Alien: Romulus Will Fix a Major $241 Million Prequel Mistake

Alien: Romulus Will Fix a Major $241 Million Prequel Mistake
Image credit: Twentieth Century Fox

It's back to basics for director Fede Álvarez.


  • The new prequel will take place between the first two movies.
  • It will use less CGI.
  • This could be the last chance to save the franchise.

Any prequel to the Alien series would face a challenge. If we forget for a moment that Alien 3 ever happened, the first two films in the series were absolute classics. They are as influential today as they were when they were first released in 1979 and 1986, respectively.

The main problem with 2017's Alien: Covenant (and to a lesser extent the first prequel, Prometheus, released in 2012) was a departure from what made those two movies so good.

Too much tech, not enough tension

Alien and Aliens are big movies that benefited from an almost B-movie feel. Of course, filmmaking was very different when Ridley Scott 's directing career was in its infancy, but you get the sense that he wasn't just working within constraints – he really understood his craft.

Alien: Covenant embraced CGI to such an extent that it often felt like it was so far removed from the originals that it was a different franchise. You certainly wouldn't have guessed that Ridley Scott was behind it if his involvement hadn't been publicized.

The first two films in the series were packed with suspense. CGI and other modern special effects were still a pipe dream, but both films arguably produced shots that can't be replicated even with modern technology.

Extreme close-ups, shadowy lighting, and limited viewpoints all served to create a sense of confined space. Like the protagonists, we didn't always know where the danger lurked. This was the tension that gripped the audience and made their hearts fighting to get out of their chests.

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Scott's later work included classics like:

  • Gladiator
  • Thelma and Louise
  • The Martian

These are further proof that he 'gets' what it takes to make a great movie. Which makes his directorial choices on Covenant even more puzzling.

FX over effects

idley Scott's return to the Alien franchise in 2012 was highly anticipated. It had been three decades since Blade Runner, and sci-fi fans had high hopes. No one expected him to completely ignore modern filmmaking techniques. But fans were right to expect the prequels to be on brand.

To be fair, there were some stunning visuals in both movies. But that was never going to be enough to make up for the fact that they just didn't feel like they belonged in the franchise.

It was almost as if the opportunity to show off the xeno in all its glory became more important than delivering the kind of heart-pounding movie we all hoped for.

Fortunately, the upcoming Alien: Romulus, directed by Fede Álvarez, will be shot in a more traditional manner, using real sets and effects.

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Will the next prequel be as good as the first two movies?

Who knows? Both are outstanding:

  • Alien scores 93% on Rotten Tomatoes
  • Aliens scores a near-perfect 98%

It's easy to say they'll never be topped (or even matched), but the past doesn't have a monopoly on great cinema.

The bar is high, but the signs are positive that the franchise is getting back to basics. In doing so, Alvarez may be forcing himself to focus on plot twists and suspense, rather than getting sidelined by the Aladdin's cave of special effects.

Perhaps more importantly for the production companies, the chances of the new movie being a box office success are pretty high when you compare the quality of the recent prequels to what they grossed:

  • Prometheus grossed $403.4 million against a budget of $130 million
  • Alien: Covenant grossed $240.9 million against a budget of $111 million

What's the new movie about?

The original plan was to make a trilogy of sequels featuring Michael Fassbender's David. But after the first two films, it was decided that a different direction was needed.

Alien: Romulus is set between Alien and Aliens and follows a group of young colonists who go scavenging in an abandoned space station, only to discover they're not alone.

Based on the description and Fede Álvarez's promise to use real sets and effects, there's reason to hope that we'll get something worthy of the franchise.