This week we have the release of Alien: Covenant, which is a sequel. I mean, it’s the eighth in a series of movies. I mean, it’s the first sequel to the first prequel, not to be confused with the first mash-up movie with Predator. I mean… ugh, Hollywood, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?! This week, it’s going to take more than five recommendations to prep you for Alien: Covenant; it’s going to take five different decades. So sit back, relax, and get ready for a studio story that takes 40 years to tell.
5 A Bunch of Ways to Prep - Alien: Covenant
By George Rose
May 17, 2017
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… I mean, in Hollywood…
1976 – George Lucas begs 20th Century Fox to help him make his sci-fi movie Adventures of Luke Starkiller (seriously). The executives say, “Well his last film made some great money, maybe we can fork over $10 million so he can make his nerdy little space opera. What’s the worst that happens? Oh, Lucas wants to own the rights to all sequels and merchandising? That’s fine, nobody watches space movies, let alone the sequels, and nobody buys merchandise except for kids that watch Disney movies. Give him what he wants and get him out of my office.”
1977 – Star Wars becomes a monumental box office sensation for 20th Century Fox, earning well over half a billion dollars worldwide. Studios start to panic as space movies are suddenly cool. It’s time to stop messing around and start making money off of aliens. Also, no more giving away the rights to sequels and merchandising because that decision backfired big time. At least Star Wars will be a trilogy. That’s partial profits from three mega earners over the next decade. The studio can use that time to master space movie making, so when Star Wars is over they have their own stuff to rely on.
1978 – The ONLY script sitting around at 20th Century Fox that features a space ship traveling around the universe is Alien, written by some nobody named Dan O’Bannon. The executives go, “Hey, here’s some stupid fking kid right out of college that we can totally steal a franchise from. It didn’t work on Lucas but this guy will definitely fall for it! How could this go wrong?! What’s karma?!” They hire some nobody director named Ridley Scott that mostly worked in television.
1979 – Alien is released and makes $100 million worldwide at the time off of an $11 million budget. This is a huge amount of money but not Star Wars money. It does go on to get a few Oscar nominations and even a few wins. 20th Century Fox has another potential science-fiction franchise they can milk with no pesky director that owns the rights standing in their way.
1980 – The Empire Strikes back is released, again earning over $500 million worldwide off of only an $18 million budget. 20th Century Fox is happy with this result, even though they have to share the profits with George Lucas. It’s okay. They own Alien.
1981 – Wait, Ridley Scott is suing the studio for withholding his portion of the Alien profits? No wonder Lucas demanded he own the rights to Star Wars. Studios suck balls. Fox moves forward with a sequel to Alien but decide to cut out O’Bannon and Scott. They want hire another nobody director (James Cameron) who hasn’t worked much in film but shows promise. But Cameron can’t finish the script because he wants Arnold Schwarzenegger to star in The Terminator, which is about to start filming. Oh, wait, Arnold wants to film Conan the Barbarian first? Okay, Cameron writes Alien 2.
1982 – Ridley Scott releases the sci-fi classic Blade Runner, proving he wasn’t a one-hit-wonder and a sci-fi legend. Fox wishes that maybe they kept Scott around a bit longer. Conan the Barbarian is released. Fox wonders if Cameron is the right choice for directing Alien 2 because the sequel script is proving to be less of a horror sci-fi movie and more of an action sci-fi film.
1983 – Fox enjoys the profits of the final Star Wars movie, Return of the Jedi. Hundreds of millions of dollars later, George Lucas has finished the trilogy he owns and leaves 20th Century Fox with nothing.
1984 – The Terminator is released and makes James Cameron a household name. Fox decides they do want him to make Alien 2 and they are tired of sitting around waiting for the sequel to get made.
1985 – A super adorable baby boy is born. His name is George Rose. That’s me. I’m George.
1986 – Aliens (aka Alien 2) is released and earns as much as the first film domestically but more worldwide. It becomes a profitable film for Fox, gets a few Oscar nominations/wins, and becomes referred to as one of the greatest sequels of all time. Since Cameron clearly knows how to make an action movie, Fox steals his ideas and casts Schwarzenegger in their other movie about aliens, Predator.
1987 – Predator is released and makes almost $100 million worldwide. Fox might not own a Star Wars level success story but they have some pretty decent sized franchises between Alien and Predator.
1988 – Fox realizes that Aliens was drastically different than Alien, going from horror to action. Maybe Star Wars was so successful because there was only one mind (Lucas) behind the story which made it more cohesive. They consider bringing Ridley Scott back.
1989 – Some silly writer releases a comic book called Alien vs. Predator. Since Fox owns both franchises, they decide to start work on a film that pits their two biggest aliens against each other. Scott hates this idea and decides not to do Alien 3, so production gets stalled.
Instead, they move forward on Predator 2. Schwarzenegger doesn’t want to do it, though; he would rather make a movie called Total Recall, written by the same guy that wrote the classic sci-fi film Alien.
1990 – Total Recall is released by Sony and earns over $250 million worldwide. Schwarzenegger and writer Dan O’Bannon rejoice! Predator 2 is released and earns a dismal $57 million worldwide.
1991 – Fox doesn’t learn their lesson and pushes forward with Alien 3, rushing the production and throwing some nobody director (David Fincher) into the mix in the middle of it all. You know what else happens in 1991? Cameron and Schwarzenegger team up again for Terminator 2. It explodes at the box office, crowning Cameron as king of both action films and sequels. Fox starts crying because every time they let someone direct an Alien movie they go on to bigger and better things, while Fox is left without a ship captain like they had with George Lucas.
1992 – Alien 3 is released. It is not referred to as a classic in any sense of the word. Domestically, it earns much less than its predecessors. Internationally it makes a little more money than the first two, so the studio barely saves face.
1993 – Fox can’t continue with Predator because the second one didn’t do well. They want to continue with the still barely successful Alien franchise but they have no creative team that guarantees success. So, since Cameron is king of the world, they decide maybe action is the way to go instead of horror and they ask him to return to Alien 4. He, like Ridley Scott, doesn’t like the idea that Fox still wants to do an Alien vs. Predator film. Cameron passes on the Alien franchise.
1994 – Cameron and Schwarzenegger reunite again for a little film called True Lies. They are such a dynamic duo that they were given a $115 million budget and turned it into a $375+ million earner. Fox pushes forward with Alien 4 because even if it’s crap it will still make them a few dollars and everyone else they know is making money so why not them?
1995 – David Fincher releases Se7en. It cost $33 million to make and earns almost $330 million worldwide. Ridley Scott. James Cameron. David Fincher. Three amazing directors that worked on Alien movies, got rejected from follow-up films and went on to do great things. Fox craps the bed.
1996 – Alien: Resurrection is released. It is set 200 years after Alien 3 and features Sigourney Weaver as a clone of herself; without creative consistency, all you are left with is a franchise regular to bank on. It cost $75 million to make and earns $160 million worldwide. The cost vs. profits percentage is starting to make these films not worth making. The franchise dies. Oh, and James Cameron releases Titanic in the same month. It goes on to make around $2 billion worldwide and becomes the biggest movie ever.
1997 – Cameron and Titanic go on to make Oscar history and win the most awards ever. Fox continues crying. Why can’t they have a Star Wars or a Titanic? Boo hoo for Fox.
1998 – George Lucas begins production on a new set of Star Wars movies. Fox has no control over it. They will, however, take a quick $50 million paycheck to distribute the movies. All other profits will go to Lucas. Also, George Rose turns 13-years-old. He can now watch PG-13 movies (his parents are strict), he gets a TV for his bedroom for his birthday, and he becomes crazy obsessed with movies - especially horror, adventure and superhero movies.
1999 – Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace is released and makes Lucas a boatload of cash, eventually earning over $1 billion worldwide. Fox makes only $50 million. It’s okay. They tried to make things better with David Fincher after the Alien 3 fiasco. Fincher releases the cult classic Fight Club, proving yet again he is a director to watch and proving that Fox needs to stick with and stand by their talent.
2000 – Since Fox sucks balls and is desperate for franchises, they buy the rights to the Marvel’s X-Men, spending $75 million on the movie and making almost $300 million worldwide. This is much better than how the Alien franchise ended up so they stick with superheroes for a bit. Elsewhere, Ridley Scott takes a $100 million budget and turns Gladiator into a $450+ million hit. Scott beats Fox. Fox pouts in the corner.
2001 – Scott goes on to win a bunch of Oscars for Gladiator. Fox decides it should stop screwing around with the creative team behind their movies and lets Bryan Singer continue the X-Men franchise without cutting him out. Lesson learned.
2002 – Fox begins filming X-Men 2. George Rose turns 17-years-old and starts working at the movie theater. George’s obsession continues but, despite his father’s better efforts, he never watches the Alien movies. He heard most of them were crap and never got around to watching some old franchise his dad rambles on about.
2003 – George goes crazy as X2: X-Men United becomes one of the greatest superhero sequels ever. George doesn’t know any better and thanks Fox for making a great movie. Oh, how little he knew about Fox back then. Since George loves horror movies, he also geeks out over the release of Freddy vs. Jason, which cost $30 million to make and earned over $100 million worldwide. George loves movie stats and how easy the internet has made following them. Fox loves stealing movie ideas. They decide the time is finally right for an Alien vs. Predator movie because monster mash-ups are cool now.
2004 – Fox doubles down and spends $60 million on AVP, which goes on to make $170+ million worldwide. Even though it cost more than Freddy vs. Jason to produce, it earns a little more so the studio is happy. It’s not the worst time in the world to be 20th Century Fox. Or the worst time to be George! He goes to college to major in marketing and minor in writing. Good times for all!
2005 – Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith is released, completing the prequel trilogy. This is the last time Fox will have anything to do with Star Wars. They are sad their quick and easy payday is no more.
2006 – X-Men: The Last Stand ends the X-Men trilogy on a low note after Bryan Singer passes on directing it. Fox moves forward on AVP2.
2007 – AVP2 is released and earns much less than the first film. The “versus” franchise is dead. Fox goes back to sucking at life.
2008 – Fox decides to have faith in the outrageous ideas of their former abused directors and lets James Cameron do whatever he wants for his next movie. They’re just happy to make any money at all, even if they have no control over the product because whenever they do they screw things up.
2009 – James Cameron and 20th Century Fox release Avatar. It earns $2.8 BILLION worldwide. It claims countless box office record titles and Oscar nominations. It’s a great time for George to start writing for Box Office Prophets because he loves movies.
2010 – Avatar wins three Oscars. James Cameron loses Best Director and Best Picture to his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker). Fox wipes away their tears with billion dollar bills. George stops writing for BOP because he’s 25, earning decent money and wants to spend his time drinking and fornicating. Cameron and George are losers. Except Cameron is a billion dollar loser.
2011 – Fox successfully reboots the X-Men franchise with the prequel First Class. What else in their closet can they bring back from the dead? Fox decides to do an Alien prequel/reboot and have learned that consistent creative talent benefits a franchise. They get Ridley Scott to direct and produce. Prequel reboots are all the rage. Their plan is an origin story of the aliens with loose ties to the originals.
2012 – Prometheus is released. It earns over $400 million worldwide, becoming the highest domestic/international earner of the franchise. It cost $130 to produce plus marketing. The movie is considered… profitable? I mean, biggest Alien ever! At the time, George is 27. He still hasn’t seen any of the movies besides AVP. He considers this the perfect time to enter the franchise. He loves Prometheus. He also loves movie production news. Disney buys the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas, who retires on mountains of money. Fox still has Avatar with plans for sequels.
2013 – George watches Alien and Aliens, not Alien 3 or 4. They are amazing. Meanwhile, Fox wonders, “Should we make a Prometheus sequel?” They decide to wait. Scott is taking his time with plans for the series. He thinks he wants to direct something else, reminding audiences he is the king of sci-fi and not just the Alien franchise. Fox is smart now and lets him do this. They will wait for Scott and Prometheus 2. They will make whatever movie Scott wants.
2014 – David Fincher finally returns to Fox for the first time since Fight Club. They release Gone Girl. It cost $61 million and earns $369 million worldwide. It is Fincher’s biggest hit. Fox has learned many lessons and starts seeing the rewards. Naturally, this gets them eager for more. Should they do Prometheus 2 or a sequel to Alien 4? Maybe both! Scott is on hold at the moment so they hire sci-fi filmmaker Neill Blomkamp (2009’s Oscar nominated District 9) to write/direct Alien 5.
2015 – Disney releases Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It earns $2 billion. Disney claims the title of biggest opening weekend and domestic earner. Fox still has Avatar as biggest global hit. Ridley Scott releases The Martian with Fox. It cost $108 million and earns $630 million. It gets nominated for seven Oscars. All wounds are mended. Fox still misses Star Wars but is doing fine without it.
2016 – Fox goes crazy with their lessons learned and decides to let Cameron make FOUR sequels to Avatar. This will delay production and profits on Avatar 2. Cameron wants all or nothing, producing every sequel at the same time. Avatar 2-5 will be released from 2020-2025. It’s okay. Prometheus 2 is in production because Scott was super successful with The Martian. Sorry, Blomkamp, Alien 5 gets scrapped. What Scott wants, Scott gets.
2017 – Fox continues their X-Men legacy with Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Wolverine. It earns stellar reviews and over $600 million worldwide. Fox is also releasing Alien: Covenant with Scott directing. It’s currently 77% positive on Rotten Tomatoes, better than Prometheus. It’s expected to earn less but also costs 25% less. Early word is it’s the third best Alien movie after the first two. With 2017 off to a good start and Avatar 2-5 on the way, it’s a great time to be Fox - as long as they keep learning lessons and having faith in creativity.