Alien 5 - Xeno (special early preview)

Ever since the last member of the audience left the cinema after the curtains came down on Alien: Resurrection, the die-hard fans of the franchise were asking questions: “What’s next?”, “Is this the end of the Alien saga?” and “Will there be another sequel?”

Sigourney Weaver, whose participation was considered to be instrumental for any direct sequel, has remained open to a role in a fifth instalment – on the condition that she likes the story.

Film director Joss Whedon (of ‘Firefly’ fame) had even written an Earth-set script for Alien 5, but Weaver was not interested in this setting, and sought to return the story to the planetoid from the first Alien film.

Another film director, James Cameron (who directed ‘Aliens’ – the second instalment of the Alien franchise) expressed an interest in writing the script for a fifth Alien film, but learning of 20th Century Fox’s plans for a crossover ‘Alien vs. Predator’, he ceased work on his screenplay, saying that it would “kill the validity of the franchise”, and that it was “Frankenstein meets Werewolf – like Universal just taking their assets and starting to play them off against each other”. After this, Cameron ruled out any future involvement with the series.

Ridley Scott, who created the Alien universe, was also playing with the idea of returning to the franchise and as far back as 2002 stated that a new Alien project “would be a lot of fun”, but that “the most important thing was to get the story right”. However, Scott later ditched the idea of the sequel and instead started working on a prequel that explained the origin of the ‘Space Jockey’ alien race of giants (later called ‘Engineers’) whose skeleton was found in the derelict spacecraft in the first Alien film. The film, titled Prometheus, was released in 2012 by the 20th Century Fox.

With Ridley Scott starting a new, relatively successful prequel spin-off series (with the second instalment titled ‘Prometheus: Paradise’, already in the development), the likelihood of another Alien sequel seemed to be pretty slim.

As recently as 2014, Sigourney Weaver hinted that she was still interested in returning to the role of Ellen Ripley, adding that the ending to ‘Alien: Resurrection’ “feels incomplete to me. I wish it didn’t, but it does. We left it hanging. And there’s a way to finish this story that I think would be satisfying to me and the many fans.” – but there wasn’t any film director worthy of the highly-coveted franchise who would be willing to pick up the baton. Or was there?

Um... So I think it’s officially my next film. #alien - Neill Blomkamp posting on Instagram

The hopes of Alien fans were reinvigorated, and then dashed, once more, when the Concept Art of an Alien sequel posted by director Neill Blomkamp on his Instagram profile on 2nd January 2015 raised speculations to the possibility of a new Alien film being made under his direction. However, Blomkamp wrote under the images: “Was working on this. Don’t think I am anymore. Love it though.” and “Woulda rocked. Was a mental stroll into the world Ridley Scott created.”.

So that is that right? Fortunately, there was yet another twist to the story, for on 18th February 2015, Blomkamp posted: “Um... So I think it’s officially my next film. #alien”, alongside the original artwork of the Alien Xenomorph by H. R. Giger.

So these are the facts: There will be a new Alien film that will be distinct from the Prometheus franchise, starring (very likely) Sigourney Weaver (she confirmed that she would be happy to reprise her role as Ellen Ripley in a new Alien film under Blomkamp’s direction), directed by Neill Blomkamp, with Ridley Scott returning as a producer via his production company Scott Free Productions. It has been also confirmed that the storyline will take place some years after the planned Prometheus sequel (naturally, as Prometheus is a prequel to Alien). The name of the movie has yet to be announced, however, one of the artworks posted by Blomkamp bore a title: “Alien Xeno”.

Inside the Weyland-Yutani Corporation headquarters, where research is underway on the derelict Engineers’ Spacecraft.

The following is pure speculation (though speculation based on the known facts and the Concept Art released by Blomkamp):

The likely storyline of Alien 5 will be as follows:

Weyland-Yutani operatives return to Planetoid LV-426, retrieve the derelict alien spacecraft and transport it to Weyland-Yutani Corporation headquarters, located on Earth or another planet, for the extraction of Alien Eggs and further examination of the craft. Needles to say, it doesn’t take too long and things go awry. The Aliens, bred by the corporation for military use, break free from their confinement and run rampant throughout the facility. When everything seems to be lost, plucky Ellen Ripley (possibly accompanied by Dwayne Hicks) steps in, exterminates the Xenomorphs, and saves the day.

But Corporal Dwayne Hicks has died at the beginning of Alien 3 !!! (I can hear you shouting). But has he really ??? (I answer to that).

It is a well known fact that such a trifling thing as the death of the main protagonist never stopped film studios from bringing them back (’resurrection’ of Ellen Ripley by means of cloning in ‘Alien: Resurrection’ being a good example of this).

The released Concept Art features aged Warrant Officer Ripley alongside now older, heavily scarred Corporal Hicks as portrayed in Aliens by Michael Biehn, so the possibility remains that Blomkamp found a way of bringing him back, possibly also as a clone.

Three of the nine images released by Blomkamp feature present-day Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley (particularly intriguing is the picture showing Ripley/Weaver wearing an alien-technology suit including a helmet, inscribed “Pilot M[odel]? / Space Jockey” – even though it looks much more like a ‘Xenomorph disguise kit’, haha), so her return in Blomkamp’s Alien is highly likely, especially in the light of the revelation that Blomkamp worked on the project with Weaver during downtimes from his latest sci-fi movie Chappie (which features the former Alien star).

It’s only a matter of time before the Alien Queen breaks free from her confinement and starts wreaking havoc on the facility.

The Concept Art also seems to suggest that the Alien Eggs will return to the original H. R. Giger’s ‘slit’ opening design (as opposed to the ‘cross’ opening design used in Ridley Scott’s Alien and all subsequent Alien sequels and spin-offs). H. R. Giger’s design was not used in the original Alien film as it was deemed too risque, resembling (and indeed modelled on) female genitalia.

Ripley’s return is far more straightforward than Hicks’s, as she is still alive (sort of) in the Alien universe, and was last seen as a human-xenomorph hybrid ‘Ripley Clone 8’ in the film ‘Alien: Resurrection’, after the original Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley died by throwing herself into a gigantic furnace at the end of Alien 3, having sacrificed herself in order to kill the Alien Queen gestating inside her.

  • The first, most obvious option is to bring Ripley back either as the former ‘Ripley Clone 8’ (who didn’t die at the end of Alien: Resurrection) or yet another clone of the original Ellen Ripley, and pick up the story where it left off at the end of the last film.
  • The second option is that Blomkamp will completely disregard some previous films, or their parts. For instance ‘pretending’ that Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection did not happen (some fans of the Alien franchise wish that they didn’t) would not only allow for Ripley’s return, but also open up a possibility of Michael Biehn reprising his role as Corporal Dwayne Hicks (the Concept Art posted by Blomkamp may suggest that this is the case). This scenario is however rather messy (as it would completely break up the chronology of the series) and therefore unlikely.
  • The third option is a complete, clear-cut reboot of the Alien franchise. However, this option is also quite improbable, as such a move wouldn’t likely go down well with the fans of the franchise, let alone with Ridley Scott, or allow for Sigourney Weaver’s return, save for a possible cameo appearance.
Sigourney Weaver as Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley happens upon one of the unfortunate victims of the Aliens’ reproduction cycle.

There is also another option though – the released Concept Art is a red herring and all the pictures belong to an old version of the script which has been since abandoned by the director or rejected by the studio. (This would explain why Blomkamp released material that could potentially reveal the plot of the movie and thus spoil the viewing experience – the posted pictures may bear no relevance to the planned film).

Whichever scenario he goes for, Neill Blomkamp is no stranger to science fiction. In fact, his entire directing career so far has revolved only around sci-fi genre. His breakout film, 2009’s ‘District 9’ was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Visual Effects. This was followed by 2013’s dystopian science fiction thriller ‘Elysium’ and 2015’s science fiction film ‘Chappie’.

The legacy of the Alien franchise appears to be in safe hands.

Alien: Xeno (if that will be the title) will be distributed by the 20th Century Fox, with a tentative release date 4 March 2016.

Below is some of the awesome concept art for Alien 5 by Geoffroy Thoorens:

click on thumbnail for full size image