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Elysium director Neill Blomkamp talks Halo, Star Wars, Michael Bay, and a possible District 9 sequel

07.16.2013

Next month, innovative director Neill Blomkamp will debut his second feature, ELYSIUM, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, following on the heels of his masterful debut, DISTRICT 9. In anticipation of his latest venture, Wired sat down the with the South African filmmaker and picked his brain on a number of things, including the failed HALO film, STAR WARS, studio franchise films, his next film, CHAPPIE, the possibility of a DISTRICT 9 sequel, and his feelings on Michael Bay. It's an interesting piece on the director that really taps into his perspective on making movies. Check out the highlights below!

On the HALO movie fiasco:

"The young director relocated his family to New Zealand, but after about six months of development, the plug was pulled on Halo. The project had gotten off to an unpleasant start—Blomkamp cites friction with 20th Century Fox’s then cochair and CEO, Tom Rothman (“I think he thought I was too young and inexperienced”). But ultimately, according to Blomkamp and published accounts, the unusual financial model—two studios sharing profits with an unbending Microsoft—killed Halo. Which didn’t stop the blame from being spread around. “One of the studios was quoted as saying it had no confidence in Neill,” Jackson says. 'I thought, ‘You shit bags!’It was studio egos that brought Halo down.'"

Peter Jackson on DISTRICT 9:

“We tried to make District 9 everything Halo wasn’t for Neill,” Jackson says. “R-rated? Sure! Cast your buddy Sharlto Copley in the lead? Sure! Shoot in a dangerous Joburg township? Sure!”

Blomkamp on the failure of HALO and what it taught him about preexisting franchises:

“When any young director gets hired by a studio to do a $125 million film based on a preexisting piece of intellectual property, they’re climbing into the meat grinder. And what you’re coming out with on the other side is a generic, heavily studio-controlled pile of garbage that ends up on the side of Burger King wrappers.”

On being approached for STAR WARS:

"He turned down the possibility of working on a new Star Wars movie after the subject was “gingerly” broached by Elysium producer and close friend Simon Kinberg, who’s deeply involved in the revitalized franchise."

On who was originally going to play Matt Damon's role in ELYSIUM:

"...he initially approached Ninja, of the outlandish South African rap-rave crew Die Antwoord, to play the lead in what would have been a much lower-budget version of Elysium. A South African countercultural icon, Ninja didn’t want his first screen role to be an American-accented character in such a high-profile film. (“It was a fucked-up, difficult decision,” says the musician, who has a d9 inner-lip tattoo to prove his devotion to his favorite movie.) Blomkamp subsequently approached a bigger-name white rapper, Eminem, who was interested but only if the shoot took place in his hometown of Detroit."

On his next feature, CHAPPIE:

"Chappie, Blomkamp says, is about sentience: “If something is as smart as you, do you treat it differently if it isn’t a human?” He’s cowriting Chappie with Tatchell, who describes the script as laugh-out-loud funny but also emotional. “It’s fairly touching,” Blomkamp confirms. “But, you know, fraught with gunfire.”

On a DISTRICT 9 sequel:

"Blomkamp doesn’t know what’s next. He and Tatchell have written an 18-page treatment for District 10—about which he’ll say little more than that the story is “really fucking cool”—but he’s not prepared to commit to it. He’s sure he’ll come up with any number of other really fucking cool ideas he might want to pursue first."

Blomkamp on Michael Bay:

“It’s not just blowing stuff up,” he says. “I like the way he composes scenes and action. He’s inspiring.” (Turns out Blomkamp is a longtime Bay fanboy; when he was 19, he made a failed pilgrimage to LA to meet the man.)

Very cool stuff. DISTRICT 9 made me a die-hard Blomkamp fan and ELYSIUM looks every bit as exciting and beaming with the director's signature style. Although I'd love to see him tackle something like STAR WARS, STAR TREK, or THE TERMINATOR franchise, I can see how Blomkamp would feel burned by the experience of HALO. Hopefully, he'll bounce back and get the proper studio support for one of those franchises someday, as they'd be stupid not to get someone of his talents on ANY of their franchises and just let him do his thing.

ELYSIUM hits theaters on August 9, 2013.

Extra Tidbit: As much as I'd like to see Blomkamp on Star Wars, I really think he'd rock the shit out of The Terminator. What say you?
Source: Wired

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