After 11 years, it seems that director Neill Blomkamp is finally feeling ready to revisit the property that first thrust him into the limelight, 2009’s District 9. Blomkamp’s sci-fi stunner took the industry by storm that year, unexpectedly garnering four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and a nod for Blomkamp as the co-writer of the film’s screenplay. It was a deeply allegorical tale about oppression and racism, drawing on Blomkamp’s feelings about his South African home, which in the film is host to a minority population of alien refugees who are kept in a dirty slum neighborhood. A lively blend of political satire and explosive action, District 9 wasn’t quite like anything Americans had seen before, outside the work of Paul Verhoeven. Moreover, the film’s ambiguous ending has always left room for a bigger continuation of the story. Now, Blomkamp says via Twitter that he’s finally working on that screenplay, alongside star Sharlto Copley of District 9.
One might have expected to see Blomkamp revisit the property sooner, but he’s been pretty clear in the past that he was waiting for the right time to get serious about District 10. In a 2017 AMA (ask me anything) on reddit, Blomkamp said the following about his plans for the sequel:
“Ok, so with District 10 the basic answer is yes. I want to go back to that world and tell rest of the story with Wikus and Christopher. The issue right now is that I have many other projects and ideas that I also want to work on and complete…..and most importantly, the exact right REASON to make District 10 needs be very clear. The first film was based so explicitly on real themes and topics from South Africa that effected [sic] me greatly growing up there, that we need to make sure the next film does not forget that.”
Blomkamp is the director of other sci-fi features, such as 2013’s Elysium and 2015’s Chappie, but his career in the last half decade has often involved development hell and being attached to projects that don’t end up seeing the light of day. Famously, he was meant to make a film in the Alien universe before things fell apart, and it seems like every six months or so since then we’d hear news of a prospective Blomkamp project that didn’t end up panning out. Meanwhile, the director was exploring the limits of independent short filmmaking online with his Oats Studio, making some truly fantastic science fiction and horror shorts that we wrote about back in 2017. But things have been fairly quiet since, until the recent reveal this week that he’s actually completed a new low-budget horror feature entitled Demonic, which was shot with COVID-19 protocols during the summer in British Columbia.
So, is this the start of the Blomkamp renaissance? Or is he using the carrot of District 10 to make people aware of the existence of Demonic? It’s not entirely clear, but we expect to hear more information on the latter in the near future. As for District 10, we could still be waiting for a while, but it seems safe to say that there’s been no shortage of disturbing inspiration for Blomkamp in the last 11 years. Let’s hope he turns it into some more gold.