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How The Audience For Alien Movies Has Changed Since 1979, According To Ridley Scott

Ellen Ripley Alien 1979

Although he's pushing 80, Ridley Scott remains a consistent presence in the film industry after five decades of groundbreaking work. He has seen trends come and go, but many of his movies continue to represent timeless aspects of Hollywood history. Given his long resume in the world of entertainment, I recently asked the Alien: Covenant director how audiences have changed since he created his infamous sci-fi/horror franchise back in 1979 when Ellen Ripley encountered her first Xenomorph. By Scott's estimation, fans haven't changed much, but they're certainly harder to shock these days. The director explained:

They're fundamentally the same, but I think they've been hit with an abundance of violence both in movies, many more movies, many more movies not necessarily being as good. Listen, there's always good movies but when we're now doing twice as many movies as we were in '79 you're bound to have a fallout. I think the audiences are getting slightly blunt to the sensitivity of certain kinds of movies. There's too much media coming at them.

I would argue that there's quite a bit of validity to Ridley Scott's assessment of modern audiences. Have you ever watched a movie that's considered a horror classic and then found yourself taken aback by how not scary it is? Modern audiences are bombarded with content and media with such a staggering frequency that we find ourselves desensitized to particular types of genres and depictions of horror.

The evidence of this argument can be seen by comparing the original Alien to the events of Alien: Covenant. Although Ridley Scott's original Xenomorph adventure is certainly a violent film, it's oddly bloodless and slow paced when simply compared to the marketing campaign for Covenant. He has had to turn up the intensity to match the changes that have taken place in audiences, and that's because fans are used to seeing more violence these days.

Having said that, I still find myself somewhat taken aback by Ridley Scott's statement for the simple fact that many of his movies don't necessarily fall into that trap. Although it's been almost four decades since the original Alien first debuted in theaters, the film holds up compared to other horror outings of the same era. The same can be said for plenty of other Ridley Scott films -- from Blade Runner to Black Hawk Down. It's hard to pinpoint an exact reason for this, but I would argue that it shows Scott's creative foresight as a director. Tension, suspense, and practical special effects never get old, and Ridley Scott's previous work continues to hold up for modern audiences because he (unlike many of his contemporaries) was able to embrace certain timeless filmmaking qualities.

Check out my interview with Ridley Scott below for a more in-depth look at what he had to say about moviegoing audiences:

Alien: Covenant will hit theaters this weekend on May 19. Beyond that, make sure to take a look at our movie premiere guide for more details related to the rest of this year's biggest silver screen releases!

Conner Schwerdtfeger
Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.