It seems like forever ago since we learned that a remake was in the works for Alien Nation, the 80s/90s sci-fi franchise that began with a feature film before branching off into a TV series and several television films. Now, the director of the upcoming reboot film — Jeff Nichols — is finally giving an update on the status of the new Alien Nation, and it sounds gooood.
In an interview with Slash Film, Nichols (Midnight Special) referred to his remake as “epic,” while also revealing that he’s nearly finished with script after two years of working on it. Here’s what he had to say:
So I’ve been working on Alien Nation like for two years, the screenplay. And I’m still … I’m almost done with it. I’m hoping this draft that I’m working on now will be my last. The studio seems to really love it, and we’re working on conception design of the aliens and everything else, and it happens to be a studio that’s being bought by Disney right now. I’m working with Fox on it, so it feels a little bit like you’re one of those monks doing those giant murals in sand. It might just blow away, which would be a real shame, but everybody at Fox has been so good to me about it. And they’re so positive about it, obviously I’m trying to stay in the positive zone, and hopefully knock out this last draft.
It’s epic. I mean, it’s the biggest canvas I’ve ever painted on, but it 100 percent feels like a Jeff Nichols film, which I’m sure there are gonna be some Alien Nation fans out there that are like, “What the f—k?” But my hope is if they … If people come to it just ready for a new story, that they’ll like it. And I put my heart and soul into it. To be the project that’s supposed to be me being a sell out, it is like the least … I’m not saying that to save face or be cool. I put so much of myself into it, it takes place in Arkansas. There’s so much of me in it.
When you’re making something that big, there’s just so many things that are out of your control. In a weird way, all you can control and concentrate on is the creative aspect. The winds will blow you where they blow you, but as long as you’re telling to where you want to tell, and whenever that stops, then you gotta raise your hand and go, “Guys, this isn’t gonna work for me anymore.” But so far, that’s not been the case.
There’s a decent amount to unpack in Nichols’ lengthy quote. First, and most worryingly, it sounds like there’s a pretty good chance this film doesn’t get made. It’s in development at Fox, but hasn’t officially been greenlit, and with Fox being purchased by Disney, all of that studio’s future films are currently considered in limbo. That’s the bad news. The good news is it sounds like Nichols really has a strong vision for what this film could be. The original film was a fun buddy cop movie about a human police officer with his alien partner in L.A. set several years after aliens settled into our society. With Nichols placing the setting for his film in Arkansas, and also noting that some diehard Alien Nation fans may be put off by it, it seems likely the writer/director could be working on a more serious take on the concept that delves far deeper into the racial issues the original toyed with. And given what Nichols created with Midnight Special and its tiny budget, it’s certainly tantalizing to think what he could do with a concept this rich — and a budget this big — so here’s hoping Disney sees the potential for dollar signs and lets Alien Nation survive the coming Fox purge.