It's not easy for a franchise like Alien to keep moving forward, and somehow it's survived a revival with Ridley Scott's Prometheus. Now with Alien: Covenant heading to theaters in a couple of months, the franchise has a chance at either continuing its run or ending without a trace. If you ask James Cameron, it should probably take the latter option, as he's not exactly happy about the direction the franchise has moved in, and he's not shy to say it.
During an interview with Vulture, Cameron basically unloaded both barrels on Ridley Scott's storied series, stating that anything after Aliens is not his fault, and it's all pretty much crap. The difference between his film and any of the other sequels that came after, at least according to James Cameron himself, is that his was a "fanboy" homage that paid tribute to what Ridley Scott did with the series. But then the series went wrong in accordance with Cameron's following remarks:
Did someone get the license plate on that statement? While he surely sounds like a Ridley Scott fan, it does sound like he wasn't a fan of Prometheus. It could be the "Freudian biomechanoid meme" remark, or maybe Cameron's insistence that he'd sit through a "not-so-great" Scott film out of fandom that tipped us off to it. However, by time you stop to try and think about which 100 horror films he's seen that have helped him get over the Alien franchise, it definitely sounds more like a burn than a compliment.
Then again, James Cameron is pretty familiar with sequels, so maybe he's onto something. Let's not forget there was Terminator 2: Judgement Day, where he basically took his first film and re-invented it into a humanistic tale of fighting against what we perceive as fate. Not to mention, Aliens and Rambo: First Blood Part II were integral to building his career into what it is, and he managed to take both of those films and build on existing ideas, while innovating to the crowd's tastes. When you look at Cameron's career, there's plenty of footnotes where sequels factor into important roles.
Of course, the fact that James Cameron is making at least four sequels to Avatar certainly doesn't look good for his point about how the Alien franchise has lost steam. Say what you will about Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection, but at least both of those films were flawed in ways that we hadn't seen in other films. Not to mention the former was flawed due to over-involvement with the studio and the latter was simply so far removed from the franchise that at least it went in interesting directions. What are four Avatar sequels going to do besides remind us that Dances With Wolves should have stuck with one movie instead of try to make a franchise out of it?
In the end, Avatar 2 through Avatar 5 and Alien: Covenant are going to face the same problem in their unique ways. They're both going to have to convince the movie-going populace that they should exist, and that they have a purpose. Ultimately, it'll be decided by the crowds which franchise is vital and which is but a memory of former glory. You'll get the chance to vote with your wallets when Alien: Covenant hits theaters on May 20th and Avatar 2 makes its debut on December 21, 2018.