Alien Movie Invasion!

Rogue/Wilson Webb/Zade Rosenthal
Unfriendly Skies: The folks in "Paul," left, and "Skyline" hope these ETs go home

Here comes an onslaught of films about otherworldly visitors. Is it overkill?

On Nov. 12, the heavens will fill with dark machines sucking up humans like dust mites.

But will Skyline,an alien-invasion pic from brothers Colin and Greg Strause, be as effective at sucking in audiences? Hollywood hopes so. The Universal film is the first in a wave of alien-themed movies headed to theaters during the next two years.

Skyline comes on the heels of Monsters, a low-budget festival film about aliens gobbling up half of Mexico. In March, Sony unleashes Battle: Los Angeles, a Cloverfield-meets-Independence Day take on the genre from Jonathan Liebesman that tracks a group of Marines fighting street-by-street in L.A. In July, DreamWorks’ big-budget Cowboys & Aliens transports the invasion to 19th century Arizona. And if that’s not enough, aliens will get freaky in The Thing and comedic in Paul. They look like humans in I Am Number Four, and lord knows what they are in Super 8, the top-secret project from J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg.

[pullquote] Then there’s Universal’s Battleship, a $200 million aliens-at-sea adaptation of the otherwise alien-free Hasbro board game, due in summer 2012.

“Aliens are the new zombies,” says Monsters director Gareth Edwards, comparing the genre to the current glut of movies and TV shows featuring the walking dead.

From War of the Worlds to Independence Day, movies about visitors from above are a Hollywood mainstay. But some worry whether the genre is being stretched too thin.

Many believe the glut of alien projects is a result of the success of District 9, which showed how a $30 million-budgeted invasion movie could attract a four-quadrant audience. Visual effects now allow even low-budget filmmakers to fill the sky with spaceships or tentacles. Even Independence Day maestro Roland Emmerich is working on a microbudget alien movie called The Zone.

“It’s changed the landscape,” says Colin Strause, whose Skyline cost about $10 million but is being marketed like a potential blockbuster. “It’s no longer the exclusive sandbox of studios.” 

But avoiding audience fatigue will be a challenge.

“Aliens land and attack everyone — after the 10th version of that, it’s going to lose its freshness,” Edwards says.

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