Typical. You wait years for a decent Alien film to turn up, and then Ridley Scott promises three at once.
Earlier this month, 20th Century Fox announced that Scott's Prometheus sequel/Alien prequel had gained a new title - switching from (the frankly daft) Alien: Paradise Lost to the almost as daft Alien: Covenant.
"Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created in ALIEN with ALIEN: COVENANT," explained the release, "the second chapter in a prequel trilogy that began with PROMETHEUS - and connects directly to Scott’s 1979 seminal work of science fiction."
There followed details of the plot line:
"Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world - whose sole inhabitant is the 'synthetic' David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition."
So, Covenant would appear to be a direct Prometheus sequel that would doubtless hint at new possibilities of where the original film's xenomorphs came from, in exchange for more questions over what happened to Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), the other survivor of the Prometheus expedition. Simple, right?
Ridley Scott himself has now muddied the waters, stating that there will be a further three prequel films - a new trilogy, arching between Prometheus and the original Alien.
"Its a very complex story. Its an evolution of what I first did with Prometheus 1," Scott said at a press conference early this week in Sydney, Australia. "Prometheus 1 was borne out of my frustration that on Alien 1 in 1979 - I only did one as I don’t normally do sequels. I was amazed that in the three that followed that no-one asked the question ‘why the Alien, who made it and why?’ Very basic questions. So I came up with the notion of Prometheus 1, which starts to indicate who might have made it and where it came from.
"So I’m now going to the next one, which is the next evolution directly connected with the first one, which was this Shaw, when she replaced Michael Fassbender in two pieces and we’ll kind of pick it up there and it will evolve. When that’s finished there’ll be another one and then another one which will gradually drive into the back entrance of the film in 1979."
So that mean's we'll have a timeline of:
- Alien: Covenant
- Alien: Covenant 2 (or something)
- Alien: Covenant 3 (again, something)
- Alien - 1979
All clear? Good.
Mercifully, some of the biggest questions of the rapidly expanding franchise will gain clarity.
"So in other words, why was this space jockey there and why did he have an alien inside him? And those questions will be answered," Scott assured.
And as for Neill Blomkamp's Alien sequel? It looks like that's still on hold, caught up in the various wranglings of the new prequel trilogy.
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— Neill Blomkamp (@NeillBlomkamp) October 30, 2015
So long as all subsequent additions to the Alien franchise hold more in common with Scott's seminal 1979 piece, and less with 2004's lamentable Alien vs Predator, we'll be happy.