Writer/director Neil Blomkamp is headed back home to South Africa, where he will set to work on a new sci-fi-themed project titled Chappie. This motion picture, similar to Blomkamp's feature-length breakout hit District 9, will be a low-budget (loose) adaptation of one of his previously-released short films. In this case, the source movie-short is a satirical pseudo-advertisement centered around a crime-fighting robot called "Tetra Vaal" (you can watch the clip above), whereas the full-length cinematic version will be a comedy... of sorts.
Sony Pictures Entertainment and MRC issued a press release about Chappie just last week, which revealed that Blomkamp intends to commence with principal photography on the project during Fall 2013, while drawing from a script that he co-penned with his wife Terri Tatchell (the duo previously wrote District 9 together). The movie has now been slated to hit theaters in Spring 2015, giving it a solid head-start before that year's Summer Blockbuster Season gets properly underway.
Chappie, in reference to which Blomkamp recently told I Am Rant "I don’t know if I’d describe it as a comedy... but it has funny elements to it," will open in theaters on March 27th, 2015. So far, the only additional movie scheduled to be released in theaters that same day is the DreamWorks Madagascar franchise spinoff The Penguins of Madagascar, though that should change by the time 2015 rolls around. (Case in point: Universal is moving ahead with a sequel to writer/director/star Seth MacFarlane's Ted and is looking to release the R-Rated comedy followup as early as a week after Chappie arrives on the scene.)
The decision to release Chappie during the less-cramped month of March reads as being a wise decision on Sony's part, all the more so at this point in time. Meaning, now that Blomkamp's sophomore full-length feature as director - the futuristic sci-fi/social allegory flick Elysium - has done moderately well, yet failed to either outperform or even match District 9's box office gross, it's fair to say: Blomkamp's name alone isn't as bankable (yet) as some might've expected it to be, post-D9.
Therefore, it will be all the more important for Chappie to impress audiences with its marketing, considering it doesn't have someone like Elysium headliner Matt Damon to fall back on as a selling point. Instead, Blomkamp's new film is going to be headlined by South African Zef counter-cultural rave-rap duo Ninja and Yolandi Visser - who, for many people here in the States, might as well be unknowns - as a pair of gangsters who steal a robot (voiced by D9 and Elysium's Sharlto Copley) equipped with artificial intelligence
Both early Spring and March in general have started to become a (if you will pardon the wording) springboard for movies like Chappie; that is, those films that come with built-in demand - yet, they are not quite strong enough to duke it out with the big bruisers of the Summer (see: 300: Rise of an Empire and Muppets Most Wanted, each of which are slated to open in theaters in March of 2014).
Complaints about Elysium aside, the sci-fi feature (like District 9) shows that Blomkamp is a filmmaker with a knack for creative sci-fi world building; not to mention, he invests a lot of passion and thought into his projects, even when the final result is not as coherent or effective as desirable. Here is to hoping that Chappie not only proves that Blomkamp can produce more quality original content, but also that the film ends up being well-served by its Spring launch date - before we get inundated with sequels later in 2015 (see: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic Park 4, Star Wars: Episode VII, etc., etc.).
Be sure and let us know what your initial feelings about Chappie are, based on the plot and cast details revealed so far.
Chappie opens in U.S. theaters on March 27th, 2015.
Source: Sony Pictures Entertainment