In 2009 South African director Neill Blomkamp released his directorial debut, a sci-fi movie called District 9. It was a hit. The reviews for District 9 were out of this world. It hit on every level, the main being financial. The movie cost only $30 million to make and to date has earned over $220 million. So obviously, given the wonderful science fiction storyline, the raving critical response, and its extreme profitability, there would be a District 9 sequel. Right? It was going to be called District 10, right? Not so fast.
It all started back when Blomkamp and super producer / director / writer / movie mogul Peter Jackson had a plan. They were going to take the popular video game Halo and turn it into a movie. Financing issues jumped to the forefront, unfortunately, essentially killing this planned production. But Peter Jackson still wanted to work with Blomkamp. He saw something in Blomkamp, a first-time director, that he liked. Blomkamp had previously directed shorts and commercials, so Halo was going to be his first full-time gig. With Halo unable to get off the ground, Jackson and Blomkamp began looking for other projects, projects whose budget wasn’t a backbreaker.
Enter District 9. Written by Blomkamp, along with his wife, Terri Tatchell, Peter Jackson decided that this movie project could work. And work it did. District 9 is a sci-fi action piece that tells the story of a large spaceship that finds itself over Johannesburg, a city in South Africa. Housed inside this spaceship are a million plus aliens, in various forms of malnourishment. Not posing a threat, these aliens are taken by the South African government and put in a “camp” they call District 9. As the years move on, unrest takes over the District. A man, Wilkus, is brought in to relocate the aliens to a new area, District 10.
As the story unfolds, Wilkus finds himself having to serve some aliens notice for the move. The aliens he encounters in District 9 had been searching the D9 garbage heap for alien fuel that would help them fuel up their dropship and allow them to return to the mothership. There was enough fuel found for the aliens to synthesize it. When Wilkus arrives, he finds this synthesized fuel and accidently sprays some in his own face. This spray causes Wilkus to start to change into alien form himself. From there, the action picks up even more based on actual historical events that took place during the apartheid era. It’s a compelling story, very human and heartfelt.
Everyone was primed for a District 9 sequel. Audiences wanted District 10. So did studios, it seemed. And we’d already been promised one. During an interview before the movie was to be released, director Neill Blomkamp himself stated that plans were already in the works for a sequel depending on just how successful District 9 was. Shortly after this confirmation, Blomkamp again stated he’d love to follow-up District 9 with 10, but also said there was a possibility that the next movie could actually be a prequel. These statements held fast for a few years when in another interview Blomkamp again stated his desire to make a District 10. At that point, as he was the screenwriter for District 9, he admitted he had come up with an idea for District 10 but he truly wanted to make one in the near future.
But what is that future, as we are now six years from that statement by Blomkamp and ten years down the road from District 9. Blomkamp has gone on to make more movies. Two of his films, Elysium and Chappie, also happened to star lead actor from District 9, Sharlto Copley. Given that these two made both films together after District 9, they couldn’t claim their schedules were in conflict. So why isn’t there a sequel to District 9?
The simple answer is this: Neill Blomkamp hadn’t even planned on making a sequel. In fact, the thought didn’t occur to him until he was nearly finished editing District 9. He didn’t think it was possible until he saw the full story on film. Blomkamp saw his initial story as a standalone piece, something he wouldn’t need to follow-up on. Another basis of confusion for the director was that once he thought another movie was possible, he couldn’t decide on its direction. Did it need a prequel? Did it deserve a sequel instead? His inability to answer those two questions left the prequel/sequel thought in limbo.
The years began to move fast. Blomkamp went on to Elysium and then Chappie. After Chappie Blomkamp announced that he felt District 9, Elysium, and Chappie were a trilogy of sorts and that Chappie wrapped up that sequel. Blomkamp says:
“The problem is I feel like Chappie is the end of three films that have a similar stylistic approach to them. Chappie is the odd one out in that is has no socio-political underpinnings. It doesn’t have my experiences as a kid in South Africa incorporated into it. And Elysium – although it doesn’t have my experiences as a kid in South Africa, it has the same notion of oppressor in the elites, and the large population base beneath it. And Chappiedoesn’t, but they are still part of a trilogy.”– IGN
During the Chappie timeframe, Blomkamp did announce that he had a really cool idea for a District 9 follow-up, but to date, nothing has surfaced. Since this “cool idea” announcement, Blomkamp has kept himself busy with eleven shorts and one TV series. He’s been very quiet on the District 10 front. Does this mean a sequel is dead in the water? Does this mean that he is doing a slow cook on the sequel, taking his time writing his really cool idea? We can hope we hear something soon about this. District 9 and its many fans deserve a follow-up to its wonderful story. Fingers crossed.