Alien Movie Universe

Rumor Control: The Alien franchises future is assured!
Scified2017-07-23 15:58:24
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Recently, trusted media news outlet The Hollywood Reporter "reportedly" stated that the future of the Alien franchise was being reassessed following the release of Alien: Covenant. While the article in question is actually looking at the increasing likelihood of expensive movies failing to meet their necessarily high box office quota's to be considered profitable, many other media news outlets have subsequently quoted THR's small comment relating to Ridley Scott's latest movie...

"Sources say Fox will have to reassess two intended sequels Scott has pitched while he is off helming Getty kidnapping movie All the Money in the World and then drug lord drama The Cartel."

This statement does not, as some have suggested mean that the Alien franchise is in jeopardy. Put simply someone THR cannot name (a source) has told them that in their opinion studio 20th Century Fox cannot continue producing movies like Alien Covenant, movies that, as per the subject of THR's article are not generating enough profit at the box office for the studio to generate enough profit to continue producing movies. To see what THR is trying to highlight look at the maths behind Alien: Covenants box office returns - Ridley Scott's sequel reportedly cost $97 million to produce, with many outlets suggesting that an equal amount was used for the movie's marketing budget. Currently, Covenant has earned $232.3 million worldwide at the box office; with almost $200 needed to cover the production and marketing budgets, the movie has only generated approximately $46.3 million profit (if the marketing budget estimates are to be believed). While physically a lot of money, what amounts to half of the production budget in profits is not a very good return and is just plain bad business.

Consider the original movie, 1979's Alien had a production budget of between $9-11 million and earned (according to Box Office Mojo) $104.9 at the box office. As with its recent prequel-sequel, 20th Century Fox likely spent equal to the production budget ($9-11 million) on the marketing budget giving the movie a return of at least $82.9 million. This is not only nearly double the profit Covenant earned it is also nearly eight times the cost of the production budget, a very healthy profit margin. Some may point out that since its release Alien has also earned an additional $100 million in home release and broadcast/network sales, but box office returns mean cinema ticket sales taken from the movies theatrical run, the term "box office" does include media sales post cinematic release. Before the digital age studios did not generate much profit after a movies theatrical run and as such heavily relied on box office returns. Being resilient and hesitant to change studios still look to the box office for the wealth of their income, but with today's entertainment hungry audience able to purchase movies digitally, directly from the studios if available, times are changing as evidenced by the growing number of VOD productions (such as those produced by Netflix) and MGM's forthcoming Stargate Command venture.

Ultimately, Alien fans can relax. Percentages and returns aside, Alien: Covenants $232.2 million earned at the box office is the second highest earnings of the franchise, behind Prometheus' $403.4 million of course. None of the previous four movies managed to earn as much as Covenant at the box office, so rest assured more Alien movies are an inevitability. For Ridley Scott however, he will likely be told by 20th Century Fox to produce his next installment in his planned series of prequels for a much smaller budget, probably $25-50 million, to assure healthier profits. The divisive opinions of fans and critics that have resulted in a less than ideal aggregate review score while being a factor in the movies failure to surpass $250-300 million at the box office, is both a factor Fox and Scott will have to consider moving forward, and the topic of a whole other article entirely.

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Written by GavinPublished on 2017-07-23 15:58:24

Capt Torgo

MemberFacehuggerJul-23-2017 4:11 PM

232 -43 from China at 25% take home =191- half =95million plus roughly 12 million from China after their 75%cut= 107 million studio take in so far. If it needs $150 with marketing then it's $43 million short of break even. This is just my guess at the studio getting half the box office except China where it only gets 25%. Covvy has fallen super short of Prometheus for many reasons. I just hope they pull the blank check and keys to the franchise from Ridley and force him to settle on a great bankable script and not deviate from it. There is money out there in this franchise but with these terrible box office numbers they have to wrap this up in one film. Give it a breather is my take, let some new talent give it a go. 


MemberChestbursterJul-23-2017 6:09 PMThis pretty amazing, they are trying once again, we ll see who the screenwriter is this time.


MemberNeomorphJul-23-2017 6:24 PM

Gavin, no offence but your information is totally wrong. Covenant is the second least popular Alien movie only ahead of AVP Requiem. Less people went to the theaters to watch it than to any other Alien movie. The original Alien is still the highest grossing one, when you adjust the numbers for inflation.

Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation

Rank Title (click to view) Studio Adjusted Gross Unadjusted Gross Release
1 Alien Fox $279,609,600 $78,944,891 5/25/79
2 Aliens Fox $204,063,200 $85,160,248 7/18/86
3 Prometheus Fox $139,099,300 $126,477,084 6/8/12
4 Alien 3 Fox $118,833,700 $55,473,545 5/22/92
5 Alien Vs. Predator Fox $114,929,000 $80,282,231 8/13/04
6 Alien Resurrection Fox $92,571,500 $47,795,658 11/26/97
7 Alien: Covenant Fox $73,520,700 $74,016,851 5/19/17
8 Aliens Vs. Predator - Requiem Fox $52,660,200 $41,797,066 12/25/07


MemberChestbursterJul-23-2017 9:24 PM

Comparing box office totals, adjusted or unadjusted, to a movie that came out nearly 40 years ago is totally pointless. Definitely not comparing apples to apples and it does not show how "popular" a movie is. That's more like comparing an apple to a refrigerator.

40 years ago there were only a few revenue streams. Box office was big factor in initial profits, along with later syndication. Home video sales was just beginning, so that was not a factor. Today theatrical is basically just a way to promote your movie, and usually studios lose money or just break even at that stage. Movie profits don't really start rolling in until the theatrical run is over and all the other far more profitable revenue streams kick in. Everything AFTER is where the studios really start to earn on a film.

If nobody buys the home video releases, VOD rentals are low, the premium channel Fox sells broadcast rights to (HBO) does not want to buy that many broadcasts, and the dozens of other outlets worldwide that Fox sells broadcast rights to do not want it, then maybe a sequel would be re-evaluated.



MemberTrilobiteJul-23-2017 10:05 PM

@ Joylitt

Using Box Office Mojo (which I source in the article) I can reveal that the numbers you include above are just the domestic or US numbers, not the worldwide numbers. It seems that despite many recently released movies making more in "foreign" markets than they do in the US, no one seems to have the information for the foreign gross of past movies adjusted for inflation, hence why I did not include such figures in the article.

Without the Worldwide total's adjusted for inflation the above numbers you quote (from Box Office Mojo, no Less) are not indicative of the true figures, because in the case of Alien Covenant the movie has made over twice as much in foreign revenue (68.1%) than it has in the US (31.9%), whereas Alien made much less in foreign markets (22.9%) than it did domestically (77.1%), as shown by the unadjusted worldwide gross totals.


MemberNeomorphJul-23-2017 10:26 PM

Honestly, I think it very unlikely that the first Alien got 20% of its revenues from the foreign market. I think the information probably was not properly recorded. What I can tell you is that I was shocked to see the movie theater 60% empty on opening weekend. And in the past the Alien movies used to have some legs, but the word of mouth killed Covenant. 


MemberOvomorphJul-23-2017 11:48 PM

I hope Ridley can tell his take on the franchise that he helped develop. I really don't like the trend that people feel entitled to second guess a storyteller or artist out of proportions. Yes, everyone is entitled to her or his opinion, but in the end a franchise that has so many fans and almost every fan has a head-canon version of a preferred take on this universe, then almost every director, screenwriter is set up to fail for a clearly visible and audible size of potential audience. I mean, I was there when ALien 3 flopped at the theatre, and it was a disppointment in regards that it wasn't the continuation I and many others were expecting, but the movie grew on me and looking back from where we are I think the consensus may be that it was a good installment of the series.
So, what I'd like to say is, I think Ridley deserves to tell his story of the origins (I myself find it very interesting and symbolic in many ways, and in this age of the advent of AI it is a cautionary tale as well), and the studio as the IPs owner can always decide later to remake, relaunch, whatever the franchise. Hell, I could imagine a TV-series even.
I know here we are talking about box office numbers, revenues and whatnot, but as Kethol mentioned, a sizable part of the profit comes from secondary sources no from cinemas.
Also, the original Alien didn't have to compete with a massive onslaught of summer blockbuster movies (from Disney et al) that are spoonfed to the audience with tremendous marketing efforts that a singular movie (even if it's part of a series) can not have rationally, partially because it is not suitable for all audience segments (as opposed to the yearly Marvel movies that compel people either becuse they are comics fans or they like the big names of the cast).


MemberOvomorphJul-24-2017 1:12 AM

We need another director for the Alien Franchise. Scott blew it with AC! What a complete piece of crap. Look what Blomkamp did with an extremely limited budget! 


MemberChestbursterJul-24-2017 5:08 AM

Blomkamp can't tell a story, and what stories he has told have been the same thing re-hashed. He needs to stay as far away from the Alien series as possible.


AdminPraetorianJul-24-2017 7:29 AM

@Asbjørn I did articles on each of Bloomkamp's new short movies. They're fun but I don't think he's the right choice to direct an Alien movie. I think it's wishful thinking to say Neil Blomkamp will save the Alien franchise. 

Zygote-Volume 1 is the third experimental film from Neill Blomkamp's Oats Studios  



MemberChestbursterJul-24-2017 9:01 AM

Hmm... I liked AC so much. This is really good movie. And finnaly good Alien movie from the time of Aliens 1986.

Capt Torgo

MemberFacehuggerJul-24-2017 10:00 AM

Bmickey I agree with you on many of your concerns but.......unlike Alien 3 these characters are SO BAD and unrealistic in Covenant that they won't age well i'm sure. It seems Ridley has put all his eggs in the Android basket and people are sick of the other actors becoming space faring chimps! Not to mention more than half the film is a rehash of what's done before. Ridley has just lost touch and his pride and ego have helped sour his spin-off prequels by not grounding the STORY and being pretentious about it. Can he be sat down and scolded or does he even give a hoot since he's pumping out movies like bowel movements. Like Ripley not trusting Bishop, I am very very weary of Ridley doing anything but focusing on Fassbinder at the cost of everything else. My numbers are just a guess but if Fox hoped to reach Prometheus numbers via box office or digital sales they are a long long way off. What would another flop from Scott accomplish for the general audience out there?


MemberXenomorphJul-24-2017 1:36 PM

Joylitt how on earth can you put in the same phrase AVP and A:C? The box office and imdb ranking are not entirely relevant for the value of a movie, especially with such active haters around. 


MemberXenomorphJul-24-2017 1:57 PM

I loved Alien Covenant and when it was over I felt the urge to see it again, unsettling and dark and creeping evil, lovecraftian. 


MemberOvomorphJul-24-2017 2:38 PM

@Lilly (Svanya) Blomkamp might not be the right choice, but was trying to say that Scott is burning a lot of dollars on fancy effects instead telling a good story. AC did not feel real to me at any time. Charactors where behaving like they where in some wierd reality show. There where way to much stuff going on in AC. Felt like they where trying to  recap the last four films in 2 hours. 


MemberXenomorphJul-24-2017 3:08 PM

Asbjørn it could have been much more stuff if the movies was longer, some fans are asking for more. Without the "fancy effects" it would look like district 9, did you find that even a better story? Blomkamp is frustrated and as much I understand him he should come nowhere near the Alien. If he has a good story let him made a good sf movie out of it.

Lawrence of Arabia

MemberChestbursterJul-24-2017 3:43 PM

I really hope Scott gets to tell his story as intended and gets to do at least two more films. Prometheus and Covenant are amazing films that are so much meatier than your typical horror/sci-fi films. 

Im Durp

MemberFacehuggerJul-24-2017 5:31 PM

I hope he get one more film for his prequel trilogy, but two seems like a lot especially with how strange the narrative was between the first two movies. 1 More movie to connect it then put the franchise on ice for a little at least till some one with promise revives it.

Lawrence of Arabia

MemberChestbursterJul-24-2017 5:44 PM

I don't see how the narrative was strange. Prometheus was David's story and Covenant continues that. I think a lot of people assumed the film was about Shaw, she was a main character but David was the star. I don't think one film will be enough to tell the story properly but we'll see. Ripley gets four films, David should get just as many.

Im Durp

MemberFacehuggerJul-24-2017 5:58 PM

The narrative went from finding our creators, then gets scrapped almost instantly once Covenant starts with David killing the only other group we see and now we're making Xenos. When Ripley first started this I believe he said we wouldn't even see a xeno till the third one, then we got pretty much a whole second movie about them.


Now apparently we're going back to engineers for the third movie so what was the point of the second? This narrative is very strange anyway you look at it.


Granted I think doing a whole trilogy for Alien prequels was a little much to begin with, I didn't personally care that much about the space jockey, or the eggs the mystery behind them was fun, now two movies in we have no idea how that started.

Lawrence of Arabia

MemberChestbursterJul-24-2017 6:09 PM

The Narrative, imo, is about creation and destruction and Covenant follows that. Prometheus was about finding our creators and knowing our place in the universe and Covenant slams that door shut. David found humanity's creator and deemed them unfit to be gods as they are 'mortal' like us. He develops a god complex and starts to create his own lifeforms, the Xenomorphs. The Xenomorphs isn't evil but indifferent, something worse than evil. Covenant is the film to re-introduce the Xenos and, in a way, I'm glad they brought them in sooner so we can see the Engineers reaction to all this.


As someone relatively new to the franchise, those were questions I had and, like Ridley, couldn't understand why nobody asked them. I understand the mystery of it all is alluring but these answers are just as enriching imo.


MemberNeomorphJul-24-2017 6:32 PM

Im Durp "Now apparently we're going back to engineers for the third movie so what was the point of the second?" You nailed it there. The answer is no point apart from telling you that David created the xenomorph. And the most frustrating part is that the characters did not learn absolutely anything about what's going on. I believe a trilogy should have worked if each chapter had a very different style and setup. The second movie could have taken place on the Engineers planet and featured Elizabeth Shaw; imagine if this movie was something like "Arrival" in reverse, where a human is an object of study, and where we learn more about Xeno mythology. A movie like this could be 2/3 mystery/ suspense, 1/3 horror. Then we can have a 3rd installment built more like an espionage thriller, with Weyland Yutani at the center. This could be 1/3 action, 1/3 suspense, 1/3 horror. This one should connect directly to the first Alien, but without ruining the fundamental nature of the Alien. Finally, I guess it would have been nice if the movies were shot back to back. That could have saved money and help make a more cohesive whole.

Im Durp

MemberFacehuggerJul-24-2017 6:35 PM

Creation and destruction are the themes maybe but I wouldn't say narrative. Right now depending on where the 3rd movie goes either Covenant or Prometheus will feel very out of place in these prequels. 


As for Xenos being indifferent and that being worse than evil, we'll just have to disagree on that subject since I don't agree with it in any way. 


The answers to questions may be alluring, but if the execution on those answers is not done well than it's not really worth it.

Lawrence of Arabia

MemberChestbursterJul-24-2017 7:39 PM

You're looking at the narrative too rigidly. Each film is another chapter with another goal. While not the same they still intersect, one wouldn't exist without the other. This is David's story, not Shaw's. She still serves an important role, she has a place in David's "heart" and ultimately gives birth to the Xenomorph.


"The Xenomorphs represent unsympathetic, unwavering death - not Evil, which is arguably worse as an objective evil would imply an objective good. Instead we are faced with chaos, and an abyss filled with violence. Paradise is lost."

Im Durp

MemberFacehuggerJul-24-2017 7:53 PM

But each chapter has to go into the next. Just having David doesn't justify the two hours we went on with Prometheus, and the origins to the Xeno, you could have just had the opening scene in A:C if you wanted to establish David, since that justifies what he does more than anything we see in Prometheus. This was the movie that brought the Xeno in and the origin is very haphazard to the average viewer. 

I'm not saying they don't connect at all they do, but almost in a lesser degree than even the Star Wars prequels connect. You need more than characters you need the things you did to actually effect the things in the next movie, and the things that connect are loose at best. Shaw went through a whole experience and goes to see why the Engineers acted like that. Que A:C now David kills them all, and makes a Xeno, Shaw's dead, so what was the point of Prometheus? Why make that chapter? 


MemberNeomorphJul-24-2017 10:57 PM

IMO and it is just only my own, I think ridley just isn't sure what he wants to do. theres been so many changes of direction from the very start. as im durp said, ridley stated the xeno was done and wanted to show us the other side of the alien universe and 'come in the back door' to tie up with alien. we got Prometheus and I believe a large portion of those who slammed it were more annoyed that ridley changed direction and ditched the whole alien approach with his ideas for the first sequel. it isn't now after AC that id say a large number of these people now see that Prometheus opened many more doors into the franchise than just another monster movie would have that Prometheus is starting to get the respect it probably should have got earlier. fans r fickle beings but not stupid. AC is a badly done movie. no character building, a 'highlights' feel to the pace of the film and just the sheer lack of filling the potential Prometheus laid the foundations for r more than evident in the numbers and reviews. it has been poorly received and that's down to ridley. for me, if he is to somehow pull a rabbit out the hat he needs to step away from having all the focus on david and spread the next film evenly between david and the engineers. they have been completely wasted imo. 15 mins at best in Prometheus and killed off in AC???? in 2 movies they have about 20 mins screen time and they r meant to be the whole point of this 'coming in from the back door' approach ridley had. I would however like RS to explore, as a side ark, the goings on behind the scenes within the company and maybe give us a hint that the synthetics have gained control, that would be good to see for me and would tie into why the humans in the alien films r so expendable and a better understanding of the synthetics role in AR

Dr. Curt Connors

MemberChestbursterJul-25-2017 10:36 AM

Covenant could and should have been an epic sci-fi/horror movie but Ridley dumbed it down to a crappy horror movie filled with horror movie clichés and therefore it creates ****ty box office numbers. When you make a ****ty movie you deserve to have ****ty box office, yes that always doesn't happen fortunately in this case it did cause Covenant is garbage. Ridley is to blame, yeah the writing sucks obviously but he must have liked it otherwise he wouldn't have made it. Let the Alien franchise rest in peace because anymore terrible prequels it will be resting in pieces.


MemberOvomorphJul-25-2017 11:04 AM

Agree with Dr. Connors! "Ridley is to blame, yeah the writing sucks obviously but he must have liked it otherwise he wouldn't have made it. "

AC sucked...let the credits is amusing coming here now and seeing this article assuring people sequels are not in danger...does the writer have  some real information and his opinion is he does not.....oh unless he is writing a check to fund the sequels he claims are assured lol 


Dr. Curt Connors

MemberChestbursterJul-25-2017 6:10 PM

@Brian51  Glad you agree

Galaxy Dave

MemberOvomorphJul-25-2017 6:49 PM

Scott should stay faaaaaaaarrrrrrr away from storytelling.  He's a great visual director.  That's it.  We need a director with a surreal sensibility that challenges the viewer in compelling ways.  

Its just so uninteresting anymore.  My hands throw up into the air as I say, "Who really cares?!"  The franchise is just so Gawd awful.  


A good story for film takes time to make.  It must be evaluated and re-evaluated while adding interesting aspects over time.  Originality is king!  Take the time to make it excellent, not because it's time to churn one out for the pocket book.  Money kills creativity.  Make time for creativity and the money will follow.



MemberNeomorphJul-25-2017 7:17 PM

The industry is starting to learn. Even horror movies are starting to get better when they invest in better writing and give the opportunity to emerging talent. Who would have said Ouija 2 would be good, or Annabelle Creation (no kidding, read early reviews if you don't believe me). If they can make you care about about the story in a movie about a silly doll, then anything is possible.


MemberOvomorphJul-26-2017 10:00 AM

I see there are people defending Ridley and AC a lot.

I must say that some people should open their eyes and mind that we have to admit that Ridley lost his touch. While his visuals are still great (except of the cheap CGI scenes of the xeno), the way the story is being narrated in thw movie (unlike in the AC novel) is below acceptaple standards for a block buster movie. It's only ok for cheap b movies where all characters act like dummies and cannon fodder.

Too many scenes were too predictable.


Dr. Curt Connors

MemberChestbursterJul-26-2017 11:03 AM

@Galaxy Dave @joylitt  @ALIEN1979  @Im Durp  @Brian51 @Capt Torgo  @asbjorn  @ali81   Could not agree more with everything you guys have said, you are all right on the money. But beware the more you disagree with certain people on here the more you become a troll because you have a different opinion, hahahaha. By now I am looking like one of those hideous trolls in Willow hiding under a bridge, hahahahahaha.

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