Writer Damon Lindelof, he of Lost co-creator fame, shed some light on the prequel-status of his current project, former Alien prequel Prometheus. Originally a direct prequel to Alien, to be helmed by that film's returning director Ridley Scott, Prometheus became an original movie during its development, or mostly original. Sort of. Here's what Lindelof had to say:
"Or is it? I think should be the tag line as opposed to 'In space nobody can hear you scream', it should be 'Prometheus: ...or is it?'" (laughs)
"It started as an Alien prequel as that's what everybody wanted it to be. Obviously Ridley Scott hasn't made a science fiction movie in 25 years since Blade Runner, so the idea that he's returning to this genre is huge.
But there's a real issue which is what is the state of the Alien franchise at this point in our lives? Now it's Alien versus Predator and all these things and it's been completely and totally diluted."
"I've always felt really good prequels should be original movies. And the sequel to those prequels should not be the movie that already exists. Because, all due respect to anybody who makes a prequel, why would you ruin the greatest twist in the history of movie cinema? 'Luke I am your father'... By showing me three movies (Star Wars prequels) that basically spoil that surprise. You could do movies that take place before Star Wars, but I don't need to see the story of the Skywalker clan. Show me something else that I can't guess the possible outcome of. There's no suspense and inevitability."
"So a true prequel should essentially precede the incidents of the original film, but be about something entirely different, feature different characters, have an entirely different theme although it takes place in that same world. That was my fundamental feeling about what this movie wanted to be."
"And truth be told, it wasn't script doctoring in the strictest sense because the draft that existed before I came on was written by this guy named Jon Spaihts, who is very good! And there are a lot of things in Prometheus that were hatched by Jon Spaihts and that were written by Jon Spaihts. And I feel like somewhere in the media reconstruction of this story, the tale is I come in and pitch an entirely new movie and it's so original that everything else gets thrown out and THAT's what we're doing. In my brain that's not exactly what happened."
"But I also do feel that this is the movie that I would want to see as a fanboy take place in that Alien universe that precedes the events of the original Alien, but is not necessarily burdened by tropes of that franchise with facehuggers and chestbursters and all that stuff that I love. But we've seen it before, so can I do something different this time.
And that's the movie that Ridley wanted to make."
It's an interesting approach, essentially a spin-off set chronologically before the original film, not obligated to lead up to and directly tie in with established events. Drawing a comparison with the Star Wars prequels is also interesting. Whilst the idea that you wouldn't want to follow Anakin Skywalker for fear of ruining the twist in Empire seems a bit weird (you could just watch the movies in release order if that troubles you) the fact that there really wasn't an imperative to follow the Skywalkers, and that they could have easily been set in the same universe without doing so does sound cool - it's what Star Wars fans had essentially been enjoying in some parts of the Expanded Universe anyway. But what does this mean when applied to the Alien universe? What world-building elements will be carried over from that franchise into Prometheus?First Showing