This year marks the 40th anniversary of Ridley Scott’s Alien, the sci-fi horror classic which pitted a starship crew against a Xenomorph in the middle of space where no one could hear them scream. Since then, the franchise has evolved to incorporate sequels, prequels, and crossover event movies that differed in quality. That said, the series remains popular to this day and few will dispute the fact that the original film is an undisputed classic.
To mark the milestone anniversary, 21st Century Fox has teamed up with Tongal to produce six short films by aspiring filmmakers who’ve been allowed to play with the intellectual property and contribute to the mythology in their own way. According to Fox (per The Hollywood Reporter), over 550 submissions were received, meaning that the chosen six beat out some significant competition.
More than anything, though, Tongal and Fox hope that this will help some talented up and comers gain some significant exposure. Tongal co-founder and CEO James DeJulio claims this is all part of his company’s ambition to introduce the filmmakers of the future.
“This partnership with Fox is really reflective of Tongal’s mission to bring creative opportunities to the next generation of talent.”
“Being able to give filmmakers everywhere the chance to make their mark on an iconic franchise and extend the ‘Alien’ narrative was really special for us and everyone involved. And the superfans delivered in a big way. We can’t wait for the fans to see what they’ve created — because at the end of the day, it was made for them.”
Whether or not any of these filmmakers proves to be the next Ridley Scott remains to be seen. But here’s hoping that their efforts open doorways to bigger and brighter things. Perhaps a new studio protege will emerge from this? If DeJulio was being sincere with his sentiment, these shorts mean more than giving a bunch of diehard fans an opportunity to pay homage to the franchise they adore.
You only need to look at James Wan, New Line Cinema, and Warner Bros. to see the benefits of finding and nurturing new talent. In recent years, they have given several unexpected filmmakers — the most famous being director David F. Sandberg — the chance to helm big projects after plucking them from obscurity. Now that guys like Sandberg are making tentpole superhero movies, it’s safe to say the risks paid off. On top of that, Wan and New Line are producing a reality TV series to find the next great horror filmmaker. More influential entities should take a chance on the little guy.
Even if the filmmakers involved in these shorts don’t go on to conquer Hollywood, I’m excited to see their ideas for the Alien Universe. Despite the underwhelming performance of Alien: Covenant, Scott appears to be hogging the cinematic franchise to himself for the foreseeable future. For those of us who are still upset that we’ll never get to see Neil Blomkamp’s canceled sequel, these shorts could be the next best thing for seeing new ideas brought to the IP.
The shorts will be released weekly online by the entertainment site IGN beginning March 29th before being added to the Alien Universe website and the Alien Anthology social media channels. In the meantime, Fox has released a trailer for the short films, as well as plot details about each one.
Hope, an abandoned crew member aboard the derelict chemical hauler Otranto, has spent a year trying to keep her ship and herself alive as both slowly fall apart. After discovering hidden cargo, she risks it all to power up the broken ship in search of human life. Written and directed by Noah Miller.
Four survivors find themselves stranded aboard a small escape pod in deep space. Trying to piece together the details around the outbreak that led to their ship’s destruction, they find themselves unsure to trust whether or not one of them might be infected. Written and directed by Chris Reading.
The surviving crew of a damaged deep-space harvester has minutes to reach the emergency evacuation shuttle. A motion sensor is their only navigation tool leading them to safety while a creature in the shadows terrorizes the crew. However, the greatest threat might have been hiding in plain sight all along. Directed by Benjamin Howdeshell.
Alien: Night Shift
When a missing space trucker is discovered hungover and disoriented, his co-worker suggests a nightcap as a remedy. Near closing time, they are reluctantly allowed inside the colony supply depot where the trucker’s condition worsens, leaving a young supply worker alone to take matters into her own hands. Written and directed by Aidan Breznick.
As a hard-working miner of a planet mining colony, Lorraine longs to make a better life for her daughter and grandchildren. When her shift uncovers the death of a fellow miner under mysterious circumstances, Lorraine is forced to choose between escape or defying management orders and facing her fears to fight for the safety of her family. Written and directed by the Spear Sisters.
It’s the night shift in a colony greenhouse, and Julie, a botanist, does her best to contain suspicious soil samples that have triggered her sensitive lab dog. Despite her best efforts, the lab unexpectedly goes into full shutdown and she is trapped inside. Little does she know, an Alien specimen has escaped the mysterious cargo, and a game of cat and mouse ensues as the creature searches for a host. Written and directed by Kelsey Taylor.