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Why Did Fox Put Alien 5 On ‘Hold’?
Last week Alien 5’s representatives came out of a boardroom after a meeting with Fox and told Neill Blomkamp, Alien 5’s director, who was late to the meeting because he was busy re-building LV-426 in his backyard, “Hey, maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!”
Maybe it didn’t go quite like that, but Alien 5 has been put on hold indefinitely, which is basically Hollywood lingo for cancelled.
It’s certainly odd. Alien 5’s pre-production seemed to be running smoothly. The script was written – with added reassurance that Blomkamp had held talks with original Alien director, Ridley Scott over how Alien 5 and Scott’s upcoming Prometheus 2 aka Alien: Covenant (the sequel to the Alien prequel) won’t overlap or cause any plot similarities with Alien 5. Then soon after it was confirmed Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn were reprising their roles of Ellen Ripley and Corporal Dwayne Hicks. Then a bombshell. A couple of weeks ago Neill Blomkamp tweeted to say Alien 5 is now ‘holding/pending.’ It hit us like a tail of a Xenomorph. And it all adds up to us wanting to know why did Fox end up putting this highly anticipated blockbuster on hold?
There are a few clear reasons:
Alien 5 and Prometheus 2 were just in the end too similar for the studio to take a big risk.
Alien 5 was reportedly going to follow Ripley and Hicks on a mission to expose the villainous corporate entity, Weylund Yutani who are using the Engineer’s ship from Alien for research and to make profits out of the Engineer’s hardware. But when you read the plot details for Prometheus 2, it sounds very similar.
According to Chris Marc, who claims to have been given info by someone close to Prometheus 2’s script development, he revealed that, Weylund Yutani will be messing with the Engineer ships in this film too. His comments, which you can read here, basically state Weylund Yutani are looking to make profits on the Alien life forms Shaw and the android David found in Prometheus. And as you guessed, this is a very similar plot scenario to Alien 5. Perhaps too similar.
Perhaps Scott and Blomkamp in their talk couldn’t come to an agreement on Alien 5’s plot, or maybe Fox thought it was too risky to just reboot an Alien franchise that pretty much everyone thought was finished anyway with 1997’s Alien: Resurrection.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still lots of fans of the Alien franchise, enough to spawn two video games, one good: Alien: Isolation, one bad, Aliens: Colonial Marines. However, Prometheus is more recent and has a newer, younger fanbase that earned it 400 million dollars worldwide at the box office in 2012.
Also, if you consider Hollywood financial statistics from last year where it saw a 5.2% drop in sales, and a 5.7% decrease in attendances. And you couple that with the similar plots of Alien 5 and Prometheus 2, it leaves Fox wondering if it’s too risky for both films to be made.
If that is the case, maybe Fox chose the Prometheus franchise because it offers more scope in terms of potential stories and themes. Even though Prometheus received a lot of criticism it did try to tackle large themes like where humans come from and what other life forms are out there, whereas the Alien franchise is relegated to solely exploring the battle between humans and Xenos.
It sounds unfair when you consider that apart from Scott’s recent sci-fi success, The Martian, he’s delivered a number of turkeys (Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Counsellor), but unfortunately, Neill Blomkamp hasn’t had the number of good ones Scott’s made, which leads us onto the biggest reason why Alien 5 is on ‘hold.’
Neill Blomkamp’s previous movies.
There’s no doubting Neill Blomkamp is talented as a director. He has an aesthetic in his films that make them distinct: his gritty, almost near future technology, grubby Alien weaponry, and futuristic robots are all cool aesthetics that makes his movies unique, however his love of aesthetics seems far larger than his love of telling a great story.
He said in an interview with Dazed last year that, “I still need all of the dumber, younger, popcorn stuff of shit exploding for fun and guns and stuff.” It’s the reason at first why Fox got so excited over his Alien 5 artwork he posted on Instagram last year and approached him to make the film. As we know it looked cool, but if the script didn’t hold up and there were inconsistencies with the other films which he couldn’t fix, then perhaps Fox lost faith in his ability.
Another reason for Blomkamp being his own banana skin is that his films have become repetitive. All 3 of his films to date have had the poor vs. rich uprising underpinning. It’s always where a guy who doesn’t fit in has to fight against some corporate power. This has resulted in his last two films not being greatly received by both critics and the public.
Maybe Hollywood saw Blomkamp as one risk too many. Not worth the anxiety when Scott’s Prometheus franchise is going to cover similar territory and draw in a larger audience where then they could replace Alien 5 with another blockbuster they see as carrying bigger box office sales.
Alien 5’s cancellation may have been a blessing in disguise. It could have meant loads of re-writes for Blomkamp and any other writer Fox needed to bring on board (Prometheus 2 has already had one re-write), but don’t count on Alien 5 being completely nuked from orbit just yet. If Prometheus 2 bombs, Blomkamp will certainly be the first one to email: It was a bad call, Fox. A bad call…