Aliens is one of the few sequels that many fans believe is better than the original film. It’s understandable why that opinion is so widespread: Aliens is a great film. A lot of fans were unhappy with where the story went in Alien 3 and feel like it was a betrayal of James Cameron’s take on the universe. Well, District 9 director Neill Blomkamp agreed. He had pitched a sequel that would have acted as a new sequel to Aliens. It would have been called Alien: Xeno and it would have been… well, interesting.
What We Know About Alien: Xeno
There hasn’t been a bunch of story details revealed about this potential script, but Blomkamp got the internet buzzing when he dropped a whole batch of concept art for the idea. From what we’ve seen, it’s clear that Hicks and Newt would be back in some way. There seemed to be a facility – most likely run by Weyland-Yutani – that was housing a lot of the alien artifacts and lifeforms. Would these have somehow been recovered from LV-426? Or were they discovered on another planet?
The most striking piece of art was Ripley wearing some kind of outfit that resembled the alien body (above). It looks like Blomkamp wanted to spin the idea that the space jockey suit was integral to the eventual design of the alien. Seeing as how Prometheus and Alien: Covenant have taken their own route with this concept, it’s likely that this would have been either abandoned or seriously re-imagined.
Regardless, things would go south at some point and a Queen would get loose. The other art available doesn’t tell a full story but it certainly gives an idea of the style Blomkamp was going for. It definitely looks much more in tune with what Cameron brought to the franchise rather than the Gothic horror elements that Ridley Scott and H.R. Giger contributed to the original film.
Ridley Scott Says, “No.”
Eventually, Ridley Scott went on record saying that Blomkamp’s version was dead and would never happen. Granted, Scott also said there wasn’t a script written. Sigourney Weaver and James Cameron both commented on Blomkamp’s script. Though, it’s possible Blomkamp had only written a treatment and not a full screenplay. Anyways, Ridley Scott returned to the series he kicked off and has been taking his own path with the alien. It’s clear that Blomkamp’s version would have been more in line with the changes Cameron made to the mythology.
That’s one of the reasons why Alien: Xeno probably got shelved. Scott is doing his own thing with the franchise and having a competing concept that would contradict his vision would be confusing to casual viewers and unnecessarily combative to die-hard fans. Creating a conceptual rift in the series would do more harm than good.
There’s something else to consider: what if Alien: Xeno was bad? Blomkamp doesn’t have the greatest track record – District 9 is his only great movie – and potentially tarnishing Aliens could backfire in a destructive way. Not only could it hurt the franchise in a bigger picture way, but not scoring a home run could be devastating to Blomkamp’s career. The risk outweighed the reward.
The Land of Unmade Movies
However, Alien: Xeno can never be terrible if it’s never made. Instead, unmade films often become lionized by fans and live on in their own right. Alien: Xeno can be the perfect movie in your head, but transmitting it to the screen means there are so many things along the way that could ruin it. Now, it can be this perfect fantasy that people talk about for ages to come.
Alien: Covenant promises that there are more Alien stories to come. Alien: Xeno is almost certainly not one of them. That might be disappointing to some fans, but it’s probably the best thing for the franchise as a whole. And who knows? Maybe one day it will happen, but if it doesn’t, it’s a movie you can play in your brain theater any time you’d like. And as soon as they make a documentary about this unmade film, I’ll be the first one to watch it.