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How to Watch the Alien movies in order

In space, no one can hear you stream

Alien: Romulus
Image credit: 20th Century Studios

May 25, 1979. On the big screen, a tiny demonic creature that we'll come to know as a baby xenomorph bursts from the chest of poor Kane, played by John Hurt, and into the annals of science fiction history. The movie is Alien, and more than four decades later, its spawn have infested the pop culture landscape just as much as they had Kane's lungs, with results that are just as permanent - as can be seen by the fact that a new installment, Alien: Romulus, debuts later this year.

As we head towards the 45th anniversary of the series, it's worth noting that if you're looking for an atypical horror franchise to celebrate with, the Alien movies are an excellent choice. However, just diving into the films isn't as simple as all that. They're bingable, certainly, but to the untrained viewer, keeping the continuity and sequence straight can be something of a problem.

That's why I've compiled this Alien movies watch order for anyone interested in exploring the worlds of Ridley Scott's "Jaws in space" saga. Take a look, but maybe don't lean in to close... Those facehuggers are great at surprises.

How to watch the Alien movies in release order

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Just google 'Alien movies' and you're sure to find a simple list of the franchise organized from oldest to newest movie. If what you want from an Alien-athon is an experience similar to that of a fan that's been with the franchise since it began, I'd recommend following that list, which looks like this:

Now, this list is great for some cinematic purists, but if you're seeking a cohesive story, it's a little convoluted. The order feels off and some of the events are just downright contradicting. So if you want to keep your Alien narrative straight, you'd better switch marathon methods.

How to watch the Alien movies in chronological order

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

The difficulty in watching the Alien franchise in chronological order is that there's actually more than one chronology. Similar to the Halloween franchise (though blessedly less complex), the studio plans for the Alien movies changed a few different times, leading to the development of two differing narratives after the four original Alien movies were released. I'm going to go ahead and categorize those narratives starting with:

The AVP Timeline

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Interestingly, what differs in the two Alien timelines isn't what comes after the first four Alien movies, but what comes before. The first set of prequels are Earth-bound adventures that see Alien's Xenomorph species go head to head with the Yautja, what we would call "Predators." Originally conceived as a Dark Horse Comic, the cinematic interpretation of the Alien vs. Predator timeline goes like this:

  • Alien vs. Predator (2004)
  • Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
  • Alien (1979)
  • Aliens (1986)
  • Alien³ (1992)
  • Alien: Resurrection (1997)

Between Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem and the first Alien movie, there's a lot of world-building that goes down, and over a century of time. This was a bold choice for a franchise that, up until then, had only been set in a far off future, a future that the franchise would revert to in:

The Prometheus Timeline

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

I'll start this timeline off with a brief apology; if you didn't know that Prometheus was a surprise prequel to the Alien franchise, I'm sorry to have spoiled that for you. In my defense, that movie is 11 years old. That's, like, four 'Tenet's.

Beginning with Prometheus, this new wave of prequels undid everything that transpired in the Alien vs. Predator films, reestablishing the idea that the human race won't come into contact with the Xenomorphs for a long, long time from now. Watch this timeline in this order:

  • Prometheus (2012)
  • Alien: Covenant (2017)
  • Alien (1979)
  • Alien: Romulus (2024)
  • Aliens (1986)
  • Alien³ (1992)
  • Alien: Resurrection (1997)

However you choose to watch the Alien franchise (and let's be honest, you can handle opposing timelines. You've seen X-Men, right?), the next choice you need to make is where to watch the movies. Of course, you can always rent them on platforms like Apple and Amazon, but I know you're really wondering...

Where can I watch the Alien movies?

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Anyone who's binged a horror franchise knows that there's a little bit of platform-hopping involved. And with a series as popular as Alien, you might expect the movies to be totally scattered, as spread out across streaming services as the films are across space. Fortunately, most of the movies come in groups, so even though you'll have to make a few stops along your journey, there's plenty to find where you land.

All four of the original Alien series (that is, Alien, Aliens, Alien³, and Alien Resurrection), are available to stream right now on Hulu. Then, both Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem are yours to watch with a subscription to Starz. And the newer movies, though more dispersed than the rest, are still easy to stream; Prometheus is available on MGM+ and Alien: Covenant is on TNT's streaming service.

Altogether it's a pretty easy list of services to keep straight, especially considering how well-segmented the movies are. And once you finish your galaxy-wide, streamer-crossing binge, odds are you'll be asking:

Will there be more Alien movies?

Image credit: Fede Álvarez, Twitter

As we mentioned earlier, legendary horror master Fede Álvarez - who you may know from the 2013 Evil Dead remake and smash-hit home invasion thriller Don't Breathe - is directing Alien: Romulus, a new entry to the franchise slated for release on August 16, 2024. The movie will star Cailee Spaeny, who recently spoke to Variety about the film's continuity.

"It’s supposed to slot in between the first movie and the second movie," said the Priscilla star, who also confirmed "They brought the same team from ‘Aliens,’ the James Cameron film. The same people who built those xenomorphs actually came on and built ours."

As exciting as that news is, we don't have any images of Romulus's xenomorphs just yet despite a great teaser trailer, save for the picture above. That one comes from Fede Álvarez's Twitter, who posted to wish us all a Happy Alien Day.

Watch on YouTube

What's Alien Day, you ask? Well, it's April 26, a reference to the moon designated LV-426, where humanity first encounters xenomorphs in the first Alien film.

But hey, with eight movies already ready to binge and a new one on the way, I don't see why every day can't be Alien Day.

If you're interested more in the fun aspects of scifi and less in the, er, chestbursty parts, might we suggest our Doctor Who watch order?