On Monday Prometheus 2 became more “real” to me than ever in the sense that it looks like this movie is actually happening. Not only did 20th Century Fox hire Jack Paglen to write a script for the sequel in the wake of its initial release, they just now tapped Michael Green (who just wrote the new Blade Runner for Ridley Scott and Warner Bros) to rewrite it. To me, this is significant and marks this as a priority for the studio because it’s happening after all the dust has settled. While the first film certainly didn’t lose money with a $400M worldwide take, it probably didn’t make as much as Fox was hoping for considering its budget was around $130M with a global P&A campaign that I’m sure easily exceeded $50M. Keep in mind, the studio doesn’t see anything close to the gross returns of any given film coming back in the net – so the margin of profit here, while healthy, might not be stratospheric.
But they’re doubling down now (perhaps in the light of decent ancillary revenue). Like I said, the dust has settled and they’re pressing on. Shooting is apparently scheduled to begin this fall. I’m not giving anyone a hard time here, I enjoyed Prometheus (even though the issues with its script play louder to me than they did before) and I’m excited to see what they come up with next. But what I liked about the film was the fact that Ridley Scott seemed truly engaged by the material. There was a real reason why they veered away from John Spaihts’ Alien: Engineers draft and brought on Damon Lindelof to nudge the property further into unknown territory – Scott wasn’t interested in repeating himself. While the shift from Spaihts to Lindelof was ultimately problematic (on paper I prefer the Alien: Engineers draft to Lindelof’s script), it might have been what was needed to engage Scott. And if you look at Prometheus as a film, it’s pretty clear that its new ideas and scenarios are handled with a lot more verve than the Alien elements, which tended to come across as rote and obligatory.
So with the news that Green is being brought onboard partially to make the script more “alien-y” (in the words of the source that spoke to The Wrap), I have to wonder if this project is being shifted out of Scott’s interest range. Granted, this is Sir Ridley Scott here so part of me has to assume he knows what the f*ck he’s doing (or wants to fulfill a contract clause from the first film), but it seems like backsliding. When doing press back in 2012 he was absolutely resolute that the reason it took him so long to get around to making Prometheus was that he felt that the well on Alien ideas had run dry.
So the real question is, has Scott found a new angle in the Alien-verse that truly excites him? Or is he doing a bit of fan (and studio) service? I wouldn’t begrudge him on any of this, but I was actually excited for a movie where Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw and the head of Michael Fassbender’s David rocket around the universe completely unfettered by arbitrary associations to an exploitable brand. It seemed like the franchise might pull away from its anchor and really take off in the direction Scott wanted to go. If a great director is truly inspired by the material he’s working with, I’ll take that over brand recognition any day of the week. We already have seven movies with Xenomorphs in them, how many more do we need?
Again, I could be totally wrong on all of this. Maybe Scott really has found a new idea that simultaneously excites him and allows 20th Century Fox to return to a more solid franchise footing. And if that’s the case, I really am all for it (and either way I’m excited for the multiple Michael Fassbenders we’re told to expect from the film). It’s just that there’s a finite amount of Ridley Scott films left in our future, and I want all of them to count.