After a space merchant vessel receives an unknown transmission as a distress call, one of the crew is attacked by a mysterious life form and they soon realise that its life cycle has merely begun.
Alien is a science-fiction horror/action media franchise centred on the film series depicting warrant officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and her battles with an extraterrestrial lifeform, commonly referred to as “the Alien” or Xenomorph.
Produced and distributed by 20th Century Studios, the series began with Alien (1979), directed by Ridley Scott, and was followed by three sequels, Aliens (1986), Alien 03 (1992), and Alien Resurrection (1997), directed by James Cameron, David Fincher, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, respectively.
Scott also directed a prequel series, composed of Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017), which follows the exploits of the David 8 android and the creators of the eponymous creatures referred to as the “Engineers”.
The series has led to numerous novels, comics, and video game spin-offs.
The Alien franchise depicts a series of deadly encounters between humanity and the Aliens; a hostile, endoparasitoid, extraterrestrial species. Predominantly transpiring in the future, between the 21st and 24th centuries, humanity is shown to have become a space-faring race that has established an interstellar dominion. Travel between the different sectors of space is achieved through lengthy travel that typically lasts for months or years and necessitates the extensive utilisation of cryosleep for the brunt of it. Throughout the series, an ensemble of characters are repeatedly manipulated by and put in harm’s way by the greedy, unscrupulous, megacorporation Weyland-Yutani Corp which seeks to capture the Aliens for bio-weaponisation purposes.
The series provides a fictionalised account of the origin of the human race. Billions of years prior to the main events of the films, a member of an ancient humanoid species, called the “Engineers”, sacrifices himself, allowing for his DNA to spark the genesis of mankind. The Engineers’ other experiments, designed to exterminate the human race through the means of a deadly mutagen, paves the way for the Aliens to rise and populate through the traumatic implantation of larvae in hosts. Different incidents transpiring over several generations are chronicled throughout the franchise.
A crew aboard the luxury science vessel USCSS Prometheus perishes when they discover the Engineers and the Alien mutagen. The android from the mission, David 8, experiments with the mutagen on the Engineers’ Earth-like world (named Planet 4), wiping out the population and subsequently luring in the colony ship USCSS Covenant to continue his work. Decades later, the crew of the Weyland-Yutani space freighter USCSS Nostromo investigates a distress signal from a crashed alien spaceship on planet Acheron or LV-426 and inadvertently allows for an Alien to gestate, leading to the destruction of the ship. Ellen Ripley, the lone survivor of the Nostromo and main protagonist of the original series, experiences several additional encounters with the Aliens and Weyland-Yutani as she returns to LV-426/Acheron along with the crew aboard the Colonial Marines vessel USCSS Sulaco, eventually leading to her suicide on the rugged prison planet Fiorina 161 and subsequent cloning several hundred years later on the military research vessel USM Auriga.
After completion of the film Dark Star (1974), writer Dan O’Bannon wanted to develop some of the ideas (especially “alien hunts crew through a spaceship”) and create a science-fiction action film. Provisionally called Memory, screenwriter Ronald Shusett collaborated with O’Bannon on the project, adding elements from a previous O’Bannon script, Gremlins, which featured gremlins causing mayhem aboard a World War II bomber. The duo finished the script, initially titled Star Beast – it was changed to Alien after O’Bannon noticed the number of times the word “alien” occurred in the script. Their script was sold to Brandywine Productions, a company formed by producers Gordon Carroll, David Giler, and Walter Hill which had a distribution deal with 20th Century Fox, (now 20th Century Studios). The writers expected it to be a low-budget film, but the success of Star Wars inclined 20th Century Fox to invest millions.
In the original script, the ship had an all-male crew (though the script’s “Cast of Characters” section explicitly states that “The crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men or women”), including the Ripley character, who was to be played by Tom Skerritt. Later, when Fox president Alan Ladd Jr. and the producers at Brandywine heard rumours of Fox working on other titles with strong female leads, it was decided to cast a female as Ripley and Skerritt became Captain Dallas. Shortly before filming began, Veronica Cartwright was set for the Ripley role, but director Scott opted for Sigourney Weaver following screen tests. Cartwright played Navigator Lambert in the movie, the final crew member to be killed.
Swiss painter and sculptor H. R. Giger designed the alien creature’s adult form and the derelict ship, while French artist Mœbius created the look of the spacesuits and Ron Cobb provided most of the on-set designs.
While the first film of the series, directed by Ridley Scott, was successful, Fox did not consider a sequel until 1983, when James Cameron expressed his interest to producer David Giler in continuing the Alien story. After Cameron’s The Terminator became a box office hit, Cameron and partner Gale Anne Hurd were given approval to direct and produce the sequel to Alien, scheduled for a 1986 release. Cameron wrote the screenplay from a story he developed with Giler and Walter Hill.
Following the second film, Weaver was not interested in returning to the series and so producers David Giler and Walter Hill commissioned a third Alien film without the Ripley character. The premise was to return Ripley in a fourth instalment, but Fox’s president Joe Roth did not agree with Ripley’s removal and Weaver was offered a $5 million salary and a producer credit to make Alien 03. Released in 1992, the film was troubled from the start, with production beginning without even a finished script. With $1 million already spent on production, music video director David Fincher, the third director considered for the film, was hired to helm the project. Giler, Hill and Larry Ferguson wrote the screenplay, based on a story from an earlier script by Vincent Ward. After production was completed in late 1991, the studio reworked the film without Fincher’s involvement or consent. The death of Ripley was designed to bring closure to the Alien franchise by killing off the principal character.
While fans and critics initially did not receive Alien 03 well, the film still did well at the box office worldwide and piqued Fox’s interest in continuing the franchise. In 1996, production on the fourth Alien film, Alien Resurrection, began. Ripley was not in the script’s first draft, and Weaver was not interested in reprising the role. She joined the project after being offered an $11 million salary and more creative control, including director approval. The script, set 200 years after Alien 03, resurrected the Ripley character via human cloning. The film, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and released in 1997, experienced an extended production and was described by screenwriter Joss Whedon as having done “everything wrong” with his script.
On its way back to Earth, the commercial spaceship USCSS Nostromo is diverted to a desolate planetoid by a cryptic signal from a derelict alien spacecraft. While exploring the alien ship, one of the Nostromo’s crewmen discovers the remains of the ship’s pilot and also a large chamber that contains thousands of egg-like objects. One of the eggs releases a creature that attaches itself to his face and renders him unconscious. The others break quarantine to bring him back aboard the ship. The parasite dies and the crewman wakes up, seemingly fine. Soon afterwards, an alien organism bursts from his chest and grows extremely rapidly into a terrifying eight-foot (about 2.5 metres) tall creature that starts killing off the crew.
After 57 years in hypersleep, the sole survivor of the USCSS Nostromo, Ellen Ripley, awakens aboard a medical space station orbiting Earth. Her story of the Alien terror she encountered is disbelieved and she learns that the planetoid from the first film (now designated as LV-426 or Acheron) is now home to a terraforming colony. When contact with the colony is lost, Ripley, against her better judgement and to regain her pilot’s license, hesitantly accompanies a squad of high-tech Elite Colonial Marines aboard the spaceship USS Sulaco to investigate. Once there, they discover the colonists have been wiped out after finding the derelict alien ship (and its deadly cargo) from the first film.
Alien 03 (1992)
Due to a fire aboard the USS Sulaco, an escape pod carrying the survivors of the second film is automatically jettisoned. It crash-lands on the refinery/prison planet Fiorina “Fury” 161, but Ripley is the only one to survive the crash. Unbeknown to her, an Alien Facehugger was also aboard the ship. Before long, a full-sized Alien is then loose in the prison, killing the inmates and staff. Ripley also discovers there is an Alien queen growing inside her, and must not only kill the rampaging Alien but also herself in order to save humanity.
Alien Resurrection (1997)
Two hundred years after the events of the previous film, several clones of Ellen Ripley (including the alien queen she was carrying) are produced. The Alien Queen is surgically removed from her body as the United Systems Military hopes to breed Aliens to study on the spaceship USM Auriga, using human hosts kidnapped and delivered to them by a group of mercenaries on board a transport starship called the Betty. The Aliens escape their enclosures, while Ripley 8 (a clone mixed with Alien DNA) and the mercenaries attempt to escape and destroy the Auriga before it reaches Earth.
Development of a prequel story began in the early 2000s when both Ridley Scott and James Cameron started to develop ideas for a story that would explore the origins of the Alien. In 2002, the development of Alien vs. Predator had taken precedence and the prequel project remained dormant until 2009. Jon Spaihts wrote the first screenplay for the project, but Scott then opted for a different direction and hired Damon Lindelof in 2010, to rewrite the script into a story that focused on the creators of the Aliens, rather than the Aliens themselves. The film, titled Prometheus, was released in 2012 to box office success and lukewarm critical reception.
By 2014, development on the second prequel was underway, with Scott returning as director. The film’s screenplay was initially written by Jack Paglen in 2013, but was subsequently rewritten by Michael Green and Dante Harper, before Scott’s collaborator from Gladiator, John Logan, wrote the final version. The film, titled Alien: Covenant, commenced production in February 2016 and was released on 19 May 2017. Alien: Covenant was a box office disappointment, grossing $240.9 million worldwide against a production budget of $97 million, while also receiving lukewarm critical reviews. The story of the prequel series centres around the android David 8, and two crews he accompanies on expeditions to meet the mysterious Engineers.
Some 30 years before the events of Alien, scientists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a star map among the remnants of several ancient Earth cultures. Accompanied by David 8 and hoping to discover the origins of humanity, they journey aboard the spaceship USCSS Prometheus and arrive on the distant planet LV-223 in the Zeta2 Reticuli system, the same region of space in which the planetoid LV-426 from Alien is found. There they discover the ancient remains of an advanced civilisation, called the Engineers (the same race as the dead pilot from the derelict ship in Alien), who were developing biological weapons in the form of a pathogenic mutagen which could have driven the human race extinct. The horrors they encounter result in the loss of the crew except for David and Shaw.
Alien: Covenant (2017)
Eleven years after the events of Prometheus, the colony ship USCSS Covenant, carrying thousands of colonists and hundreds of human embryos in cryo-stasis, makes its way towards the planet Origae-6. The crew is awakened by a neutrino blast and intercepts a transmission sent from Shaw, which they decide to trace to an apparently habitable Engineer home world (referred to as Planet 4), devoid of all non-floral life. When several crew members are infected by the same mutagen encountered by the Prometheus crew and give birth to a new breed of Alien, the Neomorphs, the android David 8 rescues them. It is revealed that he brought Shaw to the planet, where he killed all non-floral life and began experimenting on Shaw’s corpse to engineer his own breeds of Aliens. His motivations to replace human life with Aliens is made apparent, and with the birth of yet another new breed of Alien, a terraforming expert named Daniels and the remaining crew are forced to flee from the world. After disposing of the Aliens chasing them, the crew members return to the Covenant and are put back into cryosleep by someone they believe to be their shipboard synthetic, Walter. Only when Daniels is put in her cryopod does she realise that Walter has been replaced by the identical David. With the crew, colonists, and embryos at his mercy, David contacts Weyland-Yutani back on Earth, stating that while the majority of the crew was killed in the neutrino blast, they would be continuing on towards Origae-6.
In 2012 and 2017 respectively, Ridley Scott directed eight short films to tie in with the releases of Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. In July 2018, it was reported that 20th Century Fox had joined forces with Tongal to produce short films, intended to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Alien franchise. By March 2019, the details of the short films were released. Tongal co-founder and CEO James DeJulio stated that the joint-production is “reflective of Tongal’s mission to bring creative opportunities to the next generation of talent.” The shorts were released weekly on IGN, after which they were uploaded to the Alien Universe web page, as well as all Alien social media pages on 05 May of the same year. All six of the short films premiered at the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle. The 40th anniversary short films are available as a Movies Anywhere-exclusive bonus feature accompanying the digital release of Alien.
In the mid-1990s, screenwriter Stuart Hazeldine wrote a treatment titled Alien: Earthbound. Fox executives were impressed by the script, having read it after Alien Resurrection had entered post-production. Joss Whedon had written an Earth-set script for Alien 05, but Sigourney Weaver was not interested and wanted it to be set on the original planetoid. She has remained open to a role on the condition that she likes the story. Before 20th Century Fox greenlit Alien vs. Predator, James Cameron had been collaborating on the plot for a fifth Alien film with another writer, but ceased work on learning of the crossover. Cameron stated that the crossover would “kill the validity of the franchise,” and that “it was Frankenstein Meets Werewolf” – like “Universal just taking their assets and starting to play them off against each other.” Although he liked the final product, he ruled out any future involvement with the series. In late 2008, Weaver hinted in an interview with MTV that she and Scott were working on an Alien spin-off film, which would focus on the chronicles of Ellen Ripley rather than on the Aliens, but the continuation of Ripley’s story has not materialised.
Sigourney Weaver has expressed her interest in returning to the role of Ripley with Neill Blomkamp’s Alien 05 story (purportedly titled Alien: Awakening) which would tie into the first two Alien films by taking place after Aliens and foregoing involvement with the other two sequels. This was cancelled in favour of Scott’s own untitled third prequel (also purportedly titled Alien: Awakening), which was later also cancelled following the disappointing box office results of Alien: Covenant. In February 2019, James Cameron stated that he was working on reviving Blomkamp’s project. In June 2020, Brandywine Productions revealed that a screenplay for a new instalment in the original series called “Alien V”, centred around Ripley, had been written by Walter Hill and David Giler.
After the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by The Walt Disney Company, it was officially confirmed at the 2019 CinemaCon that future Alien films are in development. In May 2019, Variety reported that the third prequel film was reportedly “in the script phase”, with Ridley Scott attached to direct.
Television and Stage
In 1979, 20th Century Fox considered producing a television series based upon the 1979 film Alien and hoped that ABC would pick it up but its only media coverage was found in the June 1980 Fangoria issue #6 and it ended up abandoned as the 1986 sequel Aliens arrived on the scene. In 1992, a now cancelled animated series inspired by the 1986 film Aliens titled Operation: Aliens was being produced along with an LCD game, board game, and action figures. However the brand lived on through Kenner toylines as simply Aliens and in the comics series included with the action figures as well as in the Aliens/Predator Universe trading cards set. In 2007, Ain’t It Cool News reported that a now cancelled animated series inspired by the 1986 film Aliens titled Aliens: War Games was being produced. On 13 February 2019, Bloody Disgusting reported about rumours of an Alien television series currently being developed at the hands of Ridley Scott and Hulu.
In 2014, Sega published the video game Alien: Isolation. On 20 February 2019, Axis Animation reported that a seven-episode animated adaptation of Alien: Isolation was in development. On 27 February 2019, IGN confirmed that the seven-part Alien: Isolation – The Digital Series would be exclusively released to IGN on 28 February 2019. The series, developed by 20th Century Fox, in conjunction with Reverse Engineering Studios and DVgroup, was created using a combination of brand-new scenes animated from scratch, cinematics taken directly from the original game, and digital recreations of first-person scenes from the game. Alien: Isolation is set in 2137, 15 years after the events of Alien and 42 years prior to Aliens, following Amanda Ripley, who is investigating the disappearance of her mother, Ellen Ripley, as she is transferred to the space station Sevastopol to find the flight recorder of the Nostromo only to discover an Alien has terrorised the station, killing the vast majority of the crew. Andrea Deck reprises her role as Amanda Ripley.
Alien: The Play
From 19 to 22 March 2019, North Bergen High School (New Jersey, US) staged an adaptation of Alien, entitled Alien: The Play, which was widely praised and granted seals of approval by Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Sigourney Weaver and Walter Hill.
In the aftermath of the play’s popularity and approval, North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco’s non-profit foundation pledged funds for more performances.
“Alien Day”, 26 April, has become the fan celebration day for the Alien franchise.
The date derives from LV-426, the “426” converting to “4/26” or “April 26”.
On Alien Day 2016, Neill Blomkamp released new art for his concept of Alien 5, and the Audible Original audio play adaptation of Alien: Out of the Shadows was released.
On Alien Day 2017, 20th Century Fox released “The Crossing” prologue short film for Alien: Covenant, and the Audible Original audio play adaptation of Alien: River of Pain was released.
The Bishop character has been the subject of literary and philosophical analysis as a high-profile android character conforming to science fiction author Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics and as a model of a compliant, potentially self-aware machine.
The portrayal of androids in the Alien series – Ash in Alien, Bishop in Aliens and Alien 03, and Call (Winona Ryder) in Alien Resurrection (1997) – has been studied for its implications relating to how humans deal with the presence of an “Other”, as Ripley treats them with fear and suspicion, and a form of “hi-tech racism and android apartheid” is present throughout the series.
This is seen as part of a larger trend of technophobia in films prior to the 1990’s, with Bishop’s role being particularly significant as he redeems himself at the end of Aliens, thus confounding Ripley’s expectations.
The Ripley impact crater on Pluto’s moon Charon was given its name in honour of Ellen Ripley.
Betamax, VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, and Blu-ray. The multiple single releases on VHS were generally the original theatrical cuts of each film.
Laserdisc saw single releases of all theatrical versions, as well as two so-called “box sets” which only contained one film (there were two single releases, one each for Alien and Aliens) but had multiple discs and a large amount of supplemental material with a high retail price tag (around US$100). The Aliens set included a new “Special Edition” cut of the film completed by James Cameron just for this release, which was a significantly extended version of the film.
The films made their DVD debut in 1999, both as part of a boxed set (see Alien Legacy below) and as separate single-disc releases of each film (Aliens was only available in its “Special Edition” cut, not its original theatrical cut, which did not make it to DVD until the next boxed set). Following the Alien Quadrilogy set (see below), each film received individual two-disc releases containing the content of each film from that set. Since then, there have been multiple issues and reissues of the films, in both their theatrical or extended version, though some single releases include both.
In addition to the single releases, there have been seven complete box sets of the series at various points in its history. With the exception of the DVD version of the Aliens Triple Pack, each release contained all films that had come out at the time the sets were released. The seven box sets each had unique characteristics and features which were then sometimes reused in later sets or single releases in one form or another, most notably the Blu-ray Anthology, which includes a detailed archive of many previous releases, including the rare Laserdisc box sets.
- Alien Triple Pack (VHS, 1992), containing the first two films in the series and a third cassette with a 23-minute preview of the then upcoming theatrical release of Alien 03 (Not to be confused with the 2008 DVD set of the same name below.)
- Alien Trilogy (VHS, 1993), a three-cassette packaging of Alien, Aliens (in its LaserDisc Special Edition cut, for the first time on another format) and Alien 03.
- Alien Saga (VHS, 1997), UK boxed set with the first three films plus a “Making of Alien Resurrection” cassette. It was released again in 1998 with the Alien Resurrection film included. A Japan-exclusive Laserdisc pack containing the first three films released in 1999 also had the same name (A planned US version was cancelled as DVDs were quickly taking over the much smaller domestic Laserdisc market in that country.)
- Alien Legacy (VHS/DVD, 1999), a four-volume set containing the 1991 Laserdisc “Special Edition” cut of Aliens, the theatrical versions of the other three films, and on DVD various supplemental materials that were either re-used from Laserdisc or newly created.
- Alien Quadrilogy (DVD, 2003), considered one of the most exhaustive box sets of the DVD era in terms of content and special features, was spread over nine discs: four discs (one disc each) for the theatrical and extended cuts of each film (new “2003” cuts of Alien, Alien 03, and Alien Resurrection and the previously released 1991 “Special Edition” cut of Aliens), four discs containing special features specific to each film, and an extra disc of documentaries and other supplemental content.
- The films were later re-released as two-disc individual titles as part of 20th Century Fox’s Collector’s Series.
- Alien Triple Pack (DVD, 2008), a three-disc package including the theatrical cuts of Alien and Alien 3, as well as the “Special Edition” of Aliens. This set reused the name of the 1992 VHS set (this was an unusual release in that Alien Resurrection was not included, making this the first franchise box set it had not appeared in since its release).
- Alien Anthology (Blu-ray, 2010), an exclusive six-disc release featuring two versions of each film (theatrical, and the 2003 cuts from the Alien Quadrilogy set – except for changes to the 2003 Alien 03 “Workprint” version which included having some original voice actors come back to re-record poorly captured dialogue in newly inserted extended scenes, and fixed production errors on the “special edition” of Aliens]) and almost all special features and supplements from the previous releases (including an archive of the special edition Laserdisc box sets with all their image galleries and other unique content). As with the Quadrilogy DVD, the two versions of each film were housed on a single disc, while the storage capacity of Blu-ray means the previous five discs of special features were included on the remaining two discs in the set, which held approximately 60 hours of bonus video content and over 12,000 still images. Most subsequent releases of the films on the Blu-ray medium are repackaged versions of the Blu-ray disks contained in this box set. A discount box set without the two additional discs of bonus features was also released.
- Alien/Aliens Dual Pack (DVD), including the theatrical cuts of both Alien and Aliens. A separate dual pack was released containing the theatrical and extended versions of Alien vs. Predator and the unrated Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.
- Prometheus to Alien: The Evolution (Blu-ray, 2012), containing all of the Alien films, Prometheus, and a bonus material disk for Prometheus.
- All of the Alien films, including Prometheus, have been released in special Steelbook Blu-ray editions, although these do not come in a boxed set. While the Alien Steelbooks themselves contain the Blu-ray disks on their own, the Prometheus Steelbook contains both Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D versions of the film, as well as a bonus feature Blu-ray disk with seven hours of content. With the exception of Prometheus, the films had been previously released as DVD Definitive editions, which featured Steelbook casing and contained both DVD versions of the films and a bonus feature disk.
- Alien: The 35th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray, 2014), released to mark the 35th anniversary of the release of the film, containing both a Blu-ray and a Digital HD copy, a reprint of Alien: The Illustrated Story and a series of collectable art cards containing artwork by H. R. Giger related to the film. The disk itself is the same as the respective disk on the 2010 Anthology Blu-ray release, and contains MOTHER mode, despite the lack of the required bonus disk. A reprint of the novel by Alan Dean Foster was also released, along with reprints of all other novels, with the Alien Resurrection novel available as of May 2015.
- The Alien Universe box set was released exclusively through Wal-Mart on 18 April 2017, and included four limited edition poster cards designed by the Mondo art company.
There exists a great variety of spin-offs in other media, including a large number of crossovers with the Predator franchise.
Alien print media has been published since shortly before the release of the original eponymous film, in 1979. The full library of these literary works include novelisations of the films, original content that expand upon the fictional universe, comics and companion books for both the cataloguing of in-universe elements and supplemental works concerning the development of the franchise. These include works by special effects company Amalgamated Dynamics Incorporated (ADI), which assisted with the effects in Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection.
Several novelisations of each of the six films and some comic books as well as original canonical novels based on the franchise have been released. The original novels include Alien: Out of the Shadows, Alien: Sea of Sorrows, Alien: River of Pain, marketed as the “Canonical Alien Trilogy” and the short story collection Aliens: Bug Hunt. Out of the Shadows and River of Pain were adapted into audio dramas in 2016 and 2017 respectively released on the Alien Day of the respective year. Alan Dean Foster published Alien: Covenant – Origins, a novel set between the events of Prometheus and Alien: Covenant.
In addition to Alien: The Illustrated Story, a graphic novel adaptation of the original film, there have been numerous limited series set in the Alien universe, as well as non-canonical crossover appearances of the Alien. In addition to Alien vs. Predator comics featuring the Alien and Predator battling, Dark Horse Comics published Fire and Stone between 2014 and 2017, crossing over the continuities of the Alien prequel series with the Alien vs. Predator franchise.
Dark Horse Comics also published a number of other miniseries crossovers, featuring the Alien species as an enemy pitted against prolific characters from other continuities. In 1995, the miniseries Superman/Aliens featured Aliens fighting against Superman, while his powers are diminished. Between 1997 and 2002, a two-part miniseries called Batman/Aliens was published, depicting Batman fighting against a horde of Aliens in a jungle bordering Mexico and Guatemala. In 1998, WildStorm, (now a part of Image Comics), and Dark Horse Comics published an intercompany crossover event called WildC.A.T.s/Aliens, featuring the Wildcats battling the Aliens. Green Lantern Versus Aliens, an intercompany crossover event between Dark Horse and DC Comics, features a plot beyond either continuity, where the Aliens residing on the Green Lantern planet Mogo get out of control and must be exterminated. In 2003, Dark Horse published Judge Dredd vs. Aliens, depicting an Alien invasion in Mega-City One, necessitating for Judge Dredd to intervene, to destroy the infestation.
In July 2020, Marvel Entertainment announced that it had acquired the rights to the Alien franchise, in addition to the rights to the Predator and Alien vs. Predator franchises. Marvel is scheduled to begin releasing franchise stories in 2021.
Since the launch of the Alien franchise, there have been numerous video games released over the years, spanning a variety of genres. In addition to appearances in crossover video games, including those from the Alien vs. Predator franchise and Mortal Kombat X, the four films from the original series were adapted into video games, typically multiple times. The first release was Alien (1982) for the Atari 2600, inspired heavily by Pac-Man. A second adaptation of the first film was released in 1984. The sequel, Aliens was adapted into four different video games: two different 1986 games titled Aliens: The Computer Game, a collection of minigames by Activision and a first-person shooter by Software Studios; as well as two different games titled Aliens, a 1987 MSX platformer by Square and a 1990 arcade shoot ’em up by Konami. Acclaim Entertainment released three different games based on Alien 3; two different run and gun platformers – one for consoles in 1992, another for the SNES a year later – and a Game Boy adventure game in 1993. Sega also released a light gun arcade game Alien 3: The Gun in 1993. Acclaim’s first-person shooter Alien Trilogy was released in 1996 and their adaptation of Alien Resurrection was released in 2000 as a PlayStation first-person shooter.
Other Alien games include Mindscape’s adventure game Aliens: A Comic Book Adventure (1995), the first-person shooter Aliens Online (1998), the Game Boy Color action game Aliens: Thanatos Encounter (2001), the mobile phone game Aliens: Unleashed (2003), and the arcade game Aliens: Extermination (2006). In 2014, Play Mechanix and Raw Thrills released Aliens: Armageddon, a rail gun first person shooter that hit arcades soon after. Between 2016 and 2017, Zen Studios released downloadable content packs in a product line called “Alien vs. Pinball”, featuring three virtual pinball tables based around the Alien and Alien vs. Predator franchises for Zen Pinball 2, Pinball FX 2 and Pinball FX 3.
In 2006, Sega made a deal with Fox Licensing to release two Alien video games for sixth generation consoles. The first was Aliens: Colonial Marines, a first-person shooter by Gearbox Software that was released in 2013 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows. The game is set between Aliens and Alien 03, following a group of marines sent to investigate the Sulaco who wound up crash-landing on LV-426. The second was Alien: Isolation, a survival-horror game by Creative Assembly that follows Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, who is stranded aboard an Alien-infested space station. The game experienced a long development cycle, with it finally being released in late 2014 for seventh generation consoles. During the prolonged development of Alien: Isolation, Sega also released a Nintendo DS game Aliens Infestation in 2011. Furthermore, a spin-off featuring Amanda Ripley called Alien: Blackout was released for mobile devices in 2019.
Despite Alien being widely considered a mature and non child-appropriate series, merchandise – including action figures, board games and role-playing games – has been manufactured and marketed to a wide range of age groups. Prior to the release of the first film, 20th Century Fox executives signed a deal with Kenner Products, for the production of a board game called Alien Game, as well as action figures, marketed for being family-friendly. Following the release of the film and the outcry from parents about its nature of being a graphic and mature horror film, the product lines were abruptly cancelled. The merchandising efforts for the franchise remained largely stagnant until the release of the more action-based sequel, Aliens, seven years later. From thereon out, merchandise has been produced on a rolling, ongoing basis.
From the franchise’s inception until Kenner’s closure in 2000, the company was a major manufacturer of Alien action figures. From 1992 to 1995, Kenner produced a line of action figures dubbed Aliens, initially intended to promote a cancelled animated series called Operation: Aliens. In 1996, Galoob released the Micro Machines Alien line of miniature toys, but ceased production the following year, due in large to the violent and graphic nature of its packaging art. Following the founding of Hong Kong collectible toy company Hot Toys, one of the first lines the company began producing was Alien. In 2014, Funko released a line of action figures heavily inspired by the original 1979 Kenner line called ReAction. In the 2010’s, the National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) took a prominent role in the manufacturing of Alien action figures, with the majority being largely inspired by the Kenner line of action figures, as well as new additions depicting the prequel films and crossover continuities, such as Alien vs. Predator and Superman/Aliens.
Following Kenner’s ill-fated first foray into the board game market with Alien Game, merchandising efforts in the medium were stagnant, until Leading Edge Games released the cooperative game Aliens in 1989. Leading Edge Games released Aliens Adventure Game in 1991, to mixed reviews and commentary that states it functions closer to a board game than a traditional tabletop RPG. In 1993, British toy company Peter Pan Playthings Ltd released a board game called Operation: Aliens – Combat Game, in which up to four players play as Colonial Marines and compete to reach the centre of the board and self-destruct the Alien-infested facility. In December 2019, Swedish publisher Free League Publishing released a tabletop role-playing game called Alien: The Role-Playing Game, featuring two game modes. An upcoming licensed board game titled Alien: USCSS Nostromo is set for release in 2020. However, in 2018, a French board game designer named François Bachelart accused the game’s publisher, Wonder Dice, of theft of a game concept he pitched to them years prior. Wonder Dice published a press release, in which they threatened to sue anyone who would question their legal practices.
- Arthur Dallas … Tom Skerritt (Alien).
- Ellen Ripley … Sigourney Weaver, Nicole Fellows (Alien Resurrection, younger character), and Andrea Decker (Alien Isolation, voice role).
- Joan Lambert … Veronica Cartwright (Alien).
- Samuel Brett … Harry Dean Stanton (Alien).
- Gilbert Kane … John Hurt (Alien).
- Ash … Ian Holm (Alien).
- Dennis Parker … Yaphet Kotto (Alien).
- Aliens … Bojali Badejo (Alien), Carl Troop (Aliens), Tomm Woodruff Jr. (Alien 03 and Alien Resurrection), Andrew Crawford (Alien Covenant), and Goran D. Kleut (Alien: Covenant).
- MU/TH/UR 6000 “Mother/Father” … Helen Horton (Alien), Steven Gilborn (Alien Resurrection), and Lorelei King (Alien Covenant).
- Jones … Various animal performers (Alien and Aliens).
- Engineers … Ian Whyte, John Lebar, and Daniel James (all Alien Covenant).
- Bishop (Android) and Michael Bishop Weyland (Human) … Lance Henriksen (Aliens and Alien 03).
- Rebecca “Newt” Jorden … Carrie Henn (Aliens) and Danielle Edmond (Aline 03).
- Dwayne Hicks … Michael Biehn (Aliens).
- Amanda Ripley … Elizabeth Inglis (Aliens, appearance in onscreen photographs and in deleted scenes only), Andrea Deck (Alien: Isolation, voice role), and Kezia Burrows (Alien: Isolation, motion-capture role).
- Elizabeth M. Shaw … Noomi Rapace (Prometheus and Alien Covenant), Lucy Hutchinson (Prometheus, younger character).
- Peter Weyland … Guy Pearce (Prometheus).
- Charlie Holloway … Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus).
- Alien was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning for Best Visual Effects.
- Aliens received seven nominations, including a Best Actress nomination for Sigourney Weaver, and won for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Effects.
- Alien 03 was nominated for Best Visual Effects. Prometheus was also nominated for Best Visual Effects.
- Alien was also inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for historical preservation as a film which is “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
- The American Film Institute ranked Alien as the sixth most thrilling American movie and seventh-best film in the science fiction genre, and in the AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Heroes and Villains list, Ripley was ranked eighth among the heroes, and the Alien was fourteenth among the villains.
- IGN listed Alien as the thirteenth best film franchise of all time in 2006.
The Alien vs. Predator franchise combines the continuities of the Alien franchise with the Predator franchise and consists of two films as well as various series of comics, books, and video games.
Inspired by the Dark Horse Comics series, the filmmakers of Predator 02 (1990) incorporated an easter egg in which an Alien skull was seen in a Predator trophy case. Expansions upon this shared universe between the Alien and Predator franchises followed through comics and video games, leading up to the launch of a film franchise with the release of Alien vs. Predator in 2004, followed by Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem in 2007. The franchise has spawned various comics, novels, video games, and other merchandise based upon or inspired by the films. A third film has been variously rumoured since the production of Requiem. In mid-2018, Shane Black, the director of The Predator, expressed his belief that a third Alien vs. Predator could still happen, indicating the studio’s interest in both franchises.
- Prequel Series:
- Prometheus (2012).
- Alien: Covenant (2017).
- Original Series:
- Alien (1979).
- Aliens (1986).
- Alien 03 (1992).
- Alien Resurrection (1997).
- Web Series:
- Memory: The Origins of Alien (2019).
Production & Filming Details
- Creator(s): Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett.
- Release Date: 1979 to 2019.
- Rating: R, 15, and 18.
- Country: UK and US.
- Language: English.