District 9 was the surprise cinematic hit of 2009 but, ten years later, a sequel has yet to go into production. Here are the reasons behind the District 9 sequel delay and why fans might still have cause for hope.
South African director Neill Blomkamp's debut feature was certainly an ambitious beast. The story, written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, blended social allegory with science fiction, and explored the premise of an alien spacecraft appearing over Johannesburg. Rather than waging full-scale invasion or demanding to be taken to Earth's leader however, these other-worldly beings were weak, ill and seeking refuge. The majority of District 9 takes place several years later, with the aliens now segregated into camps, and sees a human bureaucrat (Sharlto Copley's Wikus) slowly transform into one of the extra-terrestrial "Prawns" after contracting an infection.
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A debut feature such as this might have never cracked the mainstream, but with producer Peter Jackson's name on the poster, District 9 went on to earn over seven times its budget at the box office and critical reaction was hugely positive; it even earned a Best Picture Oscar nomination. With such great success behind it and a deeply intriguing fictional world to continue exploring, a District 9 sequel seemed like a no-brainer but, ten years later, there remains no official announcement on a follow-up.
Neill Blomkamp Has Wanted To Make A District 9 Sequel For A Decade
Usually, when a successful low-budget original movie fails to spawn a sequel, the director is part of the reason, with the self-respecting auteur staunchly refusing to dilute the strength of their film with a major studio, big budget follow-up. This is not the case with District 9 and Neill Blomkamp. Immediately following the film's release, Blomkamp was stating in interviews that he was open to the idea of a sequel if the first movie performed well and people wanted more. The director has continued to reaffirm this stance throughout the years once that interest was clear.
However, despite Blomkamp's willingness to make a District 9 sequel, the movie wasn't actually written with a franchise in mind and this means that while the director is more than willing to develop a sequel, he didn't have a solid story idea ready to work on. Blomkamp has confirmed this in several interviews and has also publicly mooted the possibility of both a follow-up and a prequel film. Indeed, it wasn't until 2013 that Blomkamp revealed he had a firm treatment for what he referred to as District 10.
Neill Blomkamp Has A Lot Of Other Projects Before A District 9 Sequel
While Blomkamp has often stated his desire to make a District 9 sequel, he's usually qualified this by explaining that such a film would only happen after the other movies on his slate had been completed. District 9 may have hit theaters a decade ago, but Blomkamp has swiftly moved from project to project ever since, leaving little time to develop a follow-up. This is perhaps the most significant reason behind the lack of a sequel.
Following District 9, Blomkamp moved straight into working on the Matt Damon-fronted Elysium and that same year, began developing Chappie. Since then, the director has worked on an unreleased Alien movie, established his own production company and cast Chris Evans in forthcoming thriller, Greenland. Most recently, Blomkamp signed on to direct a new Robocop film, stacking up his schedule for the foreseeable future. The director may have always spoken positively with regards to the possibility of a District 9 sequel but has also demonstrated a desire to prioritize fresh projects.
A District 9 Sequel Could Still Happen
Despite no official word on a District 9 continuation, fans have plenty of reason to keep the faith, as long as Blomkamp's desire to make another film in that universe remains strong. The issue likely boils down to when a big enough gap will emerge in the director's schedule. Since Blomkamp has previously claimed that any potential District 10 would take roughly three years to complete from start to finish, the sequel would perhaps be looking at a 2022 release at the earliest.
Of course, this begs the question of whether a gap of over ten years could hurt the success of a District 9 sequel. The world of cinema has certainly seen bigger gaps - the 35-year wait for Blade Runner 2049 for instance - but these films have either belonged to major franchises or developed a cult following that cultured popularity through several generations. District 9 doesn't quite fall into either category just yet and Neill Blomkamp may be tempted to wait a while longer before bringing back the Prawns of Johannesburg.