Sony Pictures are finally on the promotional path for “Elysium,” the Matt Damon-starring sci-fi film, written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, the filmmaker behind “District 9.” Like his Peter Jackson-produced debut, which was set in a post-apocalyptic future in Johannesburg, dealing with issues like apartheid, xenophobia, poverty and slums, “Elysium” also blends mind-blowing action and effects with social concerns and textures this time featuring a 1% elite upper crust on a space station, and the 99% social class on a overpopulated and over polluted planet Earth below.
Blomkamp, Damon and co-star Sharlto Copley did the press rounds for Sony this week, who unveiled footage and trailers of the film for press in L.A. (read our report here). And while Blomkamp is now known — much like “Looper” director Rian Johnson — for creating ambitious original stories with tentpole budgets and constraints, Blomkamp said his approach isn’t that conscious or premeditated. “I don’t think I actively sit down and say, “I’m going to do my own stuff and that I want everything to be original,” he explained.
He’ll remind you in fact that his debut film was supposed to be an adaptation of the Microsoft Studios’ immensely popular video game “Halo,” but it fell apart in development (in fact, it was once described as a “clusterfuck”). Blomkamp suggests there were simply too many cooks in the kitchen and the project came with a lot of baggage.
“I actually still really like the universe and the world of ‘Halo’ and the mythology of ‘Halo’,” he explained, discussing an example of a project he would do that wasn’t something he originally conceived. “If I was given control, I would like to do that film, but that’s the problem. When something pre-exists, there’s this idea of ‘I have my interpretation of what that is,’ but along with it comes like 150 other people involved with the film’s interpretation of the same intellectual property and then the entire film-going audience has their interpretation that you can live up to or fail in their eyes. And that part of it isn’t appealing to me. But the original pieces are appealing.”
As for sequels to his own films, there’s been talk that Blomkamp would make a “District 10,” but it hasn’t come to fruition yet. He spoke about sequels to his films, but didn’t talk in any concrete manner though hinted that there could be more to the universe of his debut. “In terms of sequels to my own stuff, I think a lot of it just comes down to if there’s just more to say. I think the world of ‘District 9’ has a lot of very interesting race and oppression-based ideas that I would still like to explore in that world,” he stated. “Again, I have zero problems… I’ll make my own stuff or whatever you want to call it, sequel-ize my own stuff.”
While others speculated that he was talking about the upcoming “Star Wars,” Blomkamp simply spoke about franchises he loves, but would be reluctant to be involved with. But he’s speaking so broadly, they could be anything at all.
“And then there’s a few pieces of cinema history that I like so much I don’t know whether I could be involved with them,” he said. “There’s, you know, there’s iconic characters that I really like that I would love to get closer to and make a film about. When I start dipping my toes into it, I get this allergic reaction. Maybe one day I’ll end up doing something like that.”
“Elysium” hits theaters on August 9th.