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What’s going on with Alien 5?

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More than decade under the thumb of Fox

Alien concept Neill Blomkamp

Even before the release of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus in 2012, there have been ongoing conversations about a potential fifth Alien movie. In 2015, Chappie director Neill Blomkamp announced that he was interested in taking on the project, and just a short while later, 20th Century Fox confirmed it had given him the green light to get started. Since then and now, however, there have been different rumors about the film’s status.

When asked by a fan on Saturday what the chances are that Blomkamp’s Alien 5 would ever actually be released, the director admitted it wasn’t looking good.

So how did it go from Blomkamp eagerly posting concept photos of the film on his Instagram account to Fox moving forward with the project and ending with a grim look toward the actual release of the movie?

A brief history

The trouble with the film dates back to the early aughts. James Cameron, who had directed Aliens in 1986, was working on a script with another writer for a potential fifth Alien movie. At the time, Sigourney Weaver (who played Ripley in the Alien movies) said she was interested in reprising the role as long as the story was done right. She had turned down Joss Whedon’s idea to do a new Alien movie set on Earth, for example, and said she wanted to return to the planet from the first film.

Despite Weaver being on board, after Cameron heard about Fox’s intentions to do Alien vs Predator in 2004, the director walked away from the franchise. In a 2006 interview with Ain’t It Cool News, Cameron said he was originally offered the film, but turned it away for two reasons: it wasn’t Alien 5 and it sounded too much like a gimmick.

“I started working on a story, I was working with another writer and Fox came back to me and said, ‘We've got this really good script for Alien vs Predator and I got pretty upset,” Cameron said. “I said, ‘You do that you're going to kill the validity of the franchise in my mind.’ Because to me, that was Frankenstein Meets Werewolf. It was Universal just taking their assets and starting to play them off against each other.”

It wasn’t until 2008 that Alien 5 would even be brought up again. In an interview with MTV News, Weaver said that she and Scott had been discussing ways to bring Ripley back for a fifth installment in the franchise. Instead of focusing on the aliens, which AVP did, it would follow Ripley’s backstory.

“Both of us feel a kind of commitment to that woman,” Weaver said. “He’s as much responsible for who she is as I am. What we’re interested in is taking the character of Ripley and seeing what other science fiction story we can tell about someone who has lived several lives.”

The movie that Weaver was possibly hinting at back then never actually panned out. Instead, as most know, Scott decided to go in a different direction and worked on the 2012 film Prometheus, which served as the prequel to the original 1979 Alien. Still, Weaver never gave up and reiterated in a 2014 interview with The Guardian, Weaver said she felt Ripley’s story never got the finale it deserved and she was sure that if a fifth Alien movie was ever made, her character’s humanity would prevail.

On Jan. 1, 2015, Blompkamp dropped a series of concept photos on his Instagram account. The director captioned the first photo, “Was working on this. Don’t think I am anymore,” and it wasn’t until Feb. 18 that Blomkamp followed up the post with another, seemingly confirming that the fifth Alien movie was moving forward. The photos have since been deleted.

Weaver told Coming Soon during a press junket in February for Chappie, the first film the two worked on together, that if Blomkamp was directing, she’d be interested in exploring the project. More details slowly started to become unearthed, including that Alien 5 would ignore the third and fourth films, essentially acting as a direct sequel to Cameron’s Aliens.

Fast forward to June 29, 2015, and Blomkamp has announced he’s ready to start filming Alien 5 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Everything seemed to be on track for Blomkamp’s film, with the exception of one, tiny inconvenience for the director: Ridley Scott’s follow up to Prometheus. Originally announced in March 2014, Scott’s sequel, which was being referred to as Prometheus 2 at the time, took priority over Alien 5.

On Oct. 29, 2015 Blomkamp confirmed that Alien 5 was on hold until everything with Prometheus 2, which is now known as Alien: Covenant, was sorted out.

It wasn’t until April 2016 that Alien 5 was brought up again. Weaver told Aggressive Comix she believed the film was still being made, but it had to wait until Alien: Covenant was released. Scott was on board to produce, and according to Weaver, wanted to remain hands-on if possible.

“It’s an amazing script, and Neill and I are really excited about doing it,” Weaver said. “We’re doing other things until we can get going on that. I’d be really surprised if we didn’t do it, because it’s such a great script, and we love working together. So, it’s just going to take a little bit longer to get out to you, but it’ll be worth the wait.”

Unfortunately, it now looks like that wait is going to be longer than fans thought — if it’s released at all. Blomkamp, for one, doesn’t sound too hopeful at this time. Polygon has reached out to Fox for comment on the film’s status.

Alien: Covenant will be released May 19.