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).
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.
The original treatment for this movie, as revealed by 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. Scott pursued this idea because he felt that the "Alien" franchise lost its touch and was overdone and overexposed, and as such he wanted to try a different approach. However, due to the divided fan reactions to "Prometheus", he abandoned this direction and took a different approach instead, specifically to reintroduce the "Alien" mythos much sooner.
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 music from Jerry Goldsmith's score for Alien (1979) was used extensively in the first act of this movie.
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.
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 exact origins and nature of the Planet 4 variant Xenomorph have been widely debated amongst fans with a lot of speculation, some believing David is responsible for the Xenomorph XX121 species while others believe he merely recreated something that the Engineer's created. The reason of this debate is due to evidence of the existence of a Xenomorph-like species, depicted in the mural shown inside the Engineer ship explored by the Prometheus crew in Prometheus (2012). It is still unclear if David saw the mural, therefore creating a debate between some fans on whether this had any influence in David's experiments or not. In the novelization and early drafts of the script, the Xenomorph XX121 was created by the Engineers and David's Xenomorph variant was created in an attempt to replicate them. The final film lacks this revelation, comments by Ridley Scott indicate that the decision was made late In development to have David be the sole creator.
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.
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 (sculpture of a human figure with the skin removed to display the musculature),while its movements were based on those of a praying mantis and a baboon.
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.
Unlike David, Walter speaks with an American accent. While this was no doubt done in the film to help distinguish the two characters for the audience, in-universe it could possibly be explained by the two synthetics different origins-David was a unique model created personally by Peter Weyland (who was British) for his personal use/as a son and successor, whereas Walter is a mass-produced commercial model.
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-- commercial transport operators in Alien (1979), the military in Aliens (1986), prisoners in Alien 3 (1992), smugglers in Alien Resurrection (1997), archaeologists in AVP: 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.
Upon emergence, the Neomorph greatly resembles a Runner chestburster, having limbs and moving quadrupedally. It becomes more humanoid and bipedal upon maturity.
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).
Alien Covenant takes place on December 5th, 2104, 18 years prior to Alien, which takes place in 2122.
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.
The Neomorph's physiology and body structure was inspired by the actual bodily autonomy of the Goblin Shark.
The design of the Neomorph Egg Sack resembles a smaller version of H.R. Gigers Egg Silo, a design originally intended to be used in the film Alien (1979).
In the novelization of the film, the Planet 4 variant Xenomorph is described as possessing a biomechanical exoskeleton, but in the film itself the Xenomorph lacks such biomechanical features, stated by Ridley Scott to have been a deliberate design decision.
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).
The Planet 4 variant Xenomorph appears to have a similar life cycle speed to those in Alien vs. Predator (2004) it also appears that the facehugger stage is capable of implanting a host within seconds of attachment, both have caused criticism amongst fans.
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.
Rebecca Ferguson was considered for the role of Daniels who ultimately turned down the role to do the movie Life (2017) instead, which was another space alien horror movie released in the same year.
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.
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.
One of the patches that the crew wears has two angels crouched down on a slab that mimic depictions of the angels that sit on the lid of the lost Ark of the Covenant.
Some fans have nicknamed the new Xenomorph variant that appears in the film as a "Protomorph", believing that it is the precursor or progenitor to the original classic Xenomorph that would later chronologically appear in Alien (1979).
The bloodbuster that comes out of Ledwards back and Hallet's mouth we're given the name by fan's "backbuster" and "mouthburster".
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. Billy 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).
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.
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.
MICHAEL FASSBENDER 's listening to his echo in the cave is using the same lilt used by Peter O' Toole in Lawrence of Arabia when Lawrence is riding his camel in Wadi Rum.
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.
At about 1:47 David is looking into the screen at the Xenomorph when it attempts to attack him with its inner jaw. This is very much like the scene in Resurrection when a creature tries to attack Dr. Gediman through the glass.