Depending on what you choose to believe, the fact that District 10 is finally in development over a decade after the original is either due to a worthwhile story being cracked by the creative team, or director Neill Blomkamp returning to his most acclaimed and successful feature in order to reignite his career behind the camera.
District 9 was a phenomenon at the time, hauling in $210 million at the box office and riding a wave of critical acclaim to four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. The fact Blomkamp achieved all of this before he’d even turned 30 only served to make it all the more incredible.
However, Elysium and Chappie recycled many of the same concepts to lesser effect, his Alien 5 and RoboCop Returns fell by the wayside, while his latest feature Demonic is being widely panned by critics. The filmmaker previously revealed that District 10 would be inspired by American history, and in a new interview he offered more details about what he’s got in store for the project.
“If there’s slightly more stuff happening in the script, then you need slightly more money. But I think it would still be as stripped-down and bare bones as we could make it. That becomes more nimble and more creative, and personally, I like that. There’s no question that you don’t need the expenditure that the big franchise movies use.
But as everything shifts towards at-home streaming with fewer and fewer theatrical releases, I think that the theatrical releases that happen are probably going to be more event-driven, giant spectacles to get people to go to theaters. So I think it actually is economically justifiable to go really big on the stuff that people are going to watch in movie theaters, as a reason to differentiate it from what you’re getting at home. So, yes, it could be more efficient, but I also understand why it’s happening, economically.”
Blomkamp clearly isn’t interested in playing the studio game, and his experimental Oats Studios have established a niche for using cutting-edge technology to tell fantastical stories, while he’s even teased leaving the movie business altogether to focus on video game development. District 9 was packed to bursting point with sociopolitical commentary wrapped in the guise of an action-packed sci-fi thriller, and was clearly reflective of the tension that defined his native South Africa for decades.
It’s not as if America’s past is all sunshine and roses, so there’s plenty to mine for inspiration as the District 10 pieces continue being put into place behind the scenes, even if the finished product could be a long way away.