Last Updated on February 28, 2024
It’s official! Director Fede Alvarez‘s new addition to the xenomorph canon is titled Alien: Romulus. The title was revealed via an updated release schedule put out by Disney following the company’s Q1 Earnings report. Originally designed to debut on Hulu, Disney has pivoted to an August 16, 2024 theatrical release date for the movie, which bodes well for its quality. But, with no trailer released (yet – that may change on Super Bowl Sunday), what else do we know about Fede Alvarez’s new Alien movie?
YOUNG CHARACTERS IN PERIL
Alvarez put young characters through the wringer in his films Evil Dead (2013) and Don’t Breathe, and it looks like he’s going to be doing exactly the same thing in Alien: Romulus. Every announced cast member in this film seems to be in their 20s (going by birthdates available online), and The Hollywood Reporter says that “as opposed to the other movies which focused on adults in corporate, militaristic and scientific roles, this now-ninth installment of the franchise will focus on a group of young people. On a distant colony, the group finds themselves in a fight for their lives with the titular alien, a creature known as a Xenomorph, whose race propagates by implanting eggs into people’s stomachs via face-huggers, with the juveniles eventually violently bursting out of the host’s chest.” Will this be the Alien equivalent of a slumber party slasher?
The film is set to star Cailee Spaeny, who’s currently riding high off the success of Priscilla, and will next be seen in Alex Garland’s Civil War, David Jonsson (Industry), Archie Renaux (Shadow and Bone), Spike Fearn (The Batman), Aileen Wu (Away from Home), and Isabela Merced (Rosaline).
THE OTHER IDEAS
There were several directions the Alien franchise could have gone after the release of 2017’s Alien: Covenant. Although that film didn’t go over well with fans or critics, it did okay at the box office ($240 million worldwide) and Alien director Ridley Scott wanted to make a direct sequel. A chance to wrap up the Alien prequel trilogy he had begun with Prometheus and continued with Alien: Covenant. So that could have happened. Alternatively, the studio could have chosen to revive the Alien 5 project Neill Blomkamp had been developing, which would have brought Sigourney Weaver back as franchise heroine Ripley and given Michael Biehn’s Hicks character from Aliens a different fate than the one we had seen in Alien 3. Blomkamp’s ideas had a lot of fan support (and support from Weaver and Biehn), but it was put on ice because Scott wanted the focus to be on his prequel trilogy. Which ran into a dead end anyway. Another filmmaker who wanted to make an Alien sequel that would have brought Weaver back as Ripley was Walter Hill, who has been a producer on every Alien movie (and got writing credits on Aliens and Alien 3). Hill wrote a 50-page Alien 5 treatment with fellow franchise producer David Giler, who has since passed away, but somehow it didn’t gain any traction. So by getting his Alien movie into production, Alvarez has beaten competition from the likes of Ridley Scott, Neill Blomkamp, and Walter Hill.
THE PITCH STUCK WITH RIDLEY SCOTT
We may not know exactly what Alvarez’s story is, but we do know the pitch made an impact on Ridley Scott, who is producing the movie that could be called Alien: Romulus. Apparently Alvarez told Scott his idea for how to approach a new Alien movie years ago and it was stuck with him. In 2021, Scott called Alvarez and asked him if he was still willing to make that Alien movie. Obviously he was. 20th Century Studios president Steve Asbell had said that they decided to move forward with the project “purely off the strength of Fede’s pitch”, as it’s “just a really good story with a bunch of characters you haven’t seen before.”
NO CONNECTION TO OTHER ALIEN FILMS
Sources say that the script Alvarez has written with his frequent collaborator Rodo Sayagues doesn’t have any connection to the previous Alien movies – except, of course, for the presence of the Xenomorph. So we shouldn’t expect to see any tie-ins with the Scott prequels, the adventures of Ripley, or the Predator crossovers. However, doesn’t the story about a distant colony being stricken with a Xenomorph problem sound a lot like what happened on LV-426 before Ripley and the Colonial Marines showed up in Aliens? This is only speculation, but Alvarez could be cooking up a surprise “mid-quel” that takes place within the timeframe of Aliens. The story of the downfall of LV-426. But, maybe it really is a completely different colony. Maybe the sources aren’t trying to throw us off the trail and the movie really doesn’t have any connection to previous installments.
SET BETWEEN ALIEN AND ALIENS
Despite the alleged lack of connection to other films in the franchise, we know that the story is set between the events of the original Alien and Aliens. Cailee Spaeny told Variety the film is supposed to “slot in between” those two movies, but of course she couldn’t go into detail about how or why it fits in there. This doesn’t kill the speculation that this could be about the downfall of LV-426, but it also stirs up speculation that the movie could be a variation of what we saw in the video game Alien: Isolation, which was about Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda investigating her disappearance and ending up crossing paths with a Xenomorph on a space station. It’s not likely that this would be a direct adaptation of Alien: Isolation, but it could be drawing some degree of inspiration from the game.
Unlike last year’s new Predator movie Prey, the new Alien movie is going to be released theatrically, with the Mouse House giving the film an August 16, 2024 date. This is similar to what the studio did with Barbarian, which grossed $45 million on a $4.5 million budget, and their recent The Boogeyman, which has already raked in $25 million and counting. Many think Prey would have been a blockbuster had it gotten a theatrical release, as people still prefer to see their scary movies in a dark theater. As anyone who’s ever watched an Alien film theatrically can tell you, that’s always the best way.
Despite the young cast, Alien: Romulus seems bound for an R-rating. Recently, while promoting Madame Web, star Isabela Merced teased a scene so disgusting everyone watching had to turn away. So what could the moment be? Without giving it away, the rumor is that it has to do with the classic xenomorph chest-burster coming out of…somewhere else on the body. That’s as far as we’re going folks.
RIDLEY SCOTT’S REVIEW
According to Alvarez, Scott has already seen the completed version of Alien: Romulus, and praised it, calling it “f**king great.”
While Alien: Romulus may be destined for theaters, we’ll still be getting some xenomorph content on Hulu, with Noah Hawley’s (Fargo) Alien TV series in production. That show is set on Earth, with FX CEO John Landgraf teasing that the series takes place about seventy years from now, and will not feature any characters from the movies. However, the infamous Weylan-Yutani corporation will still be involved. Currently, the show has no release date and likely will only premiere after the new Alien movie comes out.
Are you looking forward to watching a new Alien movie that leans into pure horror territory as Fede Alvarez sets the Xenomorph lose on a group of young colony residents? Share your thoughts on this project by leaving a comment below.