Pitch Meeting: The Alien Franchise

Fox has been trying to turn 1979’s hit sci-fi/horror flick Alien into an ongoing franchise for a while now, without much luck. The only major success to come from this franchising has been the first sequel, Aliens, which was basically a remake of the first one except bigger and with a lot more guns.

The two sequels that followed, ALIEN³ and Alien Resurrection, were both flops. Pairing up the Xenomorphs with another horror movie alien made Alien vs. Predator a moderate success, but the followup, Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem, proved to be the lowest grossing film in the series to date.

Bringing Ridley Scott back to direct the prequel movie Prometheus, which was more concerned with worldbuilding and philosophical questions than the series’s standard action and horror elements, seemed like it was the punch in the arm the franchise needed, delivering the most successful installment since the mid-80’s. But then the sequel to that prequel, Alien: Covenant, flopped hard, so I imagine some execs at Fox are looking to go back to the drawing board.

That’s where we come in. Odds are no one here is ever going to be in a position to control the trajectory of the Alien franchise. But, if you were, what would you do to patch up this sinking ship?

If it were up to me, I’d say they need to move away from doing complex lore and worldbuilding and go with a back-to-basics approach. However, it’s also important that any new movie do something different from past films to make it stand out. My pitch?

Go back to the end of the original Alien, when Ripley set the Nostromo to self-destruct. What if, for unclear sciency reasons, overloading the ship’s reactor like that didn’t destroy the Nostromo, but sent it back in time, where it crash lands on modern day Earth? And what if the Xenomorph laid an egg or two on the ship before it followed Ripley into the escape pod, and people in our world start getting facehuggered?

Yeah, it’s basically what the Star Trek and X-Men movies did when they wanted a soft reboot, but I think it could work well here since, if you can’t get Sigourney Weaver back as Ripley, the draw of the series is the monsters and the situations rather than the characters. And I think bringing the Nostromo to Earth opens up some opportunities.

For one, you get scenes of modern day humans exploring the Nostromo the same way the astronauts from the original explored that crashed alien ship. It would work as a way to feed off nostalgia, but also as a way to do the exploring-freaky-alien-ship scene from a different perspective, showing how bizarre the Nostromo would look to modern explorers, especially with all the dismembered human, alien, and android bodies all over the place, and especially especially if they get Ash’s severed head talking again.

Another thing this lets you do is radically change the setting of the series. Previous Alien films have all been set in very remote locations, whether an isolated deep-space ship or a barely-colonized alien planet. Even the vs. Predator movies, which were set on present day Earth, were set either in the depths of Antarctica or an isolated Colorado town. I know sending a horror movie villain to the big city hasn’t always worked well in the past (see Jason Takes Manhattan), but seeing Xenomorphs get loose in a major metropolitan area . . . if you’re going to make fagehugging, chestbursting, and monsterstalking feel fresh again, that doesn’t seem like a bad way to do it.

The tagline could even be something like, “On Earth, they will hear you scream.”

But that’s just my idea. What would you all pitch if given a say in how the Alien franchise moves forward? (And if the pitch is “don’t have it move forward, just let it end”, I totally get that.)