Neill Blomkamp Talks Ideas for a District 9 Sequel or Prequel
Geoff Boucher of the LA Times' Hero Complex has been running a fantastic interview series with District 9 writer/director Neill Blomkamp, the South African filmmaker who blew away audiences last summer with his mid-budget sci-fi alien movie. Thankfully it was successful enough to warrant a sequel, but of course the question is, do we really need a sequel? In his final interview piece, Boucher talks with Blomkamp about a sequel, a prequel, and other ideas for his future, including his next movie, which will be set in another city (but not in South Africa) 150 years from now and addresses "sociopolitical ideas that interest me." Read on!
It's evident reading this interview that Blomkamp is extremely intelligent and also just a very inspirational filmmaker. For example, in regards to his view on why he makes movies, he says: "Sony has kind of pushed for awards and, really, if I feel like people are watching the film because they are interested in the film, then it's fine. I'm fine with that. But if I feel even remotely like I'm being asked to be a salesman, I have a problem." As we all know, the big problem with Hollywood these days is that almost everyone is a hack, directing adaptations of crazy things like Battleship just for the money, not for artistic or creative benefit.
So what of a sequel to District 9? Well, before we get into that, Blomkamp does confirm that he "definitely [has] input into it. Ultimately the person with the most control is Peter [Jackson], but I for sure would have some influence over whether that happens or not." So what are his ideas for a District 9 sequel / prequel?
"The concept of aliens in Johannesburg is such an appealing idea to me and the issues of race and how they meet. All of the things that I had going on with it. I wouldn't mind messing around with it again. I'm open to it if the story works and there's a reason to do it. And [Copley's character] Wikus is so funny to me, I'm very interested in a sort of passive racist like that. If you go forward [with his story beyond "District 9"] it's more of a traditional film but if you go backward I'd be intrigued in that. I'm not so interested in aliens coming back and blowing things up but [a prequel] might be interesting."
So what it sounds like, if they make a sequel to District 9, is that it will instead be a prequel, and they won't make a sequel. As much as I'd love to see Christopher come back with a whole race of aliens to kick the shit out of MNU, it sounds like we won't ever get to see that. But my problem with a prequel is that at this point we already have the origin story and we already know everything about what happened. I hate seeing a story that connects with the original film where they then have to use some cliche method of covering up why we didn't know about this in the original. Though, I do trust Blomkamp and Jackson enough not to screw it up.
And speaking of Blomkamp's future, we know he came from potentially directing the Halo movie to District 9, but what else has he been offered since then. We've heard he's been offered pretty much everything, but he admits that he's declined almost all of the offers, and is sticking with his own original sci-fi project next.
"I've been offered films – a lot of films, in fact – with seriously high budgets, and I've turned them all down. The reason is exactly what you said earlier: Once the budgets get bigger, you can't do what you want as a director, unless you're Peter Jackson or James Cameron. And even then, the pressure is still on the filmmaker. Even if the studio isn't clamping down on you, all the pressure is on the director. And if you screw that up, the jeopardy situation is even worse. The way you don't get yourself in that jeopardy situation is by making films that aren't as risky financially. I just want to make films that have enough of a budget to pull off high-level imagery but also have a budget that is low enough that I can do what I want.
That's a fantastic response and I truly admire Blomkamp for sticking with his beliefs and declining offers so that he can continue to make films exactly the way he wants. It just goes to show that you don't really need a bigger budget to make a better movie (although I'd say we already learned that with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen anyway). I've already expressed my thoughts on a District 9 sequel before, but this time we have some actual quotes from Blomkamp that tell us where they're headed. So just like Cloverfield, District 9 will remain a great movie on its own until Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp decide to make that prequel.