The hit of Comic-Con was Peter Jackson protege Neill Blomkamp’s debut movie, the sci-fi thriller District 9. When Halo fell apart, Jackson and Blomkamp assembled this movie about what happens when aliens come to earth and we treat them badly. The creatures were designed as insect-like humanoids. Jackson was disappointed that Weta was so busy with James Cameron’s Avatar that he wasn’t able to commandeer his own people for the VFX and had to go elsewhere. “You have to empathize with the alien characters,” Jackson said. “They have to have an alien head with the human psychography of a face that you can recognize and extract emotion from. It wasn’t easy on our budget.”
Blomkamp, who grew up in South Africa during apartheid, started out too serious, he admitted. “Elements of segregation and xenophobia made it into the film, which has a “strange alternate reality,” he said. But he pulled back and tried to make a smart, accessible film, “more of a fun ride.”
I skipped the movie at Comic-Con because I was turned off by the trailer I saw at ShoWest. Several folks at the Con said it misrepresented the movie. Clearly, District 9 will need some of new Sony marketing chief Marc Weinstock’s marketing magic for it to break out beyond genre fans.