Via AICN comes some amazing news for fans of the Alien franchise. Amazing both because it teases a long awaited sequel, and because whatever plans there were have almost certainly been shelved, despite yielding some of the most exciting designs for a new Alien film since the period before Prometheus came out when it still looked amazing, and not at all like a bigger disappointment than if it had been three hours of a baby Ripley throwing faeces at the camera.
Since Prometheus took the franchise in a totally un-asked for direction that involved a ludicrously weighty premise and credibility-defying narrative choices, people have mostly stopped speculating about the future of the series that attempted a soft reboot with the oft-lamented Alien: Resurrection - a film scripted* by Joss Whedon, no less, and which, faults aside, goes a long way to recapturing the tone of the originals.
Resurrection was a big risk in itself, employing the talents of French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, then a hot property. This directorial gamble was in keeping with the franchise's model of using a stylistically different director for each film, but it may be that the City Of Lost Children director was a bridge too far for most fans. I actually liked it for what it was, and even now can enjoy it in a comic book, alt-universe kind of way. However, it all but killed studio interest in further stories about Sigourney Weaver's Ripley - who by now was a clone with Alien D.NA. Instead what we got was a series of Alien Vs. Predator films, which were broadly panned.
Still, Weaver has always championed the series, and her iconic character - a groundbreaking protagonist in the late seventies, and a pioneer among believable action heroes. According to the article, Weaver is still very up for another Alien film, and wouldn't you know it, has been working with Neill Blomkamp on his forthcoming robot drama Chappie.
It's from Blomkamp's Twitter account that these images have surfaced, and the mere fact they have seems to make it a virtual certainty that whatever project they were intended for has been canned. And that's a shame. Blomkamp's own films so clearly echo the tactile, used-future aesthetic of the best Alien films (particularly Aliens), and it's clear they're a big influence on his work. I'm not sure I've ever heard fanboys put his name forward for the franchise, but it's clear that he's the best, and maybe the only choice. You can't judge a film on its production art (imagine how good the Star Wars prequels could have been), but the fact that a certain Corporal Hicks is included is the stuff of Alien fan wet dreams, and teases a very intriguing film that might actually successfully retcon a series where so many have failed. Still, it's not unthinkable that these images mean that a studio is still looking into the prospect of an Alien 5, so maybe there's hope after all.
According to a follow-up post at AICN, this project may not be dead in the water after all. The word is that Blomkamp commissioned this art independently of Fox studios, and they were "blindsided by it", according to Neill. In a separately referenced conversation, he asserts that "[Fox are]
not the problem, actually[...] I’m the problem. Fox, they would make it. Like, tomorrow. They would make it".
Keep the faith.
**EDIT 2 19/2/15**Niell Blomkamp's Alien is go!