The future of the Alien franchise is in a state of flux at the moment, but Ridley Scott’s plans for the next movie—if it ever gets made—are quite interesting. Scott returned to the sci-fi genre and the franchise that launched his career with the 2012 prequel Prometheus, which spurred a bevy of hot takes but grossed over $400 million worldwide. That’s not bad for an R-rated sci-fi thriller about the meaning of life, so 20th Century Fox greenlit a follow-up with Scott returning. That film was 2017’s Alien: Covenant, a mixed bag of a sequel where Scott kind of backtracked and tried to give fans what he thought they wanted: more xenomorph, less philosophy.
While Covenant has its fans, the film grossed only a fraction of what Prometheus made, bringing in a mere $240 million worldwide. That’s not an out and out disaster (although the film didn’t even crack $100 million domestic), but the drop from its previous installment was disappointing for Fox, leaving the future of the franchise in doubt.
In the wake of Covenant’s release, word broke that Fox was “reassessing” the future of the Alien franchise, even though Scott had already pitched two more sequels that he wanted to make. In fact, months before Covenant even hit theaters Scott said the next movie was already written. And now, thanks to Empire (via HN Entertainment and /Film), we have an idea of what the Alien: Covenant sequel would be.
Penned by John Logan, who co-wrote Alien: Covenant, the follow-up film is called Alien: Awakening and would pick up after the end Covenant and follow Michael Fassbender‘s David as he brought the franchise full circle, back to the planet we first saw in the original Alien:
“Logan’s script would have seen the return of Prometheus’ Engineers, with that species’ survivors coming after the genocidal David. Setting-wise, Scott said it was obvious ‘We’re gonna actually go to the planet’. by which we assume he means LV-426.”
It always felt like there was more to be done with the Engineers, and indeed that was Scott’s original plan for Prometheus 2 before he changed course. Around the time of Prometheus’ release, here’s what Scott said about the sequel:
“Because [the Engineers] are such aggressive fuckers … and who wouldn’t describe them that way, considering their brilliance in making dreadful devices and weapons that would make our chemical warfare look ridiculous? So I always had it in there that the God-like creature that you will see actually is not so nice, and is certainly not God. As she says, ‘This is not what I thought it was going to be, and I think we should get the Hell out of here or there won’t be any place to go back to.’
That’s not necessarily planted in the ground at the tail end of the third act, but I knew that’s kind of where we should go, because if we’ve opened up this door — which I hope we have because I certainly would like to do another one – I’d love to explore where the hell [Dr. Shaw] goes next and what does she do when she gets there, because if it is paradise, paradise can not be what you think it is. Paradise has a connotation of being extremely sinister and ominous.”
As we now know, Scott killed off Noomi Rapace’s character Dr. Shaw in Covenant, so we’re now left with only David. It’s unclear what, exactly, Scott has/had planned for when David does confront the Engineers, but again around the time of Prometheus the filmmaker spilled the beans on the franchise’s religious ties, saying that it would be revealed that the Engineers previously sent an emissary down to make humanity behave, and the emissary’s name was Jesus Christ:
“We definitely did [have that in the script], and then we thought it was a little too on the nose. But if you look at it as an ‘our children are misbehaving down there’ scenario, there are moments where it looks like we’ve gone out of control, running around with armor and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, ‘Lets send down one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it.’ Guess what? They crucified him.’”
Again, Scott’s plans and ideas have evolved a lot since Prometheus was released, so there’s no guarantee this is in the cards. And perhaps more importantly, we don’t even know if Scott will be allowed to finish out this franchise. Covenant’s box office tells the studio that audiences aren’t interested in the direction Scott’s take is going, so it’s more likely that we’re in store for a reboot or remake of some sort in a few years. Of course Disney’s acquisition of Fox becomes official in January, so the new corporate overlords no doubt have plans of their own for one of Fox’s most valuable franchises.
For now, for fans of the weird places Scott was taking this franchise, it’s interesting to hear where he wanted to take this series. And it’s not as if he’s waiting idly by to make another Alien movie—he’s weighing his next project as either a Merlin movie for Disney or a Gladiator sequel.