Neill Blomkamp has a number of canceled and unmade movies, so why didn't they happen? Blomkamp started off his directing career with District 9, which was a huge hit with critics and audiences alike, marking him out as the new bright young talent to watch, and generating a lot of buzz over what his next film would be.
Unfortunately, things haven't quite worked out as hoped for Blomkamp after District 9, with subsequent releases bringing increased budgets but otherwise diminishing returns: Elysium received average to positive reviews, and grossed $286 million against a budget of $115m, while Chappie received more mixed-to-negative reviews, grossing $102 million with a budget of $49m. Released in 2015, that marks Blomkamp's last feature film to date, with nothing new on the horizon right now.
That's a sign of his stock rapidly rising and falling, but it's also not for a lack of trying. Neill Blomkamp has been attached to some major franchises over the past few years, and invested time in developing those projects, only for them to not come off. That's left him with a slate of unmade films, although each has a clear reason for not happening.
It was revealed back in January 2018 that RoboCop writer Ed Neumeier was penning a follow-up to the 1987 original, and a few months later Neill Blomkamp officially signed on to direct RoboCop Returns. The film was slated to be a direct continuation of the original movie, which would ignore both sequels and the remake from 2014. Blomkamp was looking to make his RoboCop movie as close to the first as possible, even confirming he'd be using the original suit, and that he wanted it to feel as though Paul Verhoeven was directing it.
Given these updates spanned the course of a year, it seemed as though all was going well, but just a few weeks after his comment on the suit, Neill Blomkamp announced he was no longer directing RoboCop, and instead was focusing on making a horror movie instead. Because of that, he had to depart RoboCop Returns, with Blomkamp simply stating on Twitter that "MGM can’t wait/ need to shoot Robocop now." It seems as though there are no hard feelings, and that Blomkamp simply received an opportunity he couldn't pass up. RoboCop Returns is still set to happen, although a new director is now needed.
Alien 5 is perhaps the most well-known of Neill Blomkamp's unmade movies, with the director first teasing his involvement in the Alien franchise back in February 2015, posting concept art of his ideas for Alien 5 on Instagram, and stating a desire to have Sigourney Weaver reprise her role as Ripley, having worked with her on Chappie. The film was soon made official, with Blomkamp confirming it'd be his next project, and Alien 5 slated to be a sequel to Aliens, rather than interfering with Ridley Scott's prequel series. Scott himself confirmed that Alien 5 would release sometime in 2017, but it was then shelved in October 2015 in favor of Alien: Covenant, and although Blomkamp continued to reveal concept art from the project, he eventually admitted that chances of it happening were "slim".
By May 2017, following the release of Alien: Covenant, plans for both Alien 5 and Scott's own films were shelved by 20th Century Fox. Scott has said that Blomkamp's Alien movie didn't have a script, just a 10-page outline, and Blomkamp himself has said he's moved on from the film. Weaver, however, was a huge fan of Blomkamp's vision, which would've replaced Alien 3 in the timeline and brought back Ripley, Newt, and Hicks, and so too was James Cameron, who earlier this year hinted he was trying to revive the project. With Disney's takeover of Fox, there is a future for Alien, either on the big screen or TV, but it doesn't sound like Blomkamp's Alien 5 is a part of it.
Halo is the first of Blomkamp's canceled projects, and would've been his debut feature film had all gone to plan. Microsoft started developing a Halo movie back in 2005, with Alex Garland tapped to write the script, Peter Jackson brought on to produce, and Guillermo del Toro in talks to direct. When del Toro backed out, Blomkamp was drafted in, having impressed with a series of short films set in the Halo universe and previously worked with Jackson.
The script went through the re-write stage - with would-be Game of Thrones co-creator D.B. Weiss among the writers tackling it - and Blomkamp spending months in troubled pre-production, which frequently stopped and started again, with the director's vision completely clashing with Microsoft and 20th Century Fox, who had been backing the movie alongside Universal. When Fox pulled out the funding for the movie was lost, and the Halo movie totally collapsed. It was expected that it would've been an adaptation of the original Halo video game, but Blomkamp and Microsoft have both moved on, with a Halo TV series now in the works, while Blomkamp continues to work on short films through his Oats Studios, which he launched in 2017.
The Gone World
Neill Blomkamp signed on to direct The Gone World in 2015, with the movie set as an adaptation of author Tom Sweterlitsch's then-upcoming novel of the same name. It was earmarked as Blomkamp's next film after the cancelation of Alien 5, with the book described as a "sci-fi time-travel procedural", with Blomkamp looking to write as well as direct. However, there was little word on the project until 2017, when Blomkamp revealed that he was ready to start work on the project, having received a copy of the book (which wasn't published until early-2018).
Things seem to have gone cold again since then though, with no updates on the project recently. Since the film was in development at 20th Century Fox, that puts its future at risk. Disney has purchased Fox and are intent on beginning with a clean slate, already canceling a number of major movies that were in the early stages of planning. It's unconfirmed whether or not The Gone World is amongst them, but with so many years in development and little movement, it doesn't look like it's going to happen. Blomkamp stated in the RoboCop news he's shooting a "new horror/thriller", and The Gone World does fall into the latter genre, but it's also not exactly a new film either. If he were pressing ahead with the film now, he'd be more likely to say so, and instead it seems like it's scrapped or at least stuck in development hell, and it remains to be seen what Neill Blomkamp's next film will be.