Disney recently hinted that the company was looking into expanding the Alien franchise, after acquiring 20th Century Fox and all of its major properties. In a new interview, Alien director Ridley Scott has confirmed talks are underway but says the only way to keep the spaceship afloat is to evolve the franchise.
Scott chatted with the Hollywood Reporter about the 40-year legacy of Alien, a film that’s still so beloved it recently inspired a tabletop roleplaying game and a high school adaptation. During the interview, he talked about how one of the things that worked the most about Alien was how unique it was. Even though it’s spawned a giant, ever-expanding franchise, in his mind, the first movie will always be the peak and pinnacle of the saga.
“There’s only ever the one,” he said. “It’s like trying to do a sequel to 2001. Fundamentally, you can’t. Really, with the greatest respect to Star Wars, the best film by far is the one that George directed, right? By miles. It was unique. It was absolutely wonderful to me. It was the fairy story of all fairy stories in space. And to follow through is a tough call. So, same with Alien.”
Over the past few decades, Alien has spawned several sequels, some of which have been (cough cough) better received than others. But after 2017's disappointing Alien: Covenant, the franchise looked to be taking a break. Now, it seems like things are going to continue. During CinemaCon in April, Disney said it was looking into expanding many of Fox’s most popular franchises, like Deadpool, X-Men, and, yes, Alien. Sources previously indicated that Scott’s production company was participating in early talks – he told THR that discussions are happening for future projects, though he didn’t confirm whether he would be directly involved with any of them (although it’s pretty safe to assume he would). But with that came a bit of advice.
According to Scott, one of the biggest reasons films like Alien vs. Predator (which he called a “daft idea”) have failed is because they rely too much on repeating the same formula. He said the movies need to grow and evolve past the traditional “beast” model in order to stay interesting and relevant.
He used his 2012 prequel Prometheus as a comparison. He said that by not showing the alien until the end, Prometheus was doing something different with a familiar storyline. Whether or not it worked in that case is up to the viewer (he called the movie “not bad actually”). But it did take a risk – something he hopes to see other movies do, instead of just repeating the “egg, monster, death” thing we’ve seen over and over again.
“The alien is uniquely attached to Mother Nature. It simply comes off a wood beetle that will lay eggs inside some unsuspecting insect. And in so doing, the form of the egg will become the host for this new creature. That’s hideous. But that was what it was. And you can’t keep repeating that because the joke gets boring,” Scott said.
A restored version of Alien returned to cinemas in March to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film’s release.
Featured image: 20th Century Fox