We are less than a month out from Disney announcing its landmark purchase of 21st Century Fox, but the ramifications of the deal will be unfolding for years to come. If the deal gets finalized, many questions remain about how Fox's existing properties will be affected and if they have a place under the Disney banner. Much of this stems from Fox's decades-long history of making daring adult fare that may not be in harmony with Disney's well-established, family-friendly image. One of the properties with an uncertain future is the Alien franchise. The sci-fi horror franchise is an iconic part of film history and has recently seen new chapters under Alien director Ridley Scott. With the details of the deal up in the air, Ridley Scott recently spoke about his hope that the franchise can continue, saying:
It looks to me that the Fox deal is certainly going to go ahead with Disney, and I've been with Fox for a number years now. I'm hoping I'll still probably be there so whether or not they go ahead with such a dark subject, being Disney, as aliens remains to be seen. I think they should because I think, when people have a hard and fast franchise which has ongoing interest, it's crazy not to do something with it.
It seems that Ridley Scott is certainly open to continue the Alien franchise at Disney, but I imagine it would have to be on his terms. The director has already expressed why he would never do a Star Wars movie, but Alien is his baby so he would surely like the opportunity to continue it at Disney. Ridley Scott's comments to the Digital Spy that a well-known franchise with fan interest should be a no brainer to continue make sense. After all, Disney is first and foremost a blockbuster studio. The House of Mouse has achieved the success it has (to the point where it could buy a chunk of Fox) by investing in powerful brands and crafting four-quadrant blockbuster films that succeed critically and financially. But while Ridley Scott believes that Alien should be on the level of Marvel and Star Wars, it is likely a bit more complicated than that.
The question is whether or not Disney will be interested in continuing the Alien franchise as it currently stands. The first thing to consider is the R rating. While some fear for the future of properties like Deadpool, Disney has shown at least some openness to keep the Merc with a Mouth R-rated. It is true that Disney has a family friendly image to maintain, but something tells me that it can easily differentiate adult content from its other properties. Above all, Disney is a publicly traded, for-profit company, and it would be surprising to see the company leave money on the table. But the Alien franchise has not enjoyed the same level of critical or financial success in recent years as Fox's R-rated Marvel films.
The Alien franchise is in a weird place. After Prometheus' minor success it was surmised that what fans craved was more of the Xenomorph-centric horror that made the franchise famous in the first place. But it was clear that Ridley Scott was more interested in questions of artificial intelligence. So Alien: Covenant wound up being a film that I believe had no identity and had split opinions overall. More importantly, it was a box office disappointment, making a little over half of what its predecessor made. Now the future is in question. Will Disney want to continue a franchise that doesn't exactly have people clamoring for a sequel? Can the studio justify an R-rated film that has a questionable chance at success?
While Alien is a beloved brand, I wonder if Disney will see any value in continuing the franchise in its current form. But if it does, it seems that Ridley Scott is on board to continue scaring us while posing thought-provoking questions. This is just one of many interesting issues that should play out for years to come, once Disney begins to unwrap and play with all its new toys.