On November 27, 2015, director Ridley Scott announced that this film would be the second (following Prometheus (2012)) in a new Alien trilogy that will take place closer to, and lead up to, the original film. He has since suggested that there may even be a fourth prequel film.
This movie contains a scene where a toy bird drinking water (named, aptly, a "drinky-bird") is visible. In the opening scene of Alien (1979), there is such a toy bird shown on board the Nostromo's bridge.
At one point Daniels (Katherine Waterston) says, "I got you, you son of a bitch." Ellen Ripley uses these words at the end of Alien (1979).
The original treatment for this movie, as revealed by director Ridley Scott in 2012, when the film was still in development, was to be a more faithful sequel to Prometheus (2012). Titled "Paradise Lost," it would have drifted even further from the "Alien" mythology, and focused almost exclusively on the backstory of the engineers, the origins of humanity, and how the engineers created humans and xenomorphs. The prequels would then conclude with a film that ties itself in to the original "Alien" movies. Ridley Scott pursued this idea because he felt that the "Alien" franchise lost its touch and was overdone and overexposed, and as such, wanted to try a different approach. However, due to the divided fan reactions of Prometheus (2012), Scott abandoned this direction and took a different approach instead, specifically to reintroduce the "Alien" mythos much sooner.
This was the first "Alien" film to be released after the death of H.R. Giger. Giger inadvertently designed the original "Alien" looks and environments in his "Necronomicon" book, which led to Ridley Scott hiring him as Art Director for the film (and franchise). Giger essentially gave birth to the entire "Alien" look that we all know.
When David is discussing the alien with the captain, he says it is "the perfect organism," just like Ash's head said in Alien (1979).
For the first time since Alien 3 (1992), an alien's point of view is shown. However, in this film we see the alien's visual spectrum.
According to Ridley Scott, principal photography for this movie took place in just 74 days for $111 million. It was finished on budget and on time.
The new planet, which is assumed to be the home of the engineers, is being referred to as a paradise, and could be the home of the "gods" who supposedly created humanity.
The terrace surrounded by cypress trees, where David looks upon the Engineer's city, was inspired by the series of paintings depicting the "Isle of the Dead" by 19th-century artist Arnold Böcklin. This was also a nod to "Alien" creator H.R. Giger, who had crafted his interpretation of the same paintings in his trademark bio-mechanical style, as a tribute to fellow Swiss Böcklin.
The name "Alien: Paradise Lost" was used to avoid confusion that resulted from disassociation with Prometheus (2012) from the "Alien" movies. The film was later re-titled "Alien: Covenant".
Some of the scenes were filmed in Sydney, Australia, at Fox Studios. Ridley Scott gave Michael Fassbender time off in order to attend the X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) premiere, held in the same area.
A scene establishing the crew of the Covenant was released as a prologue webisode titled "The Last Supper." Though it was not included in the theatrical cut, footage from the scene is prominently featured in the theatrical trailer.
The music from Jerry Goldsmith's score for Alien (1979) was used extensively in the first act of this movie.
The hairstyle that Daniels (Katherine Waterston) sports in this film was based on the wig worn by Ezra Miller, her co-star in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016). It was Miller, during a break while filming "Beasts", who helped to film Waterston's audition video. While filming inside his trailer, she noticed the wig that he wore for his character, Credence, and asked him whether she could try putting it on, as she thought it was cool. What caught her interest in doing this film was the two assurances by Ridley Scott in his offer letter: to film the required material from the actors quickly, and in time; and engagement with the principal actors over their characters over dinner after each day of filming.
Each "Alien" film features a different type of group interacting with the Xenomorphs, which were miners in Alien (1979), the military in Aliens (1986), prisoners in Alien 3 (1992), smugglers in Alien: Resurrection (1997), archaeologists in Alien vs. Predator (2004), a combination of normal suburban humans, police force, and military in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), and research scientists in Prometheus (2012). While the main characters in this film are scientists, they are also colonists.
Several music cues and sound effects throughout the movie are identical to the music and sound from Alien (1979)
The Xenomorphs design was based on that of an ecorche, while its movements were based on those of a praying mantis and a baboon.
When Tennessee gains stable control of the lander, he says over the comms, "A walk in the park," just like Parker said after setting down the Nostromo lander during the storm in Alien (1979).
Guy Pearce's reprisal of his role as Peter Weyland in the opening prologue marked Pearce's first appearance in the franchise, playing Weyland without old-age make-up. Pearce had been cast in Prometheus (2012) at 45 years old, because an actor needed to play Peter Weyland both as an elderly man and middle-aged, but ultimately the scenes featuring Weyland as a younger man were cut, and Pearce appeared in the film only under heavy old-age make-up.
This movie marked 20 years since Alien Resurrection (1997) that the original Xenomorph was seen exclusively in an "Alien" film. It had also been ten years since the Xenomorph was seen again in a theatrical release, after Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007).
Despite the overt sexual themes and metaphors present in this franchise, this is only the second Alien film to contain any actual nudity; the first was in Alien Resurrection (1997). If one counts the poster of a nude woman briefly seen inside a Marine's locker in Aliens (1986), and the magazine cut-outs of nude women in a crew member's bunk in Alien (1979), this would be the fourth film.
A couple of flashback sequences were filmed that gave Branson (James Franco) more screen time by fleshing out the relationship between he and Daniels (Katherine Waterston) but were ultimately cut from the final film.
Walter breaks the pattern of the androids' names proceeding in alphabetical order (Ash, Bishop, Call, David). There is another pattern to their names, however. "D" is the fourth letter of the alphabet, and "W" is the fourth-to-last. The characters are named for David Giler and Walter Hill.
This is a sequel to Prometheus (2012), as well as the second installment in the "Alien" prequel series, the sixth installment overall in the "Alien" film franchise, and the third installment to be directed by Ridley Scott.
The subject of the poem "Ozymandias" is the ruins of Rameses II. Director Ridley Scott depicted the Biblical account of Rameses and the plagues of Egypt in Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014).
This film references "Ozymandias" at several occasions while Billy Crudup is present. Crudup played Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen (2009), where Ozymandias is the name of one of the main characters.
This was the second time Katherine Waterston and Carmen Ejogo had appeared in a movie together. The first time was in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016).
The date of the mission, listed at the beginning of the film, is December 5th, which is also the birthday of Walt Disney (aka Walter Elias Disney). The synthetic in this film is named Walter (after director Walter Hill).
This is the second film that Michael Fassbender and Katherine Waterston have appeared in together, the first being Steve Jobs (2015).
Katherine Waterston also appeared in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), the beginning of a prequel series to the Harry Potter films. The Harry Potter film franchise also featured John Hurt, who appeared in Alien (1979), and Timothy Spall, whose son Rafe Spall appeared in Prometheus (2012). Fantastic Beasts also featured Samantha Morton, whose father-in-law is Alien (1979) cast member Ian Holm.
This film breaks the tradition within the Alien series, of each successive android's name following the alphabet. With Ash in Alien (1979); Bishop in Aliens (1986) and Alien 3 (1992); Call in Alien Resurrection (1997) and David in Prometheus (2012). Here the android's name should begin with an "E" but instead it is called Walter.
Some fans have nicknamed the Covenant Xenomorph variant a "Protomorph", believing that it is the precursor or progenitor to the original .
Rosenthal (Tess Haubrich) may be Jewish, as she wears a Star of David necklace. The surname Rosenthal is also arguably of Jewish origin. Coincidentally, Jenette Goldstein, who played Jeanette Vasquez in Aliens (1986), is also Jewish.