Over the weekend, it seemed as if general audiences forgot about Neill Blomkamp’s latest film, Elysium. Although the science fiction social allegory was at the top of the box office, it whimpered in with a $29.8 million domestic opening, against a $115 million production budget. At the moment, Elysium has grossed $44.1 million worldwide, and it remains unclear if it will be profitable for Sony in the long run. The film received a mixed critical response and middling box office receipts, but despite Elysium‘s disappointing numbers, Sony clearly wants to stay in business with director Neill Blomkamp. The studio has now greenlit his next film, Chappie, for a production start this fall.
As reported by /Film, Sony gave the go-ahead for Blomkamp to make Chappie a reality. The film will reunite Blomkamp with his South African roots, while serving as a more lighthearted film from the young director. Sony also revealed the official plot synopsis for Chappie, so we’ll finally get to the bottom of why the South African rap duo Die Antwoord are going to be up to in the new science fiction comedy.
Chappie tells the story of a robot imbued with artificial intelligence who is stolen by two local gangsters who want to use him for their own nefarious purposes. The film will star Sharlto Copley as the voice of Chappie, with Ninja and Yolandi Visser, voices of the South African Zef counter-culture movement and members of rap-rave duo Die Antwoord, as the two gangsters.
A few months ago, Blomkamp expressed his enthusiasm about working with Die Antwoord in his next film. Chappie will be Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er’s feature film debut, although the pair worked with Blomkamp on a few of his short films in the past, namely Is It Dead?, which featured a gnarly dead alien. In 2010, Yo-Landi Vi$$er was rumored to be up for the leading role of Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The role ended up going to Rooney Mara, whose performance was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Leading Female Actor.
Chappie is based on Neill Blomkamp’s short film Tetra Vaal, which is a fake commercial for a fictional robot police force for the South African slums. Blomkamp co-wrote the new science fiction film with his writing partner and wife Terri Tatchell (District 9). Hopefully Chappie will be a better movie with the addition of Terri Tatchell as a writer. Blomkamp wrote Elysium by himself, so it’s easy to see how that film got off track, when compared to District 9. Apparently, Blomkamp wrote Elysium and Chappie at the same time.
Since Neill Blomkamp has to hold off on working on Chappie until Elysium was released (Elysium was originally supposed to be released in March, but was pushed to August instead), it seems as if the 33-year-old director is itching to start working on a new film again. Blomkamp described Chappie as “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.”
The official plot synopsis does not mention actor Dev Patel, who was in early talks to star in the film. Perhaps Patel’s would-be character is the robot’s owner.
Sony has yet to release an official release date for Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie.
You can watch Neill Blomkamp’s Tetra Vaal short film from 2004 below. You can almost see the prototype for Elysium‘s Homeland Security droids in in the short film.