THE WAIT: 5 years (or 300, according to the plot)
WHAT TOOK SO LONG? After the critical mauling of the third Alien outing (in contrast to the praise heaped on the Ridley Scott and James Cameron movies Alien and Aliens - which were actually separated by 6 years - it looked like the franchise could be dead in the water.
Fox hired Joss Whedon who penned five versions, none of which were green-lit. As Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) had died at the end of Alien 3 the story was meant to revolve around the character of Newt - a concept Whedon found problematic.
Eventually the studio settled on a cloning storyline and directors Danny Boyle, Peter Jackson and Bryan Singer were all approached. Eventually, they settled on the relatively inexperienced French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who had just finished scripting the distinctly un-Alien like Amelie.