whole affair.
During recent Alien: Covenant interviews, Ridley Scott has shed some light on the silence — and evident cancellation — of Blomkamp’s promised Alien sequel. He stated:
“I don’t think it will ever see the light of day. There was never a script. Just an idea that evolved from a dozen or so pages. I had to participate as producer, but it didn’t go farther because Fox decided it didn’t want to do it. As far I was concerned, I had already done Prometheus and I was working on Covenant.”
While I’m all for giving the man the benefit of the doubt, this simply doesn’t jive with what we’ve previously been told about the film: which supposedly had a full script and stars attached who had read and approved of said script. And if the last three movies in the franchise are any indication, Fox clearly has no idea what makes a good Alien movie.