In July 2009, South African director Neill Blomkamp went from relative unknown to sci-fi’s rising star. That was the month District 9 hit theaters, raising moviegoers’ hopes for more genre movies that tackled big questions. But although Blomkamp has worked steadily since those days, he has never returned to the world that made him famous.
However, Blomkamp has not given up hope. While chatting with the site Dexerto about his new battle royale game Off the Grid, Blomkamp gave an update on his planned District 9 sequel: “I am still working on it.”
This certainly isn’t the first time that the director has shared hopes for a sequel to his best movie. Even before District 9 came out, Blomkamp promised SyFy, “If this film is successful, if audiences want another, whatever, District 10, I would love to do it.” As recently as last year, Blomkamp dropped more information, telling IGN, “There was a topic in American history that the second I realized that that fit into the world of District 9, it felt like an awesome way to do a sequel.”
Although we do not know yet what that topic is, American history could provide plenty of inspiration for Blomkamp. The original film draws directly from the director’s native South Africa and used an alien storyline to examine issues of apartheid. District 9 starred Sharlto Copley as Wikus van der Merwe, a white South African functionary assigned to relocate harmless aliens — called “Prawns” — from their shantytown in Johannesburg. But after being exposed to an alien fuel, Wikus finds himself transforming into a Prawn, becoming subject to the same harassment that he doled out to others.
Blomkamp and co-writer Terri Tatchell earned praise for their mixture of sci-fi action and real-world politics. The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and Best Film Editing.
Since then, Blomkamp has continued working in the sci-fi genre but has yet to repeat the success of his first film. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster joined a returning Copley for 2013’s Elysium, which involved class divisions on an artificial planet. The film earned positive reviews from critics and made money at the box office, but it did not live up to the expectations set by District 9.
Copely also starred in 2015’s Chappie, alongside Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman, and members of the punk rap duo Die Antwoord. Although the movie made more than double its budget worldwide, encouraging Blomkamp to consider two more sequels, the overwhelmingly negative reviews canceled further plans. Blomkamp’s 2021 horror film Demonic fared no better, in part because of a release schedule hampered by the pandemic.
As this look at his filmography indicates, District 9 remains Blomkamp’s most important movie. It’s no wonder that he’s taking his time while working on it. As of right now, we still don’t know exactly when that work will be completed. “[I]t’s within the near future,” he told Dextero, filling genre fans with hope once again.