A long-awaited sequel to Neill Blomkamp’s debut film District 9 is now in the works. On Twitter, the director announced that he, fellow screenwriter (and wife) Terri Tatchell, and actor Sharlto Copley have begun writing the screenplay for District 10.
— Neill Blomkamp (@NeillBlomkamp) February 26, 2021
The 2009 film is Blomkamp’s feature debut, based on his own short film, Alive in Joburg, which he released in 2006. It’s set in Johannesburg, South Africa decades after an alien ship arrives on Earth with a cargo of dying insectoid aliens. The aliens are given refuge in a camp called District 9, and over the years, have an uneasy relationship with their neighboring humans.
At the start of the film, the South African government brings in a private military contractor known as Multinational United to relocate the aliens to a new camp. During the planned relocation, an MNU bureaucrat named Wikus van de Merwe is infected with an alien substance, which begins transforming him into one of the aliens. He’s forced to go on the run, aided by an alien named Christopher, who’s desperately searching for a way to reactivate their mothership and evacuate his people from Earth.
The film was an unexpected success at the box office, and was well-received by critics and audiences, who praised the story and visuals. The movie did attract some significant criticism from the Nigerian government and individuals, who condemned the film’s portrayal of Nigerians. Notably, her anger over District 9‘s depiction prompted science fiction author Nnedi Okorafor to write her acclaimed first contact novel Lagoon.
Since the film’s release, there has been constant speculation as to whether Blomkamp will follow up with a sequel—he left the ending of the film ambiguous, with Christopher escaping in the mothership, promising to return with help, and Wikus left behind, still in alien form, hoping that he’ll be transformed back into a human.
Blomkamp moved on to other projects in the years since: He directed and released two additional feature films, Elysium and Chappie, and launched an independent studio focused on experimental projects known as Oats Studios, where he’s released a handful of shorter projects that he hoped to scale up into longer films. He’s also recently completed a horror film called Demonic, and has another project, Inferno, in the works.
But returning to the world of District 9 has never strayed from his mind. A couple of years ago, he told me in an interview for Verge that he planned “on making another film in that world,” and later noted on Reddit that he’d be focusing on “tell[ing] rest of the story with Wikus and Christopher,” but that he needed to find “the exact right REASON to make” the film in the first place. Now, it looks like he’s found that reason, and is finally taking the first steps towards making that return journey.