In an interview with Variety, 20th Century Fox CEO Stacey Snider tackled some interesting questions posed to her about the state of the movie business, specifically plummeting ticket sales and how the over abundance of sequels being made is contributing to that. Of course Fox’s own key franchises were mentioned, with the interviewer singling out Alien: Covenant‘s lacklustre performance for appraisal:
“Alien: Covenant” stumbled at the box office. Is that franchise over?
It was a disappointment, but I trust Ridley [Scott] and Emma [Watts] to know the right story when they find it. When universes are as rich as “Alien,” they can stay in a too familiar groove — in which case you’re in trouble — but they can also find a planet or a storyline or a villain that also lives in that universe that can be groundbreaking.
A quick take on Alien: Covenant‘s box-office figures can prove to be quite jarring when you sit it next to its positive 70% Rotten Tomatoes score and healthy 65/100 Metacritic total. But in an apparent disconnect between critics and general movie-goers – Covenant sits on a tepid 57% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and has a steadily declining IMDB rating – painting the picture something obviously didn’t quite resonate with general audiences. As someone that followed the film extremely closely and monitored social-media reaction upon its release, it appeared to me Covenant‘s problems were spread far and wide.
A lot of people were unaware about the film’s relationship to Prometheus, so had a surprise when half-way through it was clearly a Prometheus sequel in disguise; likewise, people were unsure about its relationship to the Sigourney Weaver Alien films, and whether this had anything to do with the once-breathing Neil Blomkamp Aliens sequel; but all of that is irrelevant when bums are in seats and you’re prepared for a kickass Alien film whatever its superficial makeup may be – so it can come as no surprise that Alien: Covenant didn’t do Wonder Woman figures when word of mouth spread after the opening weekend a philosophising android was the star of the show; not the iconic xenomorph as the posters and marketing had suggested. It was a polarising experience to say the least.
I enjoyed the majority of Covenant and liked that the crux of the story leaned on Michael Fassbender‘s duel take as androids Walter and David, but I was definitely disappointed by the Alien elements of the film. The classic Alien felt nudged in and I can’t help but feel, maybe, just maybe, it would have gotten the room to breath and terrorise in Neil Blomkamp’s shelved film. From Stacey Snider’s comments we can assume Ridley Scott has free-reign to steer his bruised and battered Alien prequels into uncharted territory – but is that such a good thing? Scott made an unequivocal 360-degree turn away from the Alien-less path Prometheus was treading with Covenant, and I fear we may be destined for a little bit of history repeating itself with a move away from where Covenant was heading.
I’m all for exciting new elements in my Alien films, but not at the expense of continuity and leaving things on a cliffhanger. If you’re going to wipe the slate clean again 20th Century Fox, why not hand the baton over to someone new? It was Neil Blomkamp’s concept art for his Aliens sequel that had everyone’s pulses racing, not murmurings of Prometheus 2.
Where do you stand on the future of the Alien films? Let us know in the comments!