A select few people and some who were lucky enough to win tickets had a chance to screen the film, District 9 on Thursday night. I was not one of them.

District 9 has been something I’ve been following closely for a while now, since tidbits of information about it started appearing online about the movie whose creative team was originally supposed to bring us the Halo film adaptation of the super-successful video game franchise.

As the second segment of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s panel (the first segment being a panel on Legion), we were introduced to the amazing Peter Jackson who is making his first ever appearance at Comic-Con.

The first thing he did when coming out on stage was start a lengthy discussion to update us on the status on The Hobbit and to explain in detail where they are in the process, that they have no announcements and why, and to end the rampant rumors and speculation online. He said in about two months once the script and budget have been sorted out, they will be able to start making offers to actors.

Joining Peter Jackson on stage were writer/director Neill Blomkamp and lead actor Sharlto Copley. It’s important to note that this is Sharlto’s first time in a feature film lead actor role. From everything we’ve seen, he’s done an incredible job. Expect a bright future for this actor.

Without wasting any time, once the panel members were introduced, they went moved straight into showing the crowd seven minutes of never-before-seen footage (to those who hadn’t seen the special screening the night before, that is…).

It started, but the trailer for Legion from the first half of the Sony presentation came up instead, and they quickly stopped it. The crowd laughed and cheered and the director played it off saying that’s all the footage they had. As they queued up the correct reel to show us, they took the time to talk to Jackson about the canceled Halo project.


Panel Members: Peter Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Niell Blomkamp [Click to Enlarge]

After a few minutes, we were ready for another try and we watched the seven minutes of footage. In short, it was incredible. It included many scenes we didn’t expect and knew nothing about and it looked beautiful. It makes absolutely no sense that this movie was made on a $30 million budget because it is loaded with insanely realistic and awesome special effects.

After the footage played, the host began the discussion by asking director Blomkamp what made him decide to do this film in the pseudo-doc style that he did. He responded:

“I think the main reason for wanting to do that is because I really like the idea of science fiction that feels real and because I like sci-fi so much and I knew I wanted to make a science fiction film.

I wanted to see it in a way that felt as realistic and grounded as possible. So, in order to do that I thought using some sort of real life footage, whether it’s news footage or handheld documentary filmmaking or security cameras – as much real stuff that we associate as the real real media world and not film-making would help ground it and make it feel real.”

Other questions involved the insect design of the aliens which was inspired by the idea that these aliens are drones who are lost, as they have lost their queen of sorts. Because of the nature of that, they ended up with the insect design which I think works perfectly as something nontraditional, realistic and more believable.

As for the budget, Peter Jackson explains that with a large studio budget you lose your freedom of creativity. With an inflated budget, you are restricted and forced to play it safe for a specific demographic. But with a low budget, you’re gearing it to those who truly care and others who join in the fun are a bonus and we get somethign unique.

The panel was great and Jackson, Copley and Blomkamp all spoke incredibly well. From what I’ve seen myself and from the unbelievably amazing reviews coming from the special screening Thursday night, this film is an must-see!

District 9 opens August 14, 2009 and you all need to see it.