Don’t Hold Your Breath: Neill Blomkamp’s ‘Alien 5’ is on Hold
It may be difficult for some of us to admit, but our beloved Alien franchise has been floundering for decades. Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) are considered cinematic classics, but the films that followed have been disappointing, controversial, financial duds, or some combination of all three. (Although David Fincher’s Alien 3 did, eventually, earn some appreciation over time.)
So it was with great excitement that filmmaker Neill Blomkamp announced, earlier this year, that he was working on Alien 5. The film would, like the mega hit Jurassic World, ignore the problematic sequels and follow the beloved, popular movies directly. Although most have been referring to Blomkamp’s film as “Alien 5,” it would functionally operate more like a brand new Alien 3, bringing back old characters like Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Lance Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn) in new ways.
It sounded like such a great idea. Nevertheless, as of yesterday, the production seems to have officially been halted. The disappointing development was confirmed by Neill Blomkamp himself, via Twitter:
alien is kinda holding/ pending prometheus 2. So I shall be working on other things… as much as I love the xeno- and Lt ripley
— Иeill BlomkΛmp (@NeillBlomkamp) October 30, 2015
Prometheus 2, recently retitled Alien: Paradise Lost, is Ridley Scott’s follow-up to the Alien prequel released in 2012. Although the first Prometheus was not necessarily popular with die hard fans of the series, it was one of the most popular films in the franchise, earning over $403 million at the international box office.
In comparison, the more recent Alien movies were duds. Neither Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, Alien vs. Predator or Alien vs. Predator: Requiem came close to crossing the $200 million threshold. So it makes sense that 20th Century Fox would commit to Ridley Scott’s new, successful series over Blomkamp’s sequel to an existing continuity that wasn’t exactly raking in the cash.
It makes sense, but it’s lame anyway. If Jurassic World taught us anything it’s that audiences want to see classic series return to their crowd pleasing roots. If Blomkamp could have created a thematic follow-up to the action classic Aliens, as it appeared he was trying to do, it might have been a blockbuster that dwarfed even Prometheus‘s numbers.
But that would be a gamble, and let us not forget that filmmaking is a business first and foremost. Let us also not forget that we don’t know the whole story here, and that it’s entirely possible that Blomkamp’s Alien 5 wasn’t progressing as well behind the scenes as we all would have hoped. And it probably didn’t help that the filmmaker’s last movie, Chappie, failed to catch fire with audiences.
Photos: 20th Century Fox
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.