The whirlpool of rumors and speculation about director Ridley Scott‘s upcoming return to the ALIEN franchise mythology has spun out a rather unexpected result: according to the info released by 20th Century Fox today, Scott’s expansion of the ALIEN universe will now yield an original story and not the supposed prequel origin story previously suspected and even developed.
The new project’s title is now PROMETHEUS, scheduled for theatrical release by Fox on March 9, 2012. This news jettisons the rumored 3D-filmed ALIEN prequel films (either two films or a new trilogy, depending on who you read) as loosely discussed by art director Roger Christian in an interview last March. No indications confirm or dispel a 3D production for this project as of today’s revelations.
Key to this new, unrevealed story direction was a new script (a rewrite of an existing development script from Jon Spaihts) by Damon Lindelof (LOST, COWBOYS AND ALIENS) which set a bold new course for franchise exploration, apparently departing from the prequel-concept backstory and igniting the imagination of Ridley Scott at the same time. Director Scott says:
“While ALIEN was indeed the jumping off point for this project, out of the creative process evolved a new, grand mythology and universe in which this original story takes place. The keen fan will recognize strands of ALIEN’s DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, large and provocative. I couldn’t be more pleased to have found the singular tale I’d been searching for, and finally return to this genre that’s so close to my heart.”
If “keen” fans will only “recognize strands of ALIEN’S DNA” in this new story, such language indicates a severe departure from the existing ALIEN franchise plots, characters and history. Given the mixed-at-best reception by critics and audiences for ALIEN3 and ALIEN: RESURRECTION, such a departure may well be a good omen if the franchise is to be reborn and thrive once again. Rather than reset the odometer with a needless remake of the 1979 classic or shoehorn a prequel origin tale into the timeline, starting from nearly-scratch might give this project its best chance to succeed on its own merits rather than labor under the burden of its brilliant and misbegotten predecessors. Indeed Lindelof insists on sharing the credit and excitement for this new vector of storytelling with Scott as well who finally, happily seems juiced about proceeding with this long-developed effort:
“In a world flooded with prequels, sequels and reboots, I was incredibly struck by just how original Ridley’s vision was for this movie. It’s daring, visceral and hopefully, the last thing anyone expects. When I sat in a movie theater as a kid, feet raised off the floor for fear that something might grab my ankles, I never dreamed in my wildest imagination I would one day get to collaborate with the man responsible for it. Working alongside him has been nothing short of a dream come true.”
Casting efforts are taking shape just as quickly with Swedish actress Noomi Rapace (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, SHERLOCK HOLMES 2) on target for the lead role of Elizabeth Shaw. Deadline reports that both Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie are on a a short A-list for the remaining female lead role of Vickers.
Scott’s comments indicate an apparent radical shift away from the existing ALIEN mythology and universe which the director helped forge in cinema history, veering away from the undescribed origins of the Giger-designed xenomorph alien which first appeared on Acheron/LV-426 in Scott’s 1979 original film shocker. Often considered by franchise fans as fertile ground for prequel/sequel material, the hidden egg chamber under the derelict shipwreck may well never be explained now if PROMETHEUS charts such a different course.
Does this newly announced title give us any possible clues to the story Lindelof and Scott have concocted and now will commit to film for a 2012 release? Likely not in any obvious terms, but here is some exploration of the mythological character and story of Prometheus:
Dating back to tales of Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan, brother to Atlas (burdened with upholding the sky/heavens) who would disobey the orders of Zeus by stealing fire from the Olympian god and giving it to mortal humans. As punishment for his betrayal, Zeus had Prometheus bound to a rock while a giant eagle ate his liver every day. Each night, Prometheus would heal (thanks for his immortal nature) only to endure the same torture again the following day.
Generally speaking, the mythology of Prometheus blends a brutal mixture of generosity (to mortals) and treachery to the ancient gods, against whom he joined a rebellion by the Titans only to betray them and his own brother Atlas to secure victory for the Olympians — then betraying Zeus yet again. According to the tragic drama by Aeschylus, Prometheus not only gifted mortal men with the power of fire but he saved all humankind from destruction by Zeus as well. Giver of power and enlightenment or unscrupulous traitor, the general myth of Prometheus offers plenty of contrasting extremes and a challenging dichotomy of motives and impulses.
Will Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS explore any of these mythological themes and motifs in his expansion of the ALIEN saga, or are such hints just singular threads woven through a larger unseen tapestry? Only time will reveal the pattern, so stay tuned to FilmEdge for more movie news on this project as it breaks.