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‘Alien’ prequel takes off

Ridley Scott attached to return as director

Twentieth Century Fox is resuscitating its “Alien” franchise. The studio has hired Jon Spaihts to write a prequel that has Ridley Scott attached to return as director.

Spaihts got the job after pitching the studio and Scott Free, which will produce the film.

The film is set up to be a prequel to the groundbreaking 1979 film that Scott directed. It will precede that film, in which the crew of a commercial towing ship returning to Earth is awakened and sent to respond to a distress signal from a nearby planetoid. The crew discovers too late that the signal generated by an empty ship was meant to warn them.

The deal gives Fox another chance to keep the “Alien” franchise alive. There were three sequels to Scott’s original, but it is the first time the director has set his mind on directing one.

Spaihts has become a go-to-guy for space thrillers. After Keanu Reeves became attached to his Warner Bros. sci-fi script “Shadow 19,” Reeves hired Spaihts to write the space journey epic “Passengers,” which is berthed at Morgan Creek. That script got Spaihts the meeting with Fox and Scott Free, and he won the job with an “Alien” reboot take that the studio and Scott loved.

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Fox has separately hired him to rewrite “The Darkest Hour,” which Timur Bekmambetov to produce with Tom Jacobson. Spaihts is writing “Children of Mars” for Disney and Scott Rudin, and he will follow by rewriting “St. George and the Dragon” for Sony and Red Wagon.

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