Neill Blomkamp has expressed interest in returning to the world of Elysium. The filmmaker burst on the scene in 2009 with District 9, which earned rave reviews, $210 million at the box office and a Best Picture nomination on a $30 million budget. Unfortunately, his follow-up, the Matt Damon-starring Elysium, is less well-regarded. He's previously opened up about the film's problems and taken ownership of them, particularly how he was too enamored with the concept of class structure obliquely presented by a space ring distracted focus from the complete picture.
That idea of proving and developing concepts is at the core of his new enterprise, Oats Studios. The filmmaking lab, which is currently releasing its Volume 1 series of shorts, is a way for the director to play with various high-concepts and realize them in twenty-minute films that could - should they prove popular with the audience - be made into full features.
When Screen Rant talked with Blomkamp recently to discuss Oats, we asked him if he felt Elysium would have benefitted from a similar approach. The director definitely seemed to think so, and admitted that he was still interested in exploring the core idea, possibly in a future movie:
"Elysium is more something I feel like I could have done better. I think that if you were to take something like Elysium and play with it inside a setting like this you probably would hone it - you would end up, I think, with something well thought through and that has all of the thematic elements that I wanted. I still love the set up to Elysium. The idea of the separation of class warfare presented with this space ring is incredibly appealing to me and I would love to go back and make another movie in the world of Elysium because it's compelling. I just think I can do a better job in setting up what the themes are more clearly and what the character's motivations are. I can do it better, I think."
The alternate, honed version of Elysium is very much the selling point of Oats, which reveals a lot about Blomkamp's current view of film development, echoed by his suggestion of making another film in that world. He certainly seemed keen to re-explore that concept despite all the new ideas emerging from Oats, although how feasible that would be is unclear. It'd be unlikely for TriStar to greenlight a sequel, but Blomkamp getting the rights to fund a related work through Oats is similarly tricky. For now, it may have to remain a pure concept.
In the same conversation, we also discussed Chappie, Blomkamp's follow-up to Elysium that was met with even weaker reviews and tepid box office attention. The director recently said the film's backlash was unbelievably painful, although he was keen to point out his problems with that experience were very different to what happened on the previous film:
"Just to clear that up. Chappie was never something that I said I would have done differently. It was actually the opposite with Chappie. It's that despite everything negative that happened with that film I will stand by the way that I made it. For me as the creator of it, I feel did exactly I had in my head. Whether I deserved criticism for it or not, I feel like I got it right."
He'd made similar suggestions previously, but in the wake of those previous comments seemed keen to clarify that he was personally still happy with the film and that the disappointment came from its reaction and what that meant. We went on to talk about the film's re-evaluation among some audiences, and how he felt about that:
"I mean I hope that happens. I obviously have absolutely no control over how the audiences respond to anything I make, but I know as an artist making the piece that I feel like either did what I had I had and I stuck true to it and I got it the way I wanted to, or I didn't. And I know that I feel like Chappie was done in the way I wanted it to be done. That means if audiences come around to it and people begin to respond to it then I would love that. I'm all for that. I can't control what happens."
Whether or not Chappie gets a full reappraisal is unclear, but given the strength and reaction to the latest Oats work, it won't be too long until Blomkamp's back behind the camera of a full feature.