Friday, January 14, 2011

Ridley Scott scraps Alien prequel, goes ahead with original Prometheus.

Fascinating stuff, this is. Just days ago, we heard reports that Fox and Ridley Scott were butting heads over whom to cast as the female lead in the upcoming Alien prequel(s). Ridley Scott wanted Noomi Pace (Elizabeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), while 20th Century Fox wanted that box office dynamo Charlize Theron. Well, nevermind to all of that, because Ridley Scott and writer Damon Lindelof are instead going with an original story instead, apparently based on a script by Jon Spaihts. Prometheus will be released on March 9th, 2012. Little is known about the project, except that it will have bits and pieces of what might have been the Alien prequel at an earlier point in time. Noomi Pace has been cast as the main character, with bigger-name actresses (Charlize Theron, Angelina Jolie, etc) circling around a major supporting role. Fascinating...

There are a few things worth nothing about this. First of all, that Fox gave the go-ahead for Ridley Scott to just go off and tell his own story instead of sticking with the pre-sold Alien property is a refreshing development, and hopefully a sign of things to come. Perhaps Fox noticed the big success that greeted well-marketed original genre tent poles like Avatar and Inception. Or perhaps Fox just finally realized what I wrote about a few months ago: the Alien franchise is a cult series, with little potential to truly break out into blockbuster numbers. Whatever the case, it appears that saner heads have prevailed, and it will be interesting to see A) what this new film will cost (hopefully not $150 million and B) whether Ridley Scott and 20th Century Fox will have any squabbles over the rating of said science-fiction picture.

It's also worth tempering our enthusiasm just a bit. Ridley Scott has not exactly been on an artistic winning streak of late. While it's nice that he'll be returning to science-fiction for the first time since the cult-classic/box office flop Blade Runner in 1982, this is still the same Ridley Scott who just made the stunningly mediocre Robin Hood, and who hasn't made a truly great movie since Kingdom of Heaven seven years ago (and I'm aware that I'm in the minority on that one). Point being, this isn't James Cameron coming out of retirement, Terence Malick announcing his next project, or Spike Lee finally getting to make his Joe Lewis biopic. This is Ridley Scott having an interesting story idea while crafting a somewhat desperate prequel to the film that launched his career and convincing Fox to let him make the other movie instead.

It's great news from those sick of reboots and pointless cash-ins, but Ridley Scott is the man who made Hannibal, 1492, and Robin Hood. Here's hoping that the Ridley Scott who made Blade Runner and Kingdom of Heaven shows up for work. Come what may, this news makes me want to watch Legend for the first time in about twenty years or so (I own the DVD, but never got around to watching the extended cut). The official press release is below.

Scott Mendelson

Los Angeles (January 14, 2011) __

Twentieth Century Fox announced today that Ridley Scott will direct PROMETHEUS, an original science fiction epic, for worldwide release on March 9, 2012. The initial draft of the script was written by Jon Spaihts (The Darkest Hour) from Scott’s idea. Damon Lindelof (Lost, Star Trek) and Scott have since been working together on the current version which has expanded the story into new directions.

Story details are being closely guarded so as not to spoil surprises for moviegoers, but Scott explained the outlines of the film and its genesis as follows:

“While Alien was indeed the jumping off point for this project, out of the creative process evolved a new, grand mythology and universe in which this original story takes place. The keen fan will recognize strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, large and provocative. I couldn’t be more pleased to have found the singular tale I’d been searching for, and finally return to this genre that’s so close to my heart.”

“In a world flooded with prequels, sequels and reboots,” said Lindelof. “I was incredibly struck by just how original Ridley’s vision was for this movie. It’s daring, visceral and hopefully, the last thing anyone expects. When I sat in a movie theater as a kid, feet raised off the floor for fear that something might grab my ankles, I never dreamed in my wildest imagination I would one day get to collaborate with the man responsible for it. Working alongside him has been nothing short of a dream come true.”

Of the five major roles to be cast, Noomi Rapace is the first actor signed to star in the film. The young Swedish actress landed the role of scientist Elizabeth Shaw after Scott saw her portrayal of fictional Lisbeth Salander in the film The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, for which she was lauded by Time magazine as a 2010 Performance of the Year. Rapace starred in all three entries of the breakout global franchise based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy of books (The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest are the other two entries), which have collectively grossed more than $212 million worldwide.

1 comment:

R.L. Shaffer said...

So essentially this will be the second discarded Alien story that's been turned into something else. I still believe Avatar was Cameron's idea for an Alien sequel, simply redesigned to fit a new mold.

I'm both happy and sad about this. I'm happy studios are getting behind fresh stories. Sad, because it just means someone will hire some crap director to make an Alien movie at some point down the line.


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