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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.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

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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2:35PM on 07/16/2013

District 9

District 9 was absolute gold. The gritty feel to it, the look of the aliens, the entirely realistic portrayal of how humans would actually interact with that species, the lead actor...with what Blomkamp did with that movie, it's a shame we'll most likely never see his vision for a Halo movie. It'd be excellent. He's proven he can nail the sci-fi element and the action beats. I'm excited to see Elysium, from the trailers it looks just as good as District 9 was.
District 9 was absolute gold. The gritty feel to it, the look of the aliens, the entirely realistic portrayal of how humans would actually interact with that species, the lead actor...with what Blomkamp did with that movie, it's a shame we'll most likely never see his vision for a Halo movie. It'd be excellent. He's proven he can nail the sci-fi element and the action beats. I'm excited to see Elysium, from the trailers it looks just as good as District 9 was.
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2:56PM on 07/16/2013
Michael Bay does make pretty movies, but inspiring? Eh, to each their own, still can't wait for Elysium!
Michael Bay does make pretty movies, but inspiring? Eh, to each their own, still can't wait for Elysium!
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2:56PM on 07/16/2013
The guy loves doing his own thing in his movies, so I doubt he'd write a treatment for Terminator 5. But hell, he'd be perfect for it.
The guy loves doing his own thing in his movies, so I doubt he'd write a treatment for Terminator 5. But hell, he'd be perfect for it.
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3:36PM on 07/16/2013
He seems pretty down to Earth as much as he is talented.
He seems pretty down to Earth as much as he is talented.
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2:32PM on 07/16/2013

Interesting stuff...

It would've been cool to see Eminem as the lead in 'Elysium'. It's too bad he's a hermit and never wants to leave Detroit.
It would've been cool to see Eminem as the lead in 'Elysium'. It's too bad he's a hermit and never wants to leave Detroit.
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10:28AM on 07/17/2013

Cut the chit chat A-hole!

People love to talk crap about Bay, but I honestly can't say a bad thing about him—sure he's churned out some crap in his day... but Bad Boys and The Rock are two of the best buddy action movies of all time, R-rated, 360º shots, explosions and all.
People love to talk crap about Bay, but I honestly can't say a bad thing about him—sure he's churned out some crap in his day... but Bad Boys and The Rock are two of the best buddy action movies of all time, R-rated, 360º shots, explosions and all.
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2:51PM on 07/16/2013
Blomkamp inspires
Blomkamp inspires
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2:38PM on 07/16/2013

Nice piece.

There are 3 directors whos work I consistently love - Blomkamp, Snyder, and Abrams.
There are 3 directors whos work I consistently love - Blomkamp, Snyder, and Abrams.
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12:15PM on 07/17/2013
As if we needed any more proof that Tom Rothman was a douche. Them being in pre-production indicates a script had already been written; I wonder who the writers were.
As if we needed any more proof that Tom Rothman was a douche. Them being in pre-production indicates a script had already been written; I wonder who the writers were.
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+3
2:29AM on 07/17/2013

Good article

I love how this article reminded me of how much 20th Century Fox needs to quit playing a fucking ego war and let these directors make the movie they were hired to make. Studios need to learn to stop interfering with a choke hold on so many projects. Look at X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and A Good Day To Die Hard.
Same goes to you Disney!
I love how this article reminded me of how much 20th Century Fox needs to quit playing a fucking ego war and let these directors make the movie they were hired to make. Studios need to learn to stop interfering with a choke hold on so many projects. Look at X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and A Good Day To Die Hard.
Same goes to you Disney!
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7:34PM on 07/16/2013
I re-watched D9 last week, haven't seen it for ages - almost forgot how damn awesome it is. I'd be first in line if a sequel ever manages to materialise, but having said that, Chappie sounds pretty cool as well. Really looking forward to Elysium. Plus in that pic at the top Blomkamp looks like a skinny Nick Frost :)
I re-watched D9 last week, haven't seen it for ages - almost forgot how damn awesome it is. I'd be first in line if a sequel ever manages to materialise, but having said that, Chappie sounds pretty cool as well. Really looking forward to Elysium. Plus in that pic at the top Blomkamp looks like a skinny Nick Frost :)
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7:06PM on 07/16/2013

I say...

I'm glad hes doing what hes doing, the studios will only make him do something stupid. He's like del torro doing what he loves. Making movies that he loves. And I'm so freakin glad the old cast idea for ELYSIUM didn't come through what a shit poor choices LOL. What were you thinking dude ? but ELYSIUM looks so freakin awesome and district 9 is a a major classic sci-fi film for me :) all the best for him.
I'm glad hes doing what hes doing, the studios will only make him do something stupid. He's like del torro doing what he loves. Making movies that he loves. And I'm so freakin glad the old cast idea for ELYSIUM didn't come through what a shit poor choices LOL. What were you thinking dude ? but ELYSIUM looks so freakin awesome and district 9 is a a major classic sci-fi film for me :) all the best for him.
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7:15PM on 07/16/2013
Double post...

...But while we're at it, Matt Damon is freaking awesome. I have a lot of respect for the dude.
Double post...

...But while we're at it, Matt Damon is freaking awesome. I have a lot of respect for the dude.
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4:10PM on 07/16/2013
If the terminator franchise (not that i'm for it) needed a reboot this is the dude i'd want for the job; new cast,new mythology, the works. I'd back him 100%.
As for a D9 sequel i guess that was inevitable though i don't know how it would top the first one but I trust him no matter the outcome.
Chappie sounds interesting and it would be great to see he him stretch his genre capabilities and not limit himself to Sci-fi.
If the terminator franchise (not that i'm for it) needed a reboot this is the dude i'd want for the job; new cast,new mythology, the works. I'd back him 100%.
As for a D9 sequel i guess that was inevitable though i don't know how it would top the first one but I trust him no matter the outcome.
Chappie sounds interesting and it would be great to see he him stretch his genre capabilities and not limit himself to Sci-fi.
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+2
3:54PM on 07/16/2013

LoL

That bit about Eminem just makes me think of his Brisk Iced Tea commercial and it fits so well, lol.
That bit about Eminem just makes me think of his Brisk Iced Tea commercial and it fits so well, lol.
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2:43PM on 07/16/2013
I agree with the extra tidbit. Blomkamp so far as shown a real nack for telling sci-fi stories. Some of the most engaging sci-fi in recent years. That being said, I can't see him doing Star Wars, I don't think his style would match well with the established history/universe of Star Wars. If he were to take over an existing franchise, I think Terminator might be more up his alley. And I'd still love to see him do Halo, and if not that then Gears of War.
I agree with the extra tidbit. Blomkamp so far as shown a real nack for telling sci-fi stories. Some of the most engaging sci-fi in recent years. That being said, I can't see him doing Star Wars, I don't think his style would match well with the established history/universe of Star Wars. If he were to take over an existing franchise, I think Terminator might be more up his alley. And I'd still love to see him do Halo, and if not that then Gears of War.
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7:10PM on 07/16/2013

Great director

Hope he gets to star trak or a Dc movie
Hope he gets to star trak or a Dc movie
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8:20AM on 07/17/2013
District 9 is up there with the best sci-fi movies, and I can see why Peter Jackson would find him something on a kindred spirit given the violent energy of Jackson's earlier films. Looking forward to Elysium and whatever else Blomkamp might have in store.
District 9 is up there with the best sci-fi movies, and I can see why Peter Jackson would find him something on a kindred spirit given the violent energy of Jackson's earlier films. Looking forward to Elysium and whatever else Blomkamp might have in store.
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3:02AM on 07/17/2013

Great Article

But thank fucking god he didn't get Eminem to play the main role, guy's a terrible actor...
But thank fucking god he didn't get Eminem to play the main role, guy's a terrible actor...
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10:31AM on 07/17/2013
Right??? what the hell was he thinking... However, that guy Ninja is a friggin psycho and could have probably turned in a great performance. I love when an unknown completely takes the cake in a film, Sharlto Copley in D9 was even better because we had never seen him in anything else before
Right??? what the hell was he thinking... However, that guy Ninja is a friggin psycho and could have probably turned in a great performance. I love when an unknown completely takes the cake in a film, Sharlto Copley in D9 was even better because we had never seen him in anything else before
8:31PM on 07/16/2013

Peter Jackson...

Your a cool guy and thanks for helping Niell make the movie, but Soweto is no more dangerous than any big city movies are filmed in. Stop giving it a bad rep.
Your a cool guy and thanks for helping Niell make the movie, but Soweto is no more dangerous than any big city movies are filmed in. Stop giving it a bad rep.
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10:14PM on 07/16/2013
Fuck that, I'm just impressed that he went on record calling the movie studios "shit bags".
Fuck that, I'm just impressed that he went on record calling the movie studios "shit bags".
2:51PM on 07/16/2013
He is my favourite director of his generation.he has the potential to be the new James cameron.iam sure Elysium is gonna be the best movie of the year
He is my favourite director of his generation.he has the potential to be the new James cameron.iam sure Elysium is gonna be the best movie of the year
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2:45PM on 07/16/2013
Elysium is going to be great. Can't wait to see it.

I would love for this guy to direct one of DC's upcoming superhero films that leads up to Justice League. Preferably Green Lantern or Flash.
Elysium is going to be great. Can't wait to see it.

I would love for this guy to direct one of DC's upcoming superhero films that leads up to Justice League. Preferably Green Lantern or Flash.
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