Director Neill Blomkamp’s latest film “Chappie” was released theatrically yesterday to disappointing results. The science fiction film is on target to win a weak box office weekend with a measley $13 million on a $49 million budget. What’s interesting is that Blomkamp has been doing just as much as (if not slightly more than) promotional work for his new “Alien” film while on the promotional tour for “Chappie.”
Alien franchise veteran Sigourney Weaver plays Tetravaal CEO Michelle Bradley in “Chappie.” Even though her role is small in the film, she was apparently around long enough to discuss Blomkamp’s obsession with the first two “Alien” films in particular. That’s where that beautiful concept art that’s been floating around the internet came from. The film would take place in between “Aliens” and “Alien 3.” It was originally speculated that Blomkamp’s film would ignore the events of “Alien 3” and “Alien: Resurrection,” but Blomkamp later clarified that everything would remain “connected.” Hicks (Michael Biehn) and Newt (Carrie Henn) are still alive, as well.
This was all just a rabid fan, who just so happened to be a filmmaker, showing what he had been working on to someone who was originally involved in the franchise he loved. It was basically just for fun, but it got Weaver excited about it. It eventually gained the attention of 20th Century Fox who greenlit the project and it is now Blomkamp’s next film. Michael Biehn has recently stated that he is not only interested in returning, but has already been contacted.
The articles that have surfaced since this announcement was made official doubt Blomkamp’s abilities as a director. “District 9” was incredibly strong, but even Blomkamp has admitted to messing up “Elysium.” “Chappie” is looking like it won’t win people over either. Blomkamp has made it public that he may not be best suited as director for his “Alien” film. His visual style is fantastically absorbing, but Blomkamp tends to lack he proper storytelling abilities for a well-established franchise such as “Alien.” Blomkamp’s statements on the film have lead many to believe that the story he has in mind may be able to be told over two films, if not an entirely new trilogy altogether.
The doubts around this film (or films) are well-founded, but it’s not like 20th Century Fox was really doing anything with the franchise before Blomkamp unleashed his impressive fanboy collection of original works. Look at what we’ve gotten since “Alien: Resurrection” in 1997 (which everyone hates anyway); two really terrible “Alien vs Predator” films in 2004 and 2007 that no one cares to acknowledge. “Prometheus” was believed to be the return of the Xenomorph, but Ridley Scott has confirmed that he’s no longer interested in telling that tale. Blomkamp has given new life to a dead franchise and deserves his shot at directing a new film. Ripley herself believes Blomkamp can “break new ground” and everyone is extremely excited about “Aliens” again. So what exactly is the problem here?
Ripley is set to return and Hicks and Newt are expected to come back, as well. The real question is does this mean we’ll see Bishop show up, too? Bishop was cut in half at the end of “Aliens” and only appeared briefly in “Alien 3.” Despite turning 75 this year, Lance Henriksen is still a hard working actor (he looks to have 17 films coming out this year alone). Since all of the surviving members of the Sulaco are set to appear in Blomkamp’s film and Henriksen seems fully capable of returning, it’d be a shame not to include everyone’s favorite android in the franchise.
It looks as though Neill Blomkamp’s “Alien” film (dubbed “Alien 5” by most, but has yet to receive an official title) won’t be released until after “Prometheus 2.” Neither film has a script yet, but “Prometheus 2” currently has a March 4, 2016 release scheduled. This has the potential to be so incredibly sensational and as a fan it’s really exciting, but all we can do in the meantime is hope, doubt, and speculate. And honestly, isn’t that half the fun?
Sources: aintitcool.com, empireonline.com, ign.com, slashfilm.com, variety.com, io9.com, screenrant.com, filmsketchr.blogspot.com