The New Alien Movie Will Be Set Between The First Two Films In The Franchise

The future of the "Alien" franchise is beginning to come into focus. Fede Alvarez ("Evil Dead," "Don't Breathe") is directing a new movie in the long-running sci-fi series that is due to hit theaters next year. It's going to be the first one under Disney's reign following the studio's acquisition of Fox back in 2019. Now, we know when the movie will take place in the overall timeline and it's going to be both a prequel and a sequel. Kind of.

Cailee Spaeny ("Pacific Rim Uprising," "Priscilla") is set to lead the cast of the latest "Alien" film, which is rumored to be titled "Alien: Romulus," and recently spoke with Variety about it. Naturally, she couldn't reveal much by way of specifics, although the actor did explain that the film will take place between Ridley Scott's original "Alien" and James Cameron's follow-up "Aliens." Here's what she had to say about it:

"It's supposed to slot in between the first movie and the second movie. They brought the same team from 'Aliens,' the James Cameron film. The same people who built those xenomorphs actually came on and built ours. So getting to see the original design with the original people who have been working on these films for 45-plus years and has been so much of their life has been really incredible."

Not only do we get a timeline confirmation here, but it sounds like Alvarez is bringing things full circle by having members of Cameron's team back in the mix. And given that "Aliens" is arguably one of the best-looking sci-fi films ever made (one that is finally coming to 4K, by the way), this is good news. But the timeline reveal certainly warrants some discussion.

Filling in the franchise gaps

Setting aside the specifics of the plot for the film, it sounds very much like this is going to seek to fill in some gaps. 1979's "Alien" takes place in the year 2122 and focuses on the doomed crew of the Nostromo, with only Sigourney Weaver's Ripley making it out alive following their encounter with the Xenomorph. 1986's "Aliens" picks many 57 years later in 2179, with Ripley being found floating through space after being in cryostasis for decades. With Spaeney's new comments, we now know that the upcoming film will take place somewhere in that nearly six-decade gap.

Undoubtedly, there is much to explore in that period. Let's not forget that the Weyland-Yutani Corporation was exploring the galaxy long before and, presumably, long after Ripley's existence. It's also been quite some time since we've been anywhere near this part of the franchise timeline. Both "Prometheus" and "Alien: Covenant" were prequels that were leading up to the events of "Alien." Scott also had a third prequel planned that ultimately never got made. Once Disney purchased Fox, it decided to take the series in a different direction altogether.

Speaking of taking things in a new direction, Noah Hawley ("Fargo") is also currently working on an "Alien" TV show for FX that was originally announced way back in 2020. Now that the writers and actors strikes are over, work on the show is set to continue soon, with the series expected to debut in 2025. The show will largely be set on Earth, marking a major change of pace, and will also be taking place before the events of the original "Alien." So, similar to "Prometheus," it will firmly be venturing into prequel territory.

The new "Alien" movie is set to hit theaters on August 16, 2024.