There was a time, decades ago, when cinematic world-building, particularly in the realm of science fiction, was not a thing that was commonly done. In the 1970s and further back, sci-fi films were usually one of two types: schlocky low-budget “B-movie” fare that no one wanted to replicate anyhow, or bigger-budget adaptations of famous written works, a la ‘The Time Machine’ and ‘War of the Worlds.’
In the 1970s and 1980s, things started to branch out a bit. Blockbuster original genre films like ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ and ‘Alien’ started to prove that creator-driven sci-fi was a viable option for big-budget films. The latter film, of course, was created in part by Ridley Scott, who went on to have his hand in other very successful films – but never felt like he could put a franchise together from his existing works. That is, until franchises started to become popular – most poignantly in the cinematic sci-fi world with the stories of ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Wars.’
As Scott recently admitted in a recent interview, his ideas and perceptions of what he could and couldn’t realistically do with his creations began to morph:
“You change over time. At that point I had no interest in ever doing a sequel, that’s why I never did a sequel to Alien for another 20 years, and then I thought ‘Do you know what, I’d better go back to this.’ Because I’d done two science fiction [films], Alien and Blade Runner, and I felt that that was it. That’s enough science fiction for a career. And of course, I never realized that the awakening of the science fiction universe, over many, many films, would get so large. You can’t thank Star Wars for that, you can thank, God bless them, Star Trek. You’ve got all that. It’s evolved and made another form of entertainment.”
With Scott’s sequel ‘Blade Runner 2049‘ set to come out this weekend (Scott produced the film, and director Dennis Villeneuve directed this one), he continues his recent work on expanding his properties. The ‘Alien’ franchise, as you no doubt know, has seen several sequels and prequels already, with at least two more films planned and in the works.