Let's track the Alien franchise real quick.
Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien film introduced Ellen Ripley as a part of a commercial starship crew that investigates a mysterious planet, eventually encountering the titular alien. Though it kills the rest of the crew, Ripley bests the creature and puts herself in stasis in an escape pod for the journey home.
James Cameron's 1986 sequel Aliens picks up after Ripley is recovered, having been in stasis for almost 60 years. No one believes her horrifying story, and even worse, she finds out that the planet on which her ship initially encountered the alien is now home to a terraforming colony. When communication is lost with the colony, she accompanies a platoon of marines to the planet. The team suffers great losses when they find a whole host of aliens has taken over the facility, but again, she and a few survivors escape and settle in for the deep sleep home.
Twentieth Century Fox, loath to let the franchise sit, released Alien 3 in 1992. This was a troubled production, although it marked the big-budget debut of a young filmmaker named David Fincher. Ripley's ship experiences a malfunction and crashes into a penal planet, home to innumerable violent offenders. Soon, Ripley and the prisoners realize an alien came to the planet aboard Ripley's ship and that the rescue vessel sent for Ripley is really on its way to collect an alien specimen to turn into biological weaponry. While the prisoners and Ripley combat the alien, she discovers that she's carrying an alien embryo inside of her, which will grow into a queen. Ripley kills herself instead of letting her former company have the alien…and that should be it, right?
|Characters die. Trademarks live forever as long as they make money.|
There are other spinoffs of the franchise, like the ill-fated and ill-advised Alien vs. Predator movies, and Ridley Scott's kinda-sorta prequel Prometheus (which will get its own sequel sometime in the years to come), but these movies make up the core of the Alien franchise.
Enter Neill Blomkamp.
Sigourney Weaver is in Blomkamp's latest film, Chappie, which drops next week. Prior to that working relationship, Blomkamp had developed some ideas for a story set in the Alien universe. He produced concept art, he fleshed out the story, and during some down time in production on Chappie, he got to talking with Weaver about Ellen Ripley and Alien. This got him thinking further, and it turned out that Fox loved his ideas. Although he was unsure about franchise filmmaking, he acquiesced, and this project will be his next film.
The kicker is that this movie will be "connected to," to use the director's own words, the events of Alien and Aliens, perhaps at the expense of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. It would be like how Bryan Singer's Superman Returns ignored everything that came after Richard
Weaver herself is keen on the idea of revisiting Ripley, despite having had a large amount of control over the character's direction for the latter two films. The second half of the Alien quartet was never as well received as the first two installments. Fox's hope is that this revitalizes the franchise.
While initially it was reported that this movie would "ignore" the third and fourth installments of the core Alien franchise, Blomkamp has distanced himself from that idea, saying that because his favorites are those first two movies, that is the material he wanted his idea to connect with. He says he doesn't want to "undo" Alien 3 or Alien: Resurrection. It remains to be seen how to make a "middle sequel" without undoing everything that supposedly comes after.
Whether or not this will tie into other Alien properties, like Prometheus, is unclear but (I would hazard) also unlikely. If this is a continuation of the story begun in Alien(s), it would take place years and years after the events depicted in Prometheus, which was again touted as a sorta-kinda prequel to the franchise.
I suppose, if this is well received and Prometheus 2 does well, AND they don't want to delete Alien 3 and Resurrection from canon, they could attempt to dovetail the stories with some kind of time-travel plot with multiple Ripleys, and then Michael Fassbender's android David can develop some kind of, oh I don't know, "red matter" that artificially creates black holes and an alternate timeline…
Are you excited for more Alien? Anyone else happy that Neill Blomkamp is still hard at work on exciting sci-fi ideas? (Go see Chappie!) All communications are open in the comments below.