Neill Blomkamp's Alien project gets green-light

Neill Blomkamp's Alien project gets green-light

District 9 and Elysium director to direct new Alien film, produced by original director Ridley Scott

It's one of the most beloved yet badly treated properties in Hollywood. Its first four films were helmed by some of the best directors in the world, and now District 9 and Elysium director Neill Blomkamp is to join the illustrious list after confirming his long-gestating Alien project is to go ahead.

At the start of the year, Blomkamp had set the internet abuzz when he released detailed concept art for a stalled film (referred to as the rather tautological 'Alien: Xeno') featuring the return of Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley and, rather confusingly, Michael Biehn as Dwayne Hicks. Blomkamp claimed that, with no official approval from 20th Century Fox, he had abandoned the project.

This morning, Blomkamp posted an Alien image to Instagram with the accompanying text, 'Um... So I think it's officially my next film. #alien'. The news has since been confirmed by Variety, with no further plot or casting details.

It's worth noting that Blomkamp had been working with Weaver on his forthcoming sci-fi thriller Chappie. Original Alien helmer Ridley Scott will produce, which may well be a prudent move. If Scott can nurture Blomkamp's vision and placate longstanding fans of the Alien series then he can more freely forge his own path with the ongoing (and divisive) Prometheus series.

The Alien legacy

Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)

Over 35 years on, Ridley Scott's seminal sci-fi horror is still one of cinema's most revered films. Scott worked with the reclusive Swiss surrealist painter HR Giger to construct 'the perfect organism': a ferocious monster with acid for blood, that gestates inside a human host. Scott later planned to make a fifth entry in the series, before instead returning to the Alien universe for the controversial Prometheus. Scott went on to make such classic films as Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise and Gladiator.

Aliens (James Cameron, 1986)

Hot off low-budget breakout hit The Terminator, Canadian director James Cameron cleverly marked his intentions for the Alien sequel by adding an 's'. Pitting a hardened (but unprepared) crew of Marines against an army of xenomorphs, Cameron's 'war movie in space' is a very different beast to the first film but no less popular and the result was box office gold. Cameron has had an extraordinary career since, including the top two box office hits of all time: Avatar and Titanic.

Alien 3 (David Fincher, 1992)

Much like Cameron before him, David Fincher started his career in visual effects (including work on Return of the Jedi) before landing his first feature as director of Alien 3. Beset by problems from preproduction to release, Alien 3 was a deeply unpleasant experience for the young director who, in an interview with the Guardian in 2009, said, 'No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me.' Since Alien 3, Fincher has forged an astonishing career featuring Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac and Gone Girl.

Alien: Resurrection (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 1997)

French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet was an adventurous choice for the fourth entry in the franchise. Together with compatriot Marc Caro, Jeunet made surreal fantasies Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children. Featuring an eclectic cast of European actors, Alien: Resurrection is full of Gallic flair and shot through with a dark streak of sadism. Things fall apart in the last act when a new alien creature (the Newborn) shows up, a curious design failure in a series renowned for its otherwise impeccable work. Writer Joss Whedon went on to create Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly for TV, before directing Avengers Assemble (the third highest grossing film of all time). Director Jeunet followed up with romantic fantasy Amélie.

Alien: Covenant

  • 3 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 2h 3min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Ridley Scott
  • Written by: Michael Green
  • Cast: Michael Fassbender, Demián Bichir, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Jussie Smollett, Amy Seimetz, Carmen Ejogo, Callie Hernandez
  • UK release: 12 May 2017

The spaceship Covenant ends up on an unknown planet littered with little egg things, which can’t be good. The latest in the franchise is basically an excuse for Scott’s fantastic visuals and a series of more or less ingenious variations on grisly death, although some will enjoy the spectacle of Fassbender kissing himself.