Disney’s massive purchase of 20th Century Fox, which still has to be approved by the government, will see a number of major franchises transfer to the house that Walt built. A number of these franchises make perfect sense. For instance, the X-Men and Fantastic Four will finally join the rest of their Marvel brethren in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Box office behemoth Avatar will come in house, which now makes Disney look like prognosticating geniuses for building that expensive Pandora extension at Walt Disney World last year. Plus Planet of the Apes, the OG sci-fi movie franchise, should fit in nicely alongside PG-13 adventures like Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean. But one Fox franchise that doesn’t seem to fit with Disney’s family friendly image is Alien.
Alien is one of the most iconic sci-fi franchises ever, but as R-rated sci-fi horror fare, it’s not clear if Disney will even allow the franchise to continue. One person who is skeptical about the franchise’s new owners is series originator Ridley Scott, who returned last year to helm Alien: Covenant, which to be fair was a box office disappointment and had already left the franchise’s future up in the air. “It looks to me that the Fox deal is certainly going to go ahead with Disney, and I’ve been with Fox for a number years now,” the director recently told Digital Spy. “I’m hoping I’ll still probably be there so whether or not they go ahead with such a dark subject, being Disney, as Aliens remains to be seen … I think they should because I think, when people have a hard and fast franchise which has ongoing interest, it’s crazy not to do something with it.”
Scott also floated the idea of Disney, who does not distribute R-rated films under their own banner, could keep Alien as an R-rated franchise and continue to released their movies under the Fox banner. “They draw the line at anything that crosses PG-13,” he said. “[If] they find that they’re so successful with that that they want to cross the line and do something a little darker, and if they do that, do they want to do that under Disney or do they want to do that under the Fox banner? I think there’s a business plan afoot definitely.”
While Disney and Alien may seem like odd bedfellows, the two actually share a strange bit of history. From 1994 until 2003, Walt Disney World had an attraction called ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. The ride featured a frightening alien that escapes from its enclosure, and it was widely considered uniquely terrifying for a Disney ride — even featuring a warning to keep out kids under 12 — which is probably why it lasted less than a decade. The reason why it was so scary is because, initially, the attraction was going to be themed on the Alien movies and called “Nostromo,” after the ship from the first film. Disney even went so far as to secure licensing from Fox for the ride, but the plans were ultimately changed during development due to the Alien movies being rated R, with senior imagineers declaring that Walt Disney himself would never have approved of the ride. But with the licensing already required, Disney had to do something with Alien, so they stuck a xenomorph in the Great Movie Ride, which was apparently OK since it was just one brief moment and the entire ride wasn’t based on an R-rated film.
But who knows, now that Disney owns Alien and might make a PG-13 movie at some point in the future, Disney theme parks could finally get a proper (and terrifying) Alien ride. Take that, kids under 12.