Alien: Covenant: release date moved forward, first poster released, and everything you need to know

Fast Facts:

  • Alien: Covenant release date: May 19, 2017
  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Cast: Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Amy Seimetz, Callie Hernandez and Danny McBride
  • Writers: Michael Green, John Logan, Jack Paglen

Update: 24 November, 2016

Alien Covenant's release date has been moved forward. Again! Now the date stands at May 19, 2017. That's three months sooner than the last date we had (August), and a whopping seven months ahead of the movie's original December 2017 date. Nice. There's also a new poster, with a Xeno peering out of the darkness and a simple tagline... Run. 

Alien: Covenant is actually a Prometheus sequel

Few movies reach the legendary status of Alien, Ridley Scott’s tale of space truckers dealing with an otherworldly stowaway. Even Scott’s own Prometheus - a prequel that isn’t quite cut from the same cloth as the masterpiece that spawned it - fell short. However, its worldwide gross of $404 million was more than enough to warrant a sequel, which we now know to be called Alien: Covenant.

Originally slated to hit theaters in December of 2017, Covenant’s release date was recently moved up to May 19 of next year. That’s a pretty long way off, so we don’t know a huge amount about this next entry in the long-running franchise, but we’ve put together everything we’ve gleaned so far.

Alien: Covenant director Ridley Scott is back in the driver’s seat

Ridley Scott, the father of the Alien franchise, will be once again taking on directorial duties. If you could’ve sworn Neill Blomkamp of District 9 fame was on lens duty for the next Alien film, you’re right - or were, before Scott changed Covenant’s direction. Blomkamp was lined up to direct Alien, with Scott producing, but those plans got put on hold when Scott’s revised plans started to revisit the original lore. “Alien is kinda holding/pending Prometheus 2,” tweeted Blomkamp on October 29, 2015, going on to say that he’ll be “working on other things.”

Originally, ‘Prometheus 2’ was going to be more of a direct continuation of the events of its predecessor, heading further away from the lore of the 1979 Alien. Blomkamp’s film would’ve retconned the franchise, “acting like Alien 3 and 4 never existed,” as Michael Biehn put it to Icons of Fright, and allowed for a passing of the torch from Ripley to a Newt in her late 20s. Scott insists the movie is still moving forward, telling the Empire Online Podcast, “It’s designed to go next after ‘Alien: Paradise Lost’ [the original title for Covenant]. His version is more associated with Ripley. It’s coming from a completely different angle. It’s kind of more of a sequel… after, after after.”

Alien: Covenant plot should answer some questions from Prometheus

Though Prometheus has Alien in its DNA (sorry), it is something entirely separate from the much-beloved franchise... something that didn’t entirely sit well with audiences. Prometheus 2 was originally going to continue going off in an entirely different direction from the original films, but director Ridley Scott rethought that decision, opting instead to get his creation back on course by linking Prometheus more directly to the 1979 Alien film. To that end, Alien: Covenant will be the second part of a trilogy that acts as a prequel to the events on the Nostromo.

Scott explained how Covenant will continue the journey from Prometheus to Alien: “They’re going to go to the planet where the engineers came from, and come across the evolving creature that they had made. Why did they make it? Why would they make such a terrifying beast? It felt bio-mechanoid, it felt like a weapon. And so the movie will explain that, and reintroduce the alien back into it.”

Alien: Covenant "steals from everything"

On the AvPGalaxy podcast, Alien: Covenant's concept artist Wayne Haag discussed how director Ridley Scott draws inspiration from a variety of sources, including graphic novels Moebius and The Forever War, and the work of artist Arnold Bocklin. Scott doesn't copy elements directly, but rather will lift the "look and feel" from one source, the composition from another, and even ideas for lighting. 

"You don't know why he's referencing something until he says 'I want this there,'" explains Haag of Scott's process, "and you say, ahhh, it's not about the object, it's about the lighting hitting the object, or it's about the composition of the frame. He draws on everything." Scott has a clear vision, says Haag, which allows him to combine things that don't immediately seem to go together to great effect. 

Alien: Covenant sees the return of the xenomorphs

The engineers of Prometheus were definitely creepy, but they lacked that je ne sais quois (that’s French for ‘acid for blood’) of the series’ iconic enemies. It just doesn’t feel like a proper Alien movie unless there’s a gleaming, slinky, two-mouthed nasty lurking in the air duct, and thankfully Ridley Scott has seen that light.

Scott was apparently concerned that the xenos might have overstayed their welcome, (as if they could), but promises a full roster of gleaming death-dealers for Covenant:  “We’ll have them all: egg, face-hugger, chest-burster, then the big boy.”

These many different xenos will be coming to Covenant largely through practical effects. As Danny McBride, who plays the Covenant's pilot explained to Rolling Stone, "when you're running from an alien it's really a dude in an alien suit coming after you!"

Alien: Covenant cast includes Michael Fassbender playing two different droids

Michael Fassbender’s android character David - just a well-spoken head in a bag, last we saw him - returns in Covenant, apparently having picked up a body somewhere along the way. The movie’s official description says the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers “what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world - whose sole inhabitant is the ‘synthetic’ David.”

Fassbender will also be playing  a second synthetic, named Walter, who serves aboard the USCSS Covenant. "I am allowed to say I am playing two robots - Walter and David," Fassbender told the Irish Times newspaper (via @rorysbooks). 

Also in the cast are Jussie Smollett (Empire), Amy Seimetz (The Killing), Carmen Ejogo (Selma), Callie Hernandez (Machete Kills), Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs), Demian Bichir (The Hateful Eight) and Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down). It seems seems fair to say that most, if not all, of these folks will make up the crew of the Covenant; it also seems fair to say that most, if not all of them will die horribly.

Alien: Covenant is going to be "much scarier" than Prometheus

The scariest part of Prometheus was a scientist thinking it was smart to pet an alien snake (where did you go to school, man?), but according to Michael Fassbender, Covenant will be "much scarier." He told Collider "It’s kind of got more of the sort of thriller, imminent disaster feel that Alien had, so it’s kind of a beautiful meeting of both of those films."  

Danny McBride put it a little more directly: "Ridley's going to scare the shit out of you." If nothing else, it'll probably be quite gory, with director Ridley Scott saying he's aiming for a "pretty hard R" rating. 

Alien: Covenant has no trailer yet, but does have creepy countdown teaser

A few set photos and social shares have trickled out from filming, but only one video has emerged from the team. It’s a countdown, posted to the official Alien Facebook Page, with one year to go until the film’s release. That’s Katherine Waterston dozing in the hypersleep chamber. Talk about a teaser!

Related Alien: Covenant news

Alien: Covenant video counts down to release in a creepy hypersleep chamber

Alien: Covenant is "much scarier" than Prometheus says Michael Fassbender, new image lands

Alien: Covenant creature design revealed, Danny McBride confirms role as the ship's pilot

Alien: Covenant wraps filming, reveals new image of Katherine Waterston looking very Ripley-esque

Alien: Covenant has "great sets and aliens coming out of people" says Michael Fassbender

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