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Although Ridley Scott once said that Alien had “almost run out”, there’s still life in the beast yet, with the franchise’s long-time director and producer confirming a sequel to Prometheus and Alien: Covenant is in the pipeline. According to a report by Variety, Scott is returning to the franchise once more to helm the third prequel, over forty years on from his 1979 original.
It might be early days for the follow-up, with it only just reaching script stages, but this news alone should offer some relief for the fans who were unsure of the fate of the franchise in the wake of the Disney-Fox merger, not to mention the underwhelming box-office earnings of the last instalment – $240 million globally, a sharp drop from the $403 million Prometheus made in 2012.
Now a third is happening, what else do we know about the film? First, let’s clear up the title, as calling it Alien 3 is going to cause confusion for obvious reasons. While we don’t have confirmation, before Covenant flopped its way through theatres, Scott suggested the next film in the Xenomorph franchise would be called Alien: Awakening.
The timeline is a little foggy, or at least it is if his 2017 interview with Fandango is anything to go by. "There will be another one before we kind of literally and logically, clockwise, back into the rear back head of [the original] Alien," he said.
Confusingly, he went on to claim the order of the films would be “Prometheus, Awakening, Covenant”, before adding, “If this [Covenant] is successful, and then the next one, and then there will definitely be three more."
A lot has changed since then (including the flop), so it could be that Scott’s statements are now obsolete. Nothing is confirmed aside from the fact that it’s got the greenlight, but for now Alien: Awakening is the strongest contender for the title.
Regarding the plot, Empire’s Alien anniversary special issue reported that screenwriter John Logan has already written the script, suggesting it focuses on the Engineers seeking revenge against Michael Fassbender’s android David for the Paradise genocide, which would eventually lead the characters to LV-426, the planet where Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo first came across the OG facehuggers.
And as we know, the genocide left behind some survivors who are, understandably, pissed. “Logan’s script would have seen the return of Prometheus’ Engineers, with that species’ survivors coming after the genocidal David,” wrote Empire. “Setting-wise, Scott said it was obvious ‘We’re gonna actually go to the planet’, by which we assume he means LV-426.”
This would certainly make sense to the timeline, as it would connect the recent films back to the start of the original. Plus, Fassbender recently said he’d be all in if the film were to bring his character back.
Speaking to Bad Taste, the Dark Phoenix actor said: “I would love to. I absolutely love working with Ridley. That was a real moment for me when I stepped on the set of Prometheus and got to work with him. I love the character. It’s a lot of fun, so I would definitely enjoy that.”
So at least we know Fassbender will pick up the phone should Scott make the call. As for other cast members, Katherine Waterston – whose Janet Daniels is one of the survivors of Covenant – said she is game for Alien: Awakening if it gets the go-ahead (which we now know it has).
“I would be absolutely game to do more if they wanted to have me. But that’s all I know,” she told The Playlist. “I’m sure they’ve changed their minds anyway. And there’s been probably loads of different ideas going around and everything. But just in case I spoil something by talking about it, I wouldn’t dare.”
Returning cast members aside, we also know of Scott’s interest in moving the franchise away from extraterrestrials and towards the threat of AI. “I think what we have to do is gradually drift away from the alien stuff," he revealed in the wake of the Covenant hubbub. "People say, 'You need more alien, you need more face pulling, need more chest bursting,' so I put a lot of that in Covenant and it fitted nicely.
"But I think if you go again you need to start finding another solution that's more interesting. I think AI is becoming much more dangerous and therefore more interesting." He’s not wrong there, although time will tell whether this is the direction Scott and co take with the upcoming instalment. AI or not, let’s hope the film can bring the franchise back to its chest-bursting glory.
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