Alien Covenant
The alien xenomorph in Alien Covenant. 20th Century Fox

Ridley Scott has admitted that the Alien franchise's monstrous stars may be a spent force on the big screen, saying in a recent interview: "The beast has almost run out, personally." The admission follows the release of Alien: Covenant earlier this year, which was critically panned and suffered at the box office.

Asked why he elected to direct Covenant – sequel to 2011's Prometheus – rather than Blade Runner 2049, he told The Hollywood Reporter: "I figured it was a good piece of business to follow through Prometheus, which, from ground zero, had good lift-off.

"So we went to Covenant to perpetuate the idea and [revive] the franchise of the Alien. I think the beast has almost run out, personally."

While neither Covenant nor Blade Runner fared particularly well financially - both have made $240m (£314m), with the latter still in some cinemas - 2049 enjoyed glowing reviews, with even some suggestions that it should be in line for awards season love next year.

Scott has previously suggested that he would follow Covenant up with two more sequels that would close the gap in the timeline and bring the series full circle, back around to the events of Scott's 1979 original.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald back in March that a script for a sequel was already complete, saying: "You've got to assume to a certain extent success and from that you'd better be ready. You don't want a two-year gap. So I'll be ready to go again next year."

Scott discussed a Covenant follow-up in October, saying on Empire's podcast that it would focus on AI rather than the iconic alien.

"I think the evolution of the alien himself is nearly over, but what I was trying to do was transcend and move to another story, which would be taken over by AIs," he said. "And the world that the AI might create as a leader if he finds himself on a new planet. We have actually quite a big layout for the next one."

Warning: spoilers for Alien Covenant follow.

The prequel films follow Michael Fassbender's android David, and his fascination with the creation of life and with achieving perfection. After Prometheus he travelled to the homeworld of the Engineers, and began a series of experiments that resulted in the alien we know.

At the end of Covenant, David has tricked the crew of the titular ship and taken control as they enter cryo-sleep. On board he has some alien embryos, and he probably isn't going to use them to do anything good.