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District 10 - What We Know So Far

Back in 2009, South African cinema got a brief moment in the spotlight when Neill Blomkamp's short film, Alive in Joburg, got the feature length treatment. It was the result of a wild confluence of events — producer Peter Jackson was working to adapt Halo into a feature film with Blomkamp's help at the time, but behind the scenes drama led to the project being scrapped, with elements of the production being repurposed for a story about apartheid in the age of giant alien crickets. The result was the Academy Award-nominated District 9, one of the best received pieces of big screen science fiction of its generation.

Utilizing a found-footage aesthetic and set under a wafer-thin veil of political commentary, District 9 gave international audiences 112 minutes of hard-to-ignore allegory. Helpfully, it also wowed critics and did gangbusters business, setting box office records for a South African movie with its $210 million take. More than a decade later, all of this begs the question – why haven't we seen a District 9 sequel yet?

The wait might be over soon. Neill Blomkamp took to Twitter on February 25, 2021, to let fans know that a return to the Prawn camps could be coming. Details are still thin on the ground, but here's what we know so far.

When will District 10 touch down?

The long and short of it is that District 10 is probably a long ways off, but there hasn't been any specific announcement regarding what kind of a time frame we're looking at yet.

Neill Blomkamp has been teasing a District 9 sequel since before District 9 came out. He told SyFy back in 2009 that "If (District 9) is successful, if audiences want another, whatever, District 10, I would love to do it (...) It's a very personal film, and it's a universe and a place that I find incredibly creative. I'd love to go back to that universe." He continued to hint at a sequel over the years, never giving a firm answer when asked for a release date.

At present, the closest thing we have to a clue is Blomkamp's usual grind. To date, he's directed four films, each between two and six years apart from the last — 2009's District 9, 2013's Elysium, 2015's Chappie, and the upcoming 2021 horror picture Demonic. At best, District 10 would appear to be a couple of years off. 

Who's in the cast of District 10?

It's still early days for the follow-up to District 9, and casting news is still a long way off. Still, there's one performer that fans can safely put money on seeing again: Sharlto Copley, the star of the first movie and the short film it was based on, Alive in Joburg.

Copley has historically gone with Blomkamp movies like jelly with peanut butter. After appearing in Alive in Joburg and District 9, he had substantial roles in the director's other big budget productions. He co-starred in 2013's Elysium alongside Matt Damon and provided a performance for the visual effects team to reference as the eponymous robot in Chappie. In Blomkamp's tweet announcing the script for a new District 9 picture, he credited Copley as a co-writer.

When last we saw Copley's District 9 character, Wikus van de Merwe, he'd been transfigured into an alien through the power of science fiction weirdness. Bringing him back to the universe would mean either a return to fleshy human existence by means of equally sci-fi means, or another CGI-covered performance like in Chappie. Either way, he's a powerhouse actor who's been criminally underutilized in the years since the first film, and it would be great to see him back on the job, exoskeletal or otherwise.

What's the plot of District 10?

Obviously, the brief announcement of a work-in-progress script doesn't give us a lot to go on, but we can pick up a few hints from what we've already heard.

Speaking to SyFy in 2009, Blomkamp was asked about a possible sequel — more specifically, if it would revolve around Christopher and his insectine pals making a return trip to Earth in pursuit of E.T. 2-style vengeance. "I do have ideas rattling around in my head," Blomkamp told the interviewer, "and weirdly enough they're not to do with what you just said."

What we can glean from the plot of the first movie is that District 10 will be an even bleaker affair than its predecessor. In the first film, District 10 is described as an even less comfortable, entirely segregated area for housing our alien guests, a place more like an internment camp than a ghetto. Designated as the new, government-enforced home to the Prawns, it's said to house 2.5 million extraterrestrials and counting. The opportunities for fresh political metaphors are astonishingly easy pickings.

Alternatively, maybe District 10 will be a nice story about everyone getting along and Wikus starting a metal flower shop in Pretoria with his new wife, Charlene. You just never know. For now, stay tuned.