5 A Bunch of Ways to Prep - Alien: Covenant
By George Rose
May 17, 2017
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.
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.