Sony, which distributed District 9, is putting up a reported – but unconfirmed – $120 million to also distribute writer/director Neill Blomkamp’s sophomore film Elysium. That’s pretty cool since Sony did a swell job selling District 9 and were successful with it, plus it’s just a damned big vote of confidence. Media Rights Capital is the group providing the direct financing for the project.
I haven’t written about this one yet, because I’m lazy, but it’s been quickly gearing up for production to begin this summer in Vancouver and then in Mexico in the fall. The cast so far includes District 9 lead Sharlto Copley plus the star power of Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. Syd Mead, the man famously credited as a visual futurist on Blade Runner, has signed on to do set design work. He’s a really picky man when it comes to film projects, so this is a big coup for Blomkamp. Mead has also done noteworthy design work on the likes of Tron, Aliens, Strange Days and Mission to Mars. There’s virtually nothing none about the movie’s story except that it takes place approximately 100 years in the future and will include some form of social commentary in the same vein, if not subject, as District 9. It’s also apparently going to be R-rated, again like District 9.
Bonus news: As part of an overall deal with Blomkamp, MRC has also given the go-ahead for his third film, titled Chappie. That’s another original film that he’ll tackle as soon as he’s finished Elysium. No other details were revealed but given Blomkamp’s interests, I’d hazard a guess that it’s another science fiction project of some sort. Chappie is not included in Sony’s distribution deal for Elysium and will be offered to buyers at a later date.
To sum up, this is all fantastic news. I loved District 9 and Neill Blomkamp’s style and approach to story, so I’m thrilled to see him successfully find funding for not only Elysium but also Chappie. He’s my favorite, and I’d argue best, of a new crop of sci-fi storytellers that have been hopping into the Hollywood talent pool, alongside the likes of Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) and Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy, potentially forthcoming projects Oblivion, The Black Hole). I’m very excited to see what he delivers next.
Elysium is currently expected to be released during the 2012 holiday season.