Over the years, sci-fi fans have been treated to all manner of extra-terrestrial torments, but none have had anywhere near the terrifying impact of the Alien franchise’s iconic Xenomorphs. Ever since they made their cinematic debut in Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece Alien, the jet-black creatures with eyeless faces and acidic blood have become the stuff of nightmares for generations of moviegoers. From creepy eggs and arachnid-like facehuggers to larval chestbursters and fully-fledged killing machines, they truly are one of the greatest cinematic monstrosities of all time.
Yet while things have been quiet on the Alien front since the release of Scott’s last prequel film, 2017’s Alien: Covenant, 20th Century Studios are now looking to get back into the chestbursting business with not one, but two projects currently in development (and a third currently sitting in the wings). So why don’t we take a closer look at what fans can look forward to.
While it is not clear whether Alien: Romulus is a production code-name or placeholder title, what is known is that filming on the next Alien movie officially got underway in Budapest in March this year. Set to star Pacific Rim Uprising’s Cailee Spaeny in an as-yet-unnamed role, other announced cast members include Dora and the Lost City of Gold’s Isabela Merced and Shadow and Bone’s Archie Renaux.
Helmed by 2013’s Evil Dead reboot director Fede Álvarez, details surrounding the film’s plot are scant, but it is being touted as a standalone film not directly connected with any previous entries in the franchise. This marks a decidedly different approach from Neill Blomkamp’s scrapped plans for a legacy sequel which reportedly would have retroactively ignored everything after 1986’s Aliens and featured the return of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley.
While no official release date has yet been set, if production on the new film goes smoothly audiences should expect to see it arrive sometime in 2024. Rather than a theatrical release, however, it is widely expected that the now Disney-owned 20th Century Studios will follow the example set by their recent Predator prequel Prey and are potentially looking at an exclusive streaming release.
Alien TV Series
In addition to Álvarez’s upcoming movie, Alien fans can also look forward to a new TV series set to be helmed by Fargo creator Noah Hawley. Earlier this month John Landgraf, Chairman of FX Networks, confirmed that scripts for Season 1 of the as-yet-untitled show have been completed and that filming is expected to get underway later this year.
The first Alien franchise story to take place on Earth (not including the Alien Vs Predator crossover movies), the series will take place toward the end of the 21st Century decades before the events of the first Alien film. Hawley himself has intimated that the series will explore the impact of new technologies being developed in direct competition with the infamous Weyland-Yutani Corporation. Various rumours also suggest that the private military force of the Prodigy Corporation, one of Weyland-Yutani’s main competitors, will play a significant role in the story.
In 2012 Scott returned to the sci-fi franchise he helped build with an unexpected prequel film Prometheus. While the film performed well at the box office and largely resonated with critics, many long-term fans of the franchise were disappointed the film’s connections to the origins of the Xenomorphs were not as explicit as they had initially hoped. Seemingly taking heed of this criticism, Scott returned to helm 2017’s Alien: Covenant which revealed Michael Fassbender’s android David 8 as the one ultimately responsible for bringing the deadly species to life.
Scott had initially planned to follow on from this film with a third entry in his Prometheus trilogy dubbed Alien: Awakening. Written while production on Alien: Covenant was underway, the director had previously revealed that the film would lead directly into the events of 1979’s original Alien movie. Unfortunately, however, movement on the film has since stalled and it is not yet clear whether fans will ever get the opportunity to see the third prequel.
Perhaps with the interest in the franchise being reignited by Alien: Romulus and the new TV series, Scott will finally get the green light to finish his intended trilogy. Either way, there is still plenty for fans of the Alien franchise to get excited about!