One of the most iconic movie franchises of all time makes its return to theaters this month in Alien: Covenant. With original director Ridley Scott promising a return to the horror seen in the original Alien, while also continuing the loosely-connected story he began in the prequel Prometheus, the film looks to bring the series full circle. But as is the case with any franchise that's been running for nearly 40 years, there's a lot of content out there to catch up with before watching the latest installment, so you'll want to know where to watch the Alien movies before checking out Covenant.
The franchise began with Scott's Alien in 1979 and then continued with what's largely regarded as one of the greatest sequels ever made, James Cameron's 1986 actioner Aliens. The female-led franchise continued in the '90s with two sequels that weren't nearly as well-received as their predecessors: 1992's Alien 3 and 1997's Alien: Resurrection. After that, the proper franchise took a break in exchange for crossover spinoffs with the Predator franchise. First came Alien vs. Predator in 2004, which was successful enough to spawn a sequel in 2007's Aliens vs Predator: Requiem. Then in 2012, Scott returned to the franchise he started for the first time since Alien to explore the horrific creatures' origins with his tonally-different philosophical 2012 film Prometheus. By my count, that's seven films to watch before Alien: Covenant if you want to consume all the Alien stuff that's out there, but how do you go about doing that?
I'll just come right out and say it, it's going to cost you some money. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are streaming exactly zero movies from the franchise, and you won't have much better luck with paid premium cable channels. The only one currently housing an Alien film is HBO, which boasts Prometheus as part of its film library. Since Alien: Covenant is a sequel to that film, Prometheus is definitely the most important movie to watch to prepare for the new movie, but what about the rest?
Your options are either to buy them or rent them online, and you can do so at all the usual outlets like iTunes and Amazon. The most important film in the series to watch besides Prometheus is undoubtedly the original Alien, since it's the only other one Scott directed and since Covenant is a prequel to it, meaning there will likely be lots of Easter eggs. I'd also recommend checking out Aliens since it's fantastic and an important installment in the franchise.
As for the rest, though? Meh, you can probably save your money and skip the remaining two Alien films — and definitely the two AVP films — and still feel caught up for Covenant. However, if you're a completist and feel compelled to watch everything, then your best bet is probably to purchase physical box sets from Amazon. Prometheus to Alien: The Evolution contains the four Alien films and Prometheus and costs around $22 for Blu-ray, and you could also pick up a Blu-ray double feature containing both AVP movies for about 8 bucks. That's a $30 investment to own everything, whereas renting all seven would run you about $28. Decisions, decisions.
Catching up on the Alien franchise is no easy task, but it would totally be worth it to be a xenomorph and complex female lead expert before watching Alien: Covenant.