Neill Blomkamp made one of the most impressive directorial debuts in recent memory back in 2009 when “District 9” hit theaters; a firmly original, tonally dextrous science-fiction actioner that proved to be a serious sleeper hit, and caused many to compare him to the likes of James Cameron, or indeed, his executive producer Peter Jackson.
But rather than sign up for the first superhero tentpole that came along, the South African helmer marched to the beat of his own drum, setting up another original science-fiction project, “Elysium,” which got a much bigger budget than its predecessor, as well as A-listers Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, joining Diego Luna and “District 9” lead Sharlto Copley. The first footage from that film is currently unspooling at Comic-Con, but we spoke to Blomkamp not long beforehand — full interview to follow soon — and despite “Elysium” not being set for release until March 2013, Blomkamp is already turning his thoughts towards what could be next.
Back at the start of 2011, it was announced that Blomkamp had another project set up with Media Rights Capital, the backers of “Elysium,” entitled “Chappie,” although details were firmly under wraps about it. Until now, that is, as Blomkamp told our man on the Comic-Con floor Jeff Otto that it’s a sci-fi comedy that reunites him with “District 9” co-writer Terri Tatchell: “I wrote ‘Elysium’ on my own, but I wrote ‘Chappie’ with Terri [Tatchell], that was written at the same time. It’s like a fundamentally more simple story, a comedy, a heartfelt story, in a science fiction setting. And it’s fucking hilarious, it’s a really cool film. I can say that with confidence… It’s a smaller film, a more esoteric one.”
And in terms of timeframe, Blomkamp suspects it’ll come after “Elysium,” although he does have other ideas to go on, too. “It may very well be my next project,” Blomkamp told us. “It probably will be. But A) I wanna take some time off, and B) you need to know for sure that that’s what you’re going to do for X number of years. I have another idea for a horror, and for a comedy, but they’re way less fleshed out than ‘Chappie.’ ‘Chappie’ ‘s ready to go, and I think ‘Chappie’ ‘s what I’m making. But I’m gonna take some time to make sure.”
We’d also wondered if Blomkamp had plans to collaborate with Peter Jackson again. While Blomkamp denies reports he was ever connected to “The Hobbit” after Guillermo del Toro left the film, saying that the rumors were “completely erroneous, 100%,” the director said another team-up with Jackson might happen, but only on a direct follow-up to “District 9.”
And while that may happen, don’t look for it immediately. “The obvious place to work with him again,” Blomkamp said, “is on ‘District 10,’ or ‘District 8,‘ whatever you wanna call it, however, I’m not sure I’m making that film. It would be cool, but these films take two or three years to make, and the investments are so extreme, you can’t accurately predict where you’ll be a few years from now, I believe. If you’re not creatively invested in it, you’re making a mistake, and that creative investment happens day to day. So I don’t know when that feeling for a ‘District Whatever’ film happens.”
We’ll have much more from Blomkamp on the more immediate “Elysium,” in the next few days; check back over the weekend for that.