In its 40 years, the Alien franchise has become too unruly to define. Its seven sprawling installments, including two movies that crossed with the Predator franchise and a quasi-prequel that was only loosely tied to the original, have strayed far from where the franchise started—a horror film set in outer space.
The next movie, Alien: Covenant, due out in US theaters today, purports to return the franchise to its roots. Director Ridley Scott said the film will “go back into the back door of the very first Alien” movie. “I wanted to really scare the shit out of people,” he told The Guardian.
Indeed, all the movie marketing has aimed to scare as much as intrigue. Starting with the very first movie poster from last November, the sequel—which is actually another prequel to the original Alien but a sequel to the last prequel, Prometheus— has channeled the dark, eerie imagery of the 1979 original. It depicted the new breed of alien, a Neomorph, protruding from the shadows in the ominous fashion of H.R. Giger, the original Swiss designer of the Alien world.
The taglines, “run,” “hide,” and “scream,” resemble that of the inaugural film: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”
The return to the gut-busting terror that made the original Alien so enthralling was as much a creative choice by Scott as a marketing maneuver. ‘There was a very, very clear direction on what this film was going to be and what it was going to answer,” Alison Temple, managing partner of the agency 3AM, which worked with the studio, production, and various brand partners on the marketing campaign for Alien: Covenant, tells Quartz. “Ridley talks about hearing the people and they wanted the elements that they love so much from the original.”
That has been the biggest message from the marketing—this is a true Alien film and it will have scary aliens in it.