‘Elysium’ Director Neill Blomkamp Felt Lucky After ‘Halo’ Movie Failure

Published 2 years ago by , Updated August 6th, 2013 at 1:40 pm,

Halo Master Chief Elysium Director Neill Blomkamp Felt Lucky After Halo Movie Failure

The plot of director Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi sleeper hit District 9 seems to unfold uncannily like that of a video game, with a main character who starts out on one side of a war but eventually finds himself fighting his former allies. All this is due to an alien infection in his hand that causes him to gradually mutate, unlocking new abilities and weapon skills along the way and transforming from a somewhat weedy pencil-pusher into a force to be reckoned with. This might have something to do with the fact that District 9 was the film that Blomkamp made after Fox and Universal got cold feet on his planned movie adaptation of the Halo video game franchise.

A live-action Halo adaptation is now on the way in one form, as an Xbox One-exclusive TV show produced by Steven Spielberg (though the extent to which Spielberg will actually be involved is unclear). Blomkamp also managed to quite easily rise from the ashes of his Halo movie with the low-budget, highly successful District 9, which was made with the help of Peter Jackson and The Hobbit producer Fran Walsh.

It seems strange to think of someone’s career being launched by a movie that died in development hell, but in an interview with the LA Times Blomkamp expresses few regrets about losing Halo. In fact, the director found that its failure to launch was a valuable learning experience, and has since shaped the way he approaches filmmaking in the wake of District 9‘s success:

“The luck is the fact that Peter and Fran let me make ['District 9'] out of the ruins that were ‘Halo.’ What happened out of that was learning to trust my ideas. If ‘Halo’ had come out and succeeded or failed, I wouldn’t have learned that.”

After District 9, Blomkamp says that the offers for big-budget movies began to come in thick and fast, but because of his experiences with Halo he had attained a natural wariness of Hollywood in general, and of franchises where he would be required to build on or adapt existing stories with studio pressure to make them in a certain way:

“It’s getting to the point now where [my agent] just doesn’t send me stuff anymore. It’s not because I think I’m better than any of that stuff. There are many franchises out there I would love to participate in. The problem is when you agree to do that, you take a lot of the control that you have over your own creative destiny away from yourself.”

District 9 Neil Blomkamp Elysium Director Neill Blomkamp Felt Lucky After Halo Movie Failure

District 9‘s lead Sharlto Copley has also seen his career take off since the success of the film, and Blomkamp found a place for him in Elysium as well, as a dangerous mercenary living planetside. In the starring role as Max, a worker who is hit with radiation poisoning and plots to find a way onto Elysium in order to cure himself, is major Hollywood star Matt Damon, who recalls that during their first meeting Blomkamp was exceedingly wary, as though he was “inviting a 400 pound gorilla into his laboratory.”

Whether or not Elysium will be a worthy follow-up to District 9 remains to be seen, but Blomkamp’s words raise some interesting questions about the direction his career might take in the future, and whether he is likely to work on any more franchise material or simply stick with original ideas like his upcoming sci-fi comedy Chappie. Give your thoughts in the comments on what kind of movies you’d like to see Blomkamp making.


Elysium is out in theaters on August 9, 2013. The Halo TV series doesn’t yet have a release date, but will most likely arrive some time in 2014.

Source: LA Times

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
TAGS: Elysium, Halo
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  1. He would have definitely been the man to have made a epic Halo movie.

  2. I like his independent bent and at the same time it is unfortunate. He is what Hollywood has sorely needed but that is also the problem with his approach; it keeps directors like him out of big Hollywood productions and we are left with hack directors who only do what a tone deaf Hollywood studio wants – no questions asked. I would love for Neill Blomkamp to take on a project like Green Lantern but he is too smart to get involved with a studio that is going to interfere with his vision and the studios are too dumb to let him offer a refreshing new take on a known character. So everybody loses!

    • I agree. Sad but true.

      Though once in a while Hollywood lets a visionary director go where he (or she) wants to with a big film and it pays off.

      • I enjoyed District 9, but I’m trying to avoid the Blomkamp hype train. I’ll reserve judgement of his talents for after I see Elysium. Who knows, maybe the technical aspects will be done superbly but the story might suck. I’m gonna try to maintain a healthy amount of skepticism until I see more of his work. Hopefully he’s not a one hit wonder.

        • So what about Chris Nolan? He has done really good work within the studio system and is now touching legacy franchises like Superman. The same goes for Zach Snyder who, cynasism aside, is a pretty decent action director who tries to be visually distinct from others like Michael Bay.

    • the problem with your green lantern idea is that it could work out well. the hell’s the matter with you, not pulling for extreme studio micro managing?

  3. At least it’s not a sequel

  4. Blomkamp’s massive talent was going to get him work, thankfully the early work with the WingNuts on Halo led them to champion him through his first project.

    Otherwise he might of had to “come up” through the system – a process which destroys a lot of talented people.

  5. This guy should be doing terminator especially future war scenes or if it took place during the war.

    • Yeah but he’d need to have full control over the content of the movie because he seems to prefer personal projects with a social message that he can fully control form beginning to end.

  6. Star Wars Episode VIII is out of the equation then?

  7. Elysium has the potential to effect Blomkamp’s future as a director in the same ways Inception did for Nolan.
    Even after the success of the 1st 2 Batman films nobody was really sure how Inception would be received but when it was a critical and huge box-office success it opened doors for more “original” ideas like Interstellar.
    So if Elysium can some how equal or come close to that kind of reception Blomkamp might not have to do anything franchise related for the forseable future.
    The biggest hurdle IMO is the August release. Yeah, it’s technically still a summer release but by now a lot of people have burned through the disposable cash they have for movies or just may be a bit tired of the blockbuster season so even if the movie is amazing it probably won’t make a ton of money.

  8. If he had done Halo, we wouldn’t have gotten Forward Unto Dawn, and that was one fine piece of film making.

  9. I like this story and it’s bits of interview much more than what was put out when he turned down Star Wars. That article made it seem like he was above such ventures. This one makes much more sense in his reasoning and even the most die hard of any franchise fan can understand. He wants to make his films a certain way and studios often get in the way. Interestingly, in a Star Wars connection, that was George Lucas’ main focus back when he made the original trilogy. He wanted to stay away from the studios as much as possible. Hopefully Blomkamp can just avoid Lucas’ later career mistakes and not surround himself with yes men.

  10. this is like when inception released, and some WB exec was literally patting himself and the studio on the back for producing a successful original film. but the guy likely dodged any and all questions regarding original talent and ideas these execs help contaminate and bury by the boat load.

  11. I can respect Neil Blomkamp…I hope Eysium is highly successful…Ive been more excited about this movie then almost all of the movies that have come out in 2013…minus Pacific Rim & Man of Steel.

  12. I think a Halo movie would have been great, even bigger than District 9. Looking forward to the remake, i think that Halo has the power to become a top franchise, like Avengers or Superman.