The only thing cooler than Ridley Scott doing another Alien movie is Ridley Scott doing TWO Alien movies. They never even asked him to do a sequel, so James Cameron did Aliens and so on and so on. Now that 20th Century Fox need to reboot one of their best franchises, they're happy to have Scott back for a prequel, and a second prequel, both to be shot in 3-D.
At the Los Angeles Times' Hero Complex film festival, Scott gave a Q&A in between screenings of Alien and Blade Runner. He told the audience more details about his plans for a new Alien. He'd already said his first prequel will be about the "space jockey," that huge statue Kane (John Hurt) stumbles upon in the first film. It looks like the carcass of an alien giant.
"I think beneath that carcass isn't a carcass," Scott teased on June 13 in Hollywood. "That's a suit, but inside the suit is a being."
Whoa! So once we meet that being, we're not going to want to stop at just one movie. "What we want to do is try and squeeze in two prequels, because if you explain who he was and where did he come from, then that will deal with the savagery of this version, which is pretty savage," Scott continued. "Then you may want to find out where they came from, so you may want to go to the place where his people come from."
Scott is sort of pulling a James Cameron on this one. He's spending time with real NASA scientists who do research at the bottom of the ocean, to simulate conditions in space. They've given Scott some ideas of real planets where he can set his prequel. That would show that the colonies Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) visited evolved from our own universe.
"They got me going about this wonderful planet which is out near the big gas, you know those massive gas columns that we discovered about 20 years ago," Scott said. "Just to the side of that, there's this wonderful planet called Europa. Around that is Io and Zeta II Reticuli. We're going back to Zeta II Reticuli."
Alien was about a team of blue-collar workers on a salvage ship in the future. It was just their job, and they happened to encounter an extraordinary beast. Now Scott wants to bring the Alien world even closer to our reality. He's taking our real space programs and only going a little bit further.
"This is going to go further into that world of terraforming," Scott said. "We're thinking about doing it. In fact, if Kennedy had been allowed to continue on his space program, we would have probably been on Mars now, with maybe a population of about 9,000 people. Take that on board, that's how far we should have gone and should have come. The argument was always 'Why spend so much money out there when we've got enough problems down here?' That's what's turned it around and stopped it. So we're going to a world which is already out there."
The part that's still science fiction is traveling light-years away and sustaining human life for the journey. Scott's going to take the real science of that and make it scary. "Actually, you're dematerializing and rematerializing, because light speed is that. You can't travel in that space of time, so you have to think about 'How do I mathematically change my matter, material presence?' It sounds like magic, but if we said in 1900 that I was going to have a cell phone, I'd be able to pick this up and talk to London, they'd put me in jail or a lunatic asylum. That's how far we've come. I think the closer it is to the truth and the closer it is to technological feasibility, it becomes that much more interesting. If it's a film like I'm going to do, it's going to become that much more frightening."
The Alien prequel will be Scott's first sci-fi movie since 1982's landmark Blade Runner. Now he's on a roll. He's planning two prequels and also developing a movie version of Joe Haldeman's book The Forever War. Scott says he has a screenwriter working on a fourth draft of the adaptation. His vision for that film is philosophical and romantic.
"[Haldeman] thought instead of writing the book about Vietnam, he'd write a book about a future idea of this perpetual war that seemed to be perpetual if you were a soldier serving in Vietnam. Why on earth were we there? What were we doing? What's the ultimate target? How do we get out? In a word, that reflects the whole tenor of the book. So it's philosophical and, in a funny kind of way, romantic. Romantic in the sense of I think 2001 was romantic and Star Wars is romantic, the first Star Wars, George Lucas', by far the best of the Star Wars, the one he directed, I think. That's the kind of romantic view. Romantic, I don't mean love story. I mean there's a vision there which elevates the idea."
The first Alien prequel is due out in 2011.