Disney’s Plans For Alien Franchise: Expect BIG Things…
Disney owns the Alien IP but what are The House of Mouse’s plans for the Alien franchise? Here’s everything you need to know…
Next to Star Wars and Indiana Jones, the Alien franchise, kicked off by Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece, Alien, is one of the longest-running and most loved cinematic franchises in cinema history. Yes, the newer films in the series kind of sucked but, as PREY has shown us, there is a real possibility of redemption if the right writers and directors are in charge.
Disney is now the sole owner of the Alien franchise. We already know that it is currently planning an Alien TV series, helmed by the always-awesome Noah Hawley – the guy that gave us Fargo. But there is apparently plenty of other Alien projects in the works at Disney, according to sources. And the reason for this is simple: Disney wants to make Alien its next mega-franchise.
Could Alien Be Disney’s Next Mega-Franchise?
With the MCU degrading into a complete mess, and Star Wars has lost nearly all of its magic and ties to its origins, the argument could be made that Disney doesn’t really know what it is doing when it comes to building-out cinematic universes – or, it does, but eventually entropy sets in and ruins all the good stuff it created.
Either way, there is certainly scope for a wider Alien universe. I mean, the world of Blade Runner is allegedly set in the same universe, so there’s definitely room for a crossover there. And there is a new Blade Runner TV show in development too. But before we get to any of that, Disney will first need to establish a solid base on which to build its wider franchise.
Things will start in earnest with Noah Hawley’s Alien TV series which is coming to HULU and Disney+ sometime between 2023 and 2024. Hawley has apparently submitted the scripts to Disney, so pre-production and casting can begin on the first season of the Alien TV series. For what it’s worth, Hawley is an incredible storyteller, so I have no worries about him helming an Alien TV series.
But where things get murkier, and because you cannot say Alien without Ridley Scott popping up somewhere, is that there is also talk of an additional Alien TV series, this one set in space, while Hawley’s will be on Earth, that’ll be helmed and produced by Ridley Scott. Scott also has plans to do another Alien movie too, and no one knows whether his TV show and the apparent film will be connected – or how they’ll relate to Hawley’s.
Because of the sprawling nature of the Alien universe to date, it is possible that Hawley’s and Scott’s films and/or TV shows will take place at different times – one in the far-flung future, the other in the not-too-distant future. Each show could explore different facets of the reality in which the alien appears in, say, from the perspective of the colonial marines and/or the Weyland corporation.
Disney Needs A New Ellen Ripley…
If Disney is planning on turning the Alien franchise into a mega-franchise it will need to create an overarching storyline, something that connects all of the films and TV shows, kind of like what Marvel did in Phase One and Phase Two, before things began to descend into mediocrity. The Alien universe is linked with both Predator and Blade Runner, so the potential for this “universe” is quite literally huge.
Rather than basing the franchise around the monster, Disney could, instead, focus it on the Weyland Yutani corporation which has been a constant throughout all of the films. Doing this would allow Disney to effectively create a Mad Men-style universe, replete with Aliens, Predators, and replicants. And, in my view, it’d be a good place to ground the franchise.
How this will work, of course, remains to be seen. One thing is almost certain, though: the Alien franchise needs a new Ripley. Up to now, there has not been a single protagonist in an Alien film fit to replace Sigourney Weaver’s iconic character. But in order for the Alien franchise to work, to have some pull, and keep its audience interested, it will need a new, bankable lead. And Disney’s recent track record in this context isn’t exactly good…
Could Ripley return? Given Sigourney Weaver’s age, the idea of bringing her back isn’t really plausible. This means Disney will have to attempt to create a brand new lead for its Alien universe, someone they can build the entire franchise around. Or, it could go the MCU route and build it around a handful of characters and villains. Given the alleged scope of its plans for Alien, I’d be inclined to think Disney will go for the latter approach.
There could be an Ellen Ripley origin story, of course, but that was kind of what the OG Alien film was all about. I don’t think anyone would be interested in the adventures of a young warrant officer without any aliens – it just wouldn’t work. This means, for the most part, the character of Ripley is not likely to feature in any of Disney’s plans for the Alien universe. And that’s probably a good thing after what Alien: Resurrection did to her.
New Alien Films & TV Shows – The Next Five Years
What can we expect from Aliens between now and 2027? I’d imagine there’ll be at least two TV shows running, possibly on their second or third season, a new film or two, and perhaps some kind of crossover with the Blade Runner universe. As I noted earlier, the alien universe is ripe for exploration with its myriad tentacles and connections to other sci-fi IPs.
But this, of course, will ALL be contingent on Noah Hawley’s TV series being a success. Personally, I think it will be, so long as Hawley gets the tone right – although I do have a suspicion it might be a little preachy. Hawley has mentioned numerous times that the show will focus heavily on class distinctions and all the trappings that come with that kind of stuff.
It’s going great. It’s going slowly, unfortunately, given the scale of it. I’ve made a certain business out of reinvention. Alien is a fascinating story because it’s not just a monster movie; it’s about how we’re trapped between the primordial past and the artificial intelligence of our future, where both trying to kill us. It’s set on Earth of the future. At this moment, I describe that as Edison versus Westinghouse versus Tesla. Someone’s going to monopolize electricity. We just don’t know which one it is.
In the movies, we have this Weyland-Yutani Corporation, which is clearly also developing artificial intelligence—but what if there are other companies trying to look at immortality in a different way, with cyborg enhancements or transhuman downloads? Which of those technologies is going to win? It’s ultimately a classic science fiction question: does humanity deserve to survive? As Sigourney Weaver said in that second movie, “I don’t know which species is worse. At least they don’t fu*k each other over for a percentage.” Even if the show was 60% of the best horror action on the planet, there’s still 40% where we have to ask, “What are we talking about it, beneath it all?” Thematically, it has to be interesting. It’s humbling to get to play with the iconography of this world.Source
I have no problem with that kind of thing, some of the greatest films in history use this theme as their base, but it needs to be handled and done correctly – not the usual cookie-cutter messaging, rich people bad, poor people good, we get in most big budget films these days. If it’s nuanced, well-paced, and thoughtful in its exposition, it has the potential to really bind the universe together. Plus, every mega franchise needs an almost invincible villain. In Hawley’s, we’ll apparently have two: the alien itself and the Weyland Yutani corporation.
Whatever happens, I am very excited by the prospect of this burgeoning Alien universe. I cannot wait to see Noah Hawley’s alien TV show and, despite the failings of Ridley’s last two “alien” films, I’ll definitely be watching whatever he comes up with two. For me, though, if I were in charge of the universe, I’d have Hawley and Prey’s Dan Trachtenberg front and center when it comes to planning the scope and vision of the franchise.