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 Alien (1979) film. He later suggested that there may even be a fourth prequel film. However, the future of the franchise became uncertain after the purchase of 20th Century Fox by Disney in December 2017. The next film, tentatively titled 'Alien: Awakening', was set to enter preproduction that same month, but according to some sources, the project has been shelved indefinitely. The commercial underperformance of Alien: Covenant as well as its its lukewarm reception by critics and fans were named as reasons, although no official statements were made by Disney. Scott himself, however, maintains that the project is still alive and he fully intends to finish the trilogy.
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.
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) as a son and successor, whereas Walter is a mass-produced commercial model.
Alien Covenant takes place on December 5th, 2104, 18 years prior to Alien (1979), which takes place in 2122.
This was the first "Alien" film to be released after the death of H.R. Giger, designer of the original Xenomorph.
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.
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.
The terrace surrounded by cypress trees, where David looks upon the Engineers' 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 (1979) 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.
A couple of flashback sequences were filmed that gave Branson more screen time by fleshing out the relationship between him and Daniels, but were ultimately cut from the final film.
For the first time since Alien³ (1992), an alien's point of view is shown. However, in this film we see the alien's visual spectrum.
The Neomorph's physiology and body structure was inspired by the real-world bodily autonomy of the Goblin Shark. Its teeth are able to come forward when attacking prey to do more damage by pointing directly out allowing for a better grip. The creature's mouth when closed appears similar to an anal sphincter.
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 music from Jerry Goldsmith's score for Alien (1979) was used extensively in the first act of this movie.
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.
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.
Several music cues and sound effects throughout the movie are identical to the music and sound from Alien (1979)
Upon emergence, the Neomorph greatly resembles a Runner chestburster, having limbs and moving quadrupedally. It becomes more humanoid and bipedal upon maturity.
The Planet 4 variant Xenomorph appears to have an accelerated life cycle similar to those in AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004). It also appears that the face hugger stage is capable of implanting a host within seconds of attachment. Both have caused criticism among fans.
When Tennessee gains 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).
The extended material from the Blu-ray release contain scenes of David in his lab, known as "Advent", mixing various parts from Neomorphs (and possibly Shaw's mutated eggs), using black goo as a catalyst to create his Xenomorph eggs.
The design of the Neomorph egg sack resembles a smaller version of H.R. Giger's egg silo, designed for but not used in Alien (1979).
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 Alien³ (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.
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 filming "Beasts", who helped film Waterston's audition video. While filming inside his trailer, she noticed the wig that he wore for his character, Credence, and asked him if she could try 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 on time; and engagement with the principal actors about their characters over dinner after each day of filming.
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.
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. (Besides on the viral TED Talk released as a short Prometheus promotional film) 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 in a theatrical release, after Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007).
The Planet 4 Xenomorph was motion-captured by. 6'6¾" (2 m) Spanish actor Javier Botet who has Marfan syndrome (an inherited disorder that affects connective tissue) who is mostly known for his roles in [Rec] (2007), Mama (2013), The Revenant (2015) and The Conjuring 2 (2016).
Rebecca Ferguson was considered for the role of Daniels, but ultimately turned down the role to do the movie Life, which was another alien horror movie released in the same year.
The Planet 4 Facehugger strongly resembles a species of arthropod David dubbed the "Carapace" in his ecological documentation of Planet 4.
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.
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.
While virtually identical to Xenomorph XX121, this version possesses notable differences from its mainstream cousin. Notably, it lacks any biomechanical features and its limbs are longer, thinner and skinless, with exposed muscles and blood vessels, and gaps in its armpits. The shoulders and dorsal tubes are noticeably smaller and narrower. This Xenomorph variant also has a thinner, sleeker tail that ends with a small barb or stinger. The differences in the Drone extend to its Chestburster form as well as the Facehugger to a lesser extent. Other than these differences, the Xenomorph greatly resembles the Xenomorphs from the Derelict on LV-426. Like Xenomorph XX121, the Covenant variant possesses an inner pharyngeal jaw.
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 of Alien (1979).
The Planet 4 Xenomorph has a human skull underneath its smooth dome something the original Xenomorph from Alien (1979) also featured.
The Covenant's mission to terraform and colonize Origae-6 would be the fulfillment of mankind's survival as a Type-2 civilization and theoretically decrease the chances of the species facing extinction resembles the biblical story of Noah from The Book of Genesis. The Narrative speaks of God's promise to mankind to never send another apocalypse, which is where the subtitle Covenant may have come from.
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.
According to director Ridley Scott, the neomorph is the first generation of alien,the word Neo is a prefix from Ancient Greek, meaning "new, young".
In the novelization of the film, the Egg sacks are much smaller in appearance, resembling mould.
The construction vehicles in the Terraforming Bay of the Covenant have the branding of JCB (Joseph Cyril Bamford Excavators Limited) a real-world British heavy equipment manufacturer.
The novel mentions Oram having dreamt about meeting God while he was unconscious due to the facehugger. XX121 Facehugger victims commonly seem to have strange dreams or nightmares.
While Planet 4 is not the official name given to the Uncharted World by any of the crew on the Covenant, 'Planet-4/Main Theme' is the name of track 6 from Alien Covenant official soundtrack which plays twice in relation to the planet. The first is while Mother pinpoints this planet as the origin of the Rogue Transmission, the second is while the USCSS Covenant is on its way to the planet.
The novel describes the Planet 4 Facehugger as being incredibly strong with neither Lopè or Cole able to remove it even with their combined strength, which necessitated the use of a knife for Cole to cut it off of Lopè.
The song being hummed by Shaw during the rogue transmission was "Take Me Home Country Roads" from John Denver's 1971 album Poems, Prayers, & Promises.
The Covenant's discovery of the rogue transmission and the events that followed is similar to the Nostromo's discovery of a beacon that led them to LV-426 in Alien (1979).
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).
The Egg sack closely resembles and functions as Lycopedron pyriforme puffball fungi.
The Neomorph's physical appearance has been noted as being similar to the Beluga-Xenomorph from the early Prometheus script Alien: Engineers. Moreover, the means by which hosts are infected through airborne contagion bears notable similarities to aspects of William Gibson's unproduced script for Alien3, in which the regular Xenomorph develops an ability to procreate via an airborne form.
Michael Fassbender listens to his echo in the cave with the same lilt used by Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) when Lawrence is riding his camel in Wadi Rum.
This is the second film that Michael Fassbender and Katherine Waterston have appeared in together, the first being Steve Jobs (2015).
The poem Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley is discussed extensively by characters in both this and Billy Crudup's earlier movie Watchmen (2009).
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).
When Daniels fights back against David in the scroll crypt, he says "that's the spirit" - an homage to Rutger Bauer's Roy Batty in Bladerunner.
Katherine Waterston and Carmen Ejogo 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.
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 Alien: Resurrection (1997) when a creature tries to attack Dr. Gediman through the glass.
This was Ridley Scott's first experience using ARRI Alexa cameras. He'll later use them again in his later film, All the Money in the World (2017).
This is the second film that James Franco (Branson) and Katherine Waterston (Daniels) appear in together. They also appeared in The Letter (2012).