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Alien: Covenant sequel: Everything we know so far

In space, no one can hear you scream, and no one screams more than a crowd watching an Alien movie. Director Ridley Scott's 1979 original holds a spot among the American Film Institute's ten best sci-fi films of all time, and the franchise it spawned has grossed over $1.5 billion. Though the sequels passed through the hands of acclaimed filmmakers like James Cameron, David Fincher, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Scott returned to the director's chair in 2012 for the prequel Prometheus. Though some fans were baffled or frustrated, the film did receive mostly positive reviews, and it was clear that the public had a thirst for more Alien movies.

After the Prometheus follow-up Alien: Covenant was released in 2017, rumors regarding another sequel began circulating online. Official news was scarce, however, and fans were long left in the dark regarding any progress about the potential continuation of the Alien saga. Despite whispers of cancellation, there is still a glimmer of hope for Ridley Scott's next outing in the universe he helped create four decades ago. Here is everything we know so far about the next installment in the Alien franchise.

The Alien prequels so far

In 2012, Prometheus was released to decent reviews and was a modest financial success, accumulating $403 million worldwide. In the film, a team of scientists and archaeologists venture off to a distant moon found in ancient star maps. The expedition, financed by the mysterious Weyland Corporation, aims to find out more about the "Engineers" who came from the stars to create humanity. However, the moon where they land is inhospitable and populated with strange horrors. Soon, the crew faces new challenges that change the nature of their mission from discovery to mere survival. 

Five years later, Ridley Scott would return to direct Alien: Covenant, the sequel to Prometheus, further delving into the events leading up to the original Alien. In Covenant, a ship of interstellar colonists is damaged mid-flight, and its crew decides to land on a nearby planet where they speculate the environment may be more hospitable for a new colony than their original destination. Of course, this haven is not what it appears, and the colonists find themselves in the realm of the ever-evolving Xenomorphs.

While Prometheus did well both critically and financially, Alien: Covenant did not. The mixed reviews plainly illustrate that Covenant didn't pack as much of a punch as the previous entry in the franchise. Likewise, the box office numbers didn't wow 20th Century Fox, netting only $240 million worldwide. In short, while the film was not without its supporters and didn't exactly qualify as a financial disaster, it wasn't the kind of success that leaves studios salivating for another sequel.

Covenant sequel rumors swirl in a factual vacuum

Following Alien: Covenant's release, further developments regarding the future of the franchise were scarce, most likely because Covenant didn't perform nearly as well as Fox had hoped. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Covenant's ticket sales dropped 71 percent during the film's second weekend, and Fox reportedly stated that two further Alien sequels which had been on deck would have to be "reassessed." 

Rumors began to circulate online about the cancellation of the Covenant sequel shortly after the movie hit theaters. A December 2017 report from the fansite AVP Galaxy cited HumanMedia, a user on the Blu-Ray.com forums who claims to have worked on Alien: Covenant. "The sequel to Covenant was originally due to start preproduction this month in Sydney," the user claimed. "After the box office results filming was canceled, and a warehouse storage unit full of stuff was auctioned off a few months ago. So the original plan of pumping out another quickly has definitely changed with no immediate plans for anything."

Though the validity of HumanMedia's statement has yet to be confirmed, there are a few indications that their account has some truth to it, and that the film canceled or put on hold. 

Ridley Scott's post-Alien: Covenant plans

Before the release of Alien: Covenant, Ridley Scott spoke with Fandango, and was quoted as saying, "If [Alien: Covenant] is successful, and then the next one, and there will definitely be three more." This would mean a projected total of six prequel films before the events of the original Alien, but only if Covenant was a success. 

Fandango wasn't the only place Scott showed his excitement for the future of the Alien series. In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, he enthused, "If you really want a franchise, I can keep cranking it for another six. I'm not going to close it down again, no way." To drive the point home, he talked about the mindset he maintains when planning out the rest of the franchise: "You've got to assume to a certain extent success and from that you'd better be ready."

Of course, regardless of Scott's readiness, it was soon apparent that Covenant was not going to be as successful as its predecessor Prometheus, putting the future of the series into question. Further complicating the matter: the Disney/Fox merger that was finalized in early 2019. Reliable information regarding the status of a Covenant sequel has been sparse, until recent reports confirmed Ridley Scott is still currently working on the project.

The Alien: Covenant sequel already has a title

Though there is very little concrete information about Ridley Scott's upcoming Alien film (including whether or not we'll ever actually get to see it), we do have some insight into the project. The Covenant sequel currently goes by the title Alien: Awakening, and is set to begin where Covenant left off after David put the survivors of the Origae-6 into cryosleep. After that, everything is pretty much speculative. 

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Scott and screenwriter John Logan developed the Awakening script while Covenant was in production. Further confirming this is an article from Empire that shared some details about the plot. Reportedly, the film would feature the Engineers hunting down David and his Xenomorph embryos as they all head to LV-426, the planet where the crew of the Notromo land and find the Xenomorph eggs at the beginning of the original Alien

According Scott's chat with Fandango, Awakening would bring the series full circle. "There will be another one before we kind of literally and logically, clockwise, back into the rear back head of [the original] Alien," the director explained. Intriguingly, he then added, "It will go Prometheus, Awakening, Covenant." Whether that timeline represents a contradiction of Empire's plot summary — suggesting that Awakening will take place between Prometheus and Covenant — or was a simple slip of the tongue is hard to say.

What the Alien: Covenant Blu-ray release can tell us about Alien: Awakening

Other than being the sequel to Alien: Covenant, more specific details about the plot and characters to be featured in Alien: Awakening have yet to be made public. However, a six-minute short film titled "Advent" may hold some clues as to what we can look forward to in Awakening. "Advent," which was featured as extra content on the Alien: Covenant Blu-ray, serves as an epilogue to the events of Covenant. In the short film, David sends a transmission to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation and explains his reasoning for creating the Xenomorphs. Basically, David wants to create a queen that will be able to breed new Xenomorphs, thus allowing the species to continue without his intervention. 

Alien: Awakening will still take place before the first Alien film and, like the other prequels in the franchise, will likely further explain the lore surrounding the Xenomorphs and scientific excursions that preceded those in Alien. Considering the information Advent provides about David's motive, it isn't unlikely that Awakening will continue to showcase David's dark experiments. 

At the end of the short, David ominously touches the tube that is housing Daniels while he talks about his hopes of creating the Queen. The implication is that Daniels is likely going to serve as some pawn in David's scheme, but exactly what role she will play remains to be seen. 

Michael Fassbender is ready for Alien: Awakening

Because Alien: Awakening is going to be a direct follow-up to Covenant, Michael Fassbender is inevitably going to have to reprise his role as David. Somehow, it appears that his character will be at least somewhat successful in bringing the Xenomorphs to LV-426 and getting rid of the Engineers, based on what we know from the beginning of Alien. Fortunately for Ridley Scott (and for fans), Fassbender has stated that he would be more than happy to continue with his role as David in future installments.

While promoting the X-Men movie Dark Phoenix in May of 2019, Fassbender was asked if he would be open to reprising his android character once more. "I'd love to," he replied. "I absolutely love working with Ridley [Scott], and it was a real sort of moment for me when I stepped on set in Prometheus and got to work with him. I love the character. It's a lot of fun. So yeah, I would definitely enjoy it."

Katherine Waterston is also on board for Awakening

Michael Fassbender isn't the only actor who has expressed interest in returning to the Alien series. Katherine Waterston, the lead actress in Alien: Covenant, is also eager to reprise her role as Daniels for Alien: Awakening. In an interview with the Playlist, Waterston said, "I would be absolutely game to do more if they wanted to have me."

Considering that Daniels is the last character to interact with David in Covenant and the short film "Advent" hints that she has a more significant role to play in his plan, it is almost certain that Waterston would be called back to reprise her role in Awakening if the film progresses past the writing stage. 

However, despite Waterston's willingness to return to the Alien franchise, she has expressed that she is relatively in the dark regarding the film's status. According to Waterston, "I'm always usually the last person to know even what's going on in my own career. So, [I'm] probably not the best person to ask. But I did get some sense of where they thought they might like to take it when we were shooting Covenant, and it sounded really interesting."