In 2014 Ridley Scott told Yahoo Movies that the classic xenomorph would not appear in his ‘Prometheus’ sequel. “The beast is done. Cooked,” the 79-year-old director told us while promoting biblical epic ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’, “I got lucky meeting [HR] Giger all those years ago. It’s very hard to repeat that… But after four [films], I think it wears out a little bit. There’s only so much snarling you can do.”
Fast-forward to 2017 and the beast is back. The classic xenomorph is front and centre in ‘Alien: Covenant’ (in cinemas Friday) – a direct sequel set 10 years after the events of 2012’s divisive ‘Prometheus’ – so what changed?
“What changed was the reaction to ‘Prometheus’, which was a pretty good ground zero reaction,” the forthright filmmaker responds without hesitation.
“It went straight up there, and we discovered from it that [the fans] were really frustrated. They wanted to see more of the original [monster] and I thought he was definitely cooked, with an orange in his mouth. So I thought: ‘Wow, OK, I’m wrong’.”
Despite a mixed response from fans and critics (beautifully staged, but bogged down in pretentious musings was the general consensus), ‘Prometheus’ scared up $400m (£311m) at the global box office. With big plans for the franchise in the future, it was clear to the director that he needed to keep fans of the series on side.
“The fans, in a funny kind of way – they’re not the final word – but they are the reflection of your doubts about something,” Scott explains, “and then you realise ‘I was wrong’ or ‘I was right’. I think that’s where it comes in. I think you’re not sensible if you don’t actually take [the fans’ reaction] into account.”
As for the future of the franchise, Scott thinks there’s a lot left in the tank creatively with screenwriter John Logan (‘Skyfall’, ‘Alien: Covenant’) already delivering a script for a direct sequel that Scott aims to shoot after ‘All The Money In The World’ and ‘The Cartel’.
“I’ll probably be filming it within a year,” Scott says about the follow up to ‘Covenant’. “It’ll be out within a year and nine months. It’s weird when you’re writing, doing, planning, thinking about franchises, it’s amazing how it opens up and starts to evolve.”
On whether that film, rumoured to be called ‘Alien: Awakening’, will complete the prequel series and lead us directly up to the events of the 1979 ‘Alien’, Scott remains coy. “I don’t know. [I’ll make] maybe two more [films], or maybe one more, I don’t know.”
While there remains a whole universe of possibilities for the series, two future avenues for the ‘Alien’ franchise are seemingly closed forever.
“It never happened,” Scott states emphatically. “I saw it and I waited for something like a script to happen because it was done with Fox and I was going to be the producer, and it never really evolved. I don’t know what happened, really. It was probably Fox’s decision finally, not mine.”
And for fans of the maligned ‘Alien v Predator’ franchise (if there are any) Scott said there was no chance of another franchise convergence. He wasn’t even aware Shane Black’s ‘The Predator’ was currently in production at 20th Century Fox, despite it being the home of ‘Alien: Covenant’.
“I don’t know what it is. Is it ‘Predator’? The original ‘Predator’ was with Arnold Schwarzenegger? I don’t think it matters.”
‘Alien: Covenant’ is in cinemas from Friday, 12 May.
Watch ‘The Crossing’, a short film that bridges the gap between ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Alien: Covenant’…