District 9 is a science fiction thriller film released in 2009, directed by Neill Blomkamp. It was written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, and produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham. The film stars Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope and David James. Copley plays the role of Wikus van de Merwe, an Afrikaner bureaucrat assigned to relocate a race of extraterrestrial creatures unexpectedly stranded on Earth, derogatorily referred to as "prawns", from District 9, a military-guarded slum in Johannesburg, South Africa, to an internment camp outside the city. The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2010, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and Best Editing.
The story, adapted from Alive in Joburg, a 2005 short film directed by Blomkamp and produced by Copley, pivots on the themes of xenophobia and social segregation. The title and premise of District 9 were inspired by events that took place in District Six, Cape Town during the apartheid era. The film was produced for $30 million and shot on location in Chiawelo, Soweto, presenting fictional interviews, news footage, and video from surveillance cameras in a part-mock documentary style format. A viral marketing campaign began in 2008, at the San Diego Comic-Con, while the theatrical trailer appeared in July 2009. Released by TriStar Pictures, the film opened to critical acclaim on August 14, 2009, in North America and earned $37 million in its opening weekend. Many saw the film as a sleeper hit for its relatively unknown cast and low-budget production, while achieving success and popularity during its theatrical run.
In March 1982, a large alien mothership comes to Earth, hovering motionless above Johannesburg, South Africa. Reports suggest that the craft became stranded after a command module separated from it and dropped to Earth. After three months, a team breaks into the ship, discovering a group of over a million malnourished insectoid extraterrestrials, who are then given refuge on Earth. The aliens, derogatorily referred to as "prawns", are confined to a government camp inside Johannesburg called District 9. The camp is secured with a massive police presence, and it soon turns into a slum.
In the first decade of the 21st century, the South African government hires Multinational United (MNU), a private military company under the direction of its CEO, Dirk Michaels, to relocate 1.8 million aliens to the new District 10. In 2010, Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a young MNU employee, is appointed by Piet Smit (Dirk Minnaar), an MNU executive to lead the relocation with the serving of illegal eviction notices.
Meanwhile, three aliens (Christopher Johnson (Jason Cope), his son, and a friend), search for alien technology from which they distill a mysterious fluid, storing it in a small canister. Later, while raiding the shack of Christopher's friend, Wikus discovers and seizes the container, accidentally spraying some of the fluid onto his face. Christopher's friend breaks Wikus' left arm as he attempts to escape, and is subsequently killed by Koobus Venter (David James), a soldier leading the operation.
Wikus later starts to feel ill, with black fluid emerging from his nose and his fingernails falling off. That night, he passes out and is taken to a hospital. There, his left forearm is revealed to have mutated into an alien appendage. He is immediately taken into MNU custody, where it is discovered that he can now operate alien weaponry due to his mutating DNA. They force Wikus to test various weapons and subject him to physical torture to answer their quesitions, including forcing him to kill a real-live prawn, much to his horror. The MNU scientists then decide to vivisect Wikus, but he overpowers his captors and escapes. Smit lies to the press, stating that Wikus is infected with an alien STD and highly contagious. He also sends Venter and his men to capture him.
Now a fugitive, Wikus finds refuge in District 9 and eventually seeks help from Christopher. Christopher reveals to Wikus that the canister he was sprayed with is causing the mutation. He also states that the canister would allow him to reactivate the dormant mothership and, using its equipment, he could reverse Wikus's mutation. He then reveals the lost command module hidden under his shack, and agrees to help Wikus if he retrieves the canister from MNU. Wikus reluctantly agrees to the plan, and tries to buy weapons from the local Nigerian gang. There, he is captured and brought before their paralyzed warlord, Obesandjo (Eugene Khumbanyiwa), who seeks to gain Wikus' ability to operate alien weaponry by consuming the infected arm. Wikus manages to grab an alien firearm and escape with a cache of weapons.
Wikus and Christopher break into the MNU offices and successfully retrieve the canister, fleeing back to District 9, with MNU forces in pursuit. Outraged by illegal experiments he saw at the MNU offices Christopher tells Wikus that he will need to seek help for the other aliens before curing him, which would take three years. Enraged, Wikus knocks Christopher unconscious and powers up the command module. Soon after takeoff, the craft is shot by an MNU missile, causing it to crash. Venter and his men then take Wikus and Christopher prisoner. As they attempt to exit District 9, Obesandjo's gang ambushes them and, after an intense firefight, Wikus is taken to Obesandjo.
From the downed command module, Christopher's son activates the mothership and an alien mechanized battle suit located at Obesandjo's camp, which he uses to kill Obesandjo and his men. Meanwhile, Venter captures Christopher as Wikus takes control of the battle suit. Wikus initially flees, but later turns back and rescues Christopher. As the two fight their way to the command console, they both realize that they are overrun. Wikus stays behind and suppresses the MNU soldiers allowing Christopher to safely run ahead to the command module. He promises Wikus that he will return to cure him in three years. Christopher activates a tractor beam in the mothership, lifting the command module towards it. Wikus then manages to kill all the MNU soldiers, except Venter, who manages to wreck the suit. Wounded, and now in a more-advanced state of his mutation, Wikus crawls out of the now wrecked battle suit. As Venter prepares to kill him, several prawns instinctively attack, dismember and devour him to protect their "brother prawn". The mothership leaves Earth as Johannesburg's residents celebrate its departure.
A series of interviews and news broadcasts are shown, with people theorizing about Wikus' whereabouts and whether Christopher would return with the intention to retaliate or reconcile. MNU's illegal experiments on the aliens are exposed, and Wikus' trainee is prosecuted. District 9 is completely demolished after the successful relocation of the entire prawn population to District 10, which now houses over 2.5 million aliens (most likely including Wikus). Wikus's wife, Tania, reveals to have found a metal flower on her doorstep, which gives her hope that her husband is still alive. The film ends in a scrapyard, where Wikus, now fully transformed,District 9 DVD audio narration (Audio Setup -> English Audio Descriptive Service) is seen crafting a flower out of scrap metal.
SharltoCopleyCCJuly09.jpgthumbrightCopley promoting the film at the San Diego Comic-Con in July 2009
* Sharlto Copley as Wikus van de Merwe, the main human protagonist, who is a mild-mannered manager at the MNU Department of Alien Affairs. This was the first time acting professionally in a feature film for Copley, a friend of director Blomkamp.
* Jason Cope as Christopher Johnson, the main alien protagonist. Cope also performed the role of Grey Bradnam, the UKNR Chief Correspondent and all the speaking aliens.
* David James as Colonel Koobus Venter, a PMC mercenary-soldier sent to capture Wikus. He is shown as sadistic and violent, taking pleasure in killing the aliens and treating with violence anyone who opposes him. The film's main antagonist.
* Eugene Khumbanyiwa as Obesandjo, a paralyzed Nigerian warlord. One of the film's secondary antagonists.
* Louis Minnaar as Piet Smit, a director at MNU, and Wikus's father-in-law. He is the one who creates the cover-up that turns Wikus into a fugitive, and tries to turn his daughter against Wikus by saying he had committed adultery with the aliens by having sexual intercourse with them. The film's other secondary antagonist.
* Mandla Gaduka as Fundiswa Mhlanga, Wikus's assistant and trainee during the eviction. At the end of the film he is shown to be prosecuted for uncovering MNU's illegal activities.
* Vanessa Haywood as Tania Smit van de Merwe, Wikus's wife.
* Robert Hobbs as Ross Pienaar.
* Kenneth Nkosi as Thomas, an MNU security guard.
* Nathalie Boltt as Sarah Livingstone, a sociologist at Kempton Park University.
* Sylvaine Strike as Katrina McKenzie, a doctor from the Department of Social Assistance.
* John Sumner as Les Feldman, a MIL engineer.
* Nick Blake as Francois Moraneu, a member of the CIV Engineer Team.
* Jed Brophy as James Hope, the ACU chief of police.
* Vittorio Leonardi as Michael Bloemstein, from the MNU Dept. of Alien Civil Affairs.
* Johan van Schoor as Nicolaas van de Merwe, Wikus's father.
* Marian Hooman as Sandra van de Merwe, Wikus's mother.
* Stella Steenkamp as Phyllis Sinderson, a co-worker of Wikus's.
* Tim Gordon as Clive Henderson, an entomologist at WLG University.
* Jonathan Taylor as the Doctor.
* Nick Boraine as Lieutenant Weldon, Colonel Venter's right-hand man.
Like Alive in Joburg, the short film on which the feature film is based, the setting of District 9 is inspired by historical events that took place in South Africa during the apartheid era, with the film's title particularly referencing District Six. District Six, an inner-city residential area in Cape Town, was declared a "whites only" area by the government in 1966, with 60,000 people forcibly removed and relocated to Cape Flats, 25 km (15 mi) away. The film also refers to contemporary evictions and forced removals to new suburban ghettos in post-apartheid South Africa as well as the resistance of its residents. This includes the high profile attempted forced removal of the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Cape Town to temporary relocation areas in Delft, plus the attempted evictions of Abahlali baseMjondolo and evictions in the shack settlement, Chiawelo, where the film was actually shot. The temporary relocation area dubbed Blikkiesdorp, has also been compared with the District 9 camp earning a front page spread in the Daily Voice.Blikkiesdoprp housingdisaster has become Cape Flats' own...District 9 in the Daily Voice, South Africa, 3 October 2009
The film makes a statement about inhumanity in the irony of Wikus becoming more humane as he becomes less human. Throughout the movie, he becomes more aware of the aliens' plight, eventually helping them escape the planet, even turning on his own species to do so.
Many of the human characters are inhumane and cruel. The MNU employees torture Wikus, Smit thinks little of murdering his own son-in-law and Venter even sadistically states, "I can't believe I get paid to do this" as he attempts to murder Christopher Johnson.
Conversely, Christopher, the main alien character, is shown as encouraging and protective of his young child, angered by the murder of his friend and despondent when he finds the body being dissected in the MNU labs. Realizing that Wikus, in spite of his injuries and advancing condition, is offering to stay behind to defend him, he emphatically restates his promise to return in three years to help him.
Themes of racism and xenophobia are put forward by the movie in the form of speciesism applied to the aliens. The use of the word "prawn" to describe the aliens is a reference to the Parktown prawn, a king cricket species considered a plague in South Africa. Copley has said that the theme is not intended to be the main focus of the work, but rather that it can work at a subconscious level even if it is not noticed.
An underlying theme in District 9 is state reliance on multinational corporations as a government funded enforcement arm. As MNU represents the type of corporation which partners with governments, the negative portrayal of MNU in the film can be seen as a statement about the dangers of governments, particularly in their outsourcing of militaries and bureaucracies to private contractors.
Producer Peter Jackson planned to produce a film adaptation based on the Halo video game franchise with first-time director Neill Blomkamp. Due to lack of financing, the Halo adaptation was placed on hold. Jackson and Blomkamp discussed pursuing alternative projects and eventually chose to produce and direct, respectively, District 9. Blomkamp had previously directed commercials and short films, but District 9 was his first feature film. The director co-wrote the script with Terri Tatchell and chose to film in South Africa, where he was born. In District 9, Tatchell and Blomkamp emulated the world explored in his short film "Alive in Joburg", choosing characters, moments and concepts that they found interesting, and fleshing out these elements for the feature film.
QED International fully financed the production of the independent film, underwriting the negative cost prior to American Film Market (AFM) 2007. At AFM 2007, QED entered into a distribution deal with Sony Pictures under TriStar Pictures for North America and other English-language territories, Korea, Italy, Russia and Portugal.
The film was shot on location in Chiawelo, Soweto during a time of violent unrest in Alexandra, Gauteng and other South African townships involving clashes between native South Africans and Africans born in other countries. The location that portrays District 9 in itself was in fact a real impoverished neighborhood from which people were being forcibly relocated to government-subsidised housing.
Blomkamp said no one film influenced District 9, but cited the 1980s "hardcore sci-fi/action" films such as Alien, Aliens, The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Predator and RoboCop as subconscious influences. The director said, "I don't know whether the film has that feeling or not for the audience, but I wanted it to have that harsh 1980s kind of vibe — I didn't want it to feel glossy and slick."
Because of the amount of hand-held shooting required for the film, the producers and crew decided to shoot using the digital Red One camera. Cinematographer Trent Opaloch used nine digital Red Ones owned by Peter Jackson for primary filming, as well as several Sony EX1 and EX3s.
The aliens in District 9 were designed by Weta Workshop, and the design was executed by Engine. Blomkamp established criteria for the design of the aliens. He wanted the species to be insect-like but also bipedal. The director wanted the audience to relate to the aliens and said of the restriction on the creature design, "Unfortunately, they had to be human-esque because our psychology doesn't allow us to really empathize with something unless it has a face and an anthropomorphic shape. Like if you see something that's four-legged, you think it's a dog; that's just how we're wired... If you make a film about an alien force, which is the oppressor or aggressor, and you don't want to empathize with them, you can go to town. So creatively that's what I wanted to do but story-wise, I just couldn't." Blomkamp originally sought to have Weta Digital design the creatures, but the company was busy with effects for Avatar. The director then decided to choose a Vancouver-based effects company because he anticipated to make films there in the future and because British Columbia offered a tax credit. Blomkamp met with Image Engine and considered them "a bit of a gamble" since the company had not pursued a project as large as a feature film. Aside from the aliens appearing on the operating table in the medical lab, all of them were computer generated by CGI Special Effects., IMDb,
Weta Digital designed the mothership and the drop ship, while the exo-suit and the little pets were designed by The Embassy Visual Effects. Zoic Studios performed overflow 2D work. On-set live special effects were created by MXFX.
The music for District 9 was scored by Canadian composer Clinton Shorter, who spent three weeks preparing for the film. Director Neill Blomkamp wanted a "raw and dark" score, but one that maintained its African roots. This was a challenge for Shorter, who found much of the African music he worked with to be optimistic and joyful. Unable to get the African drums to sound dark and heavy, Shorter used a combination of taiko drums and synthesized instruments for the desired effects, with the core African elements of the score conveyed in the vocals and smaller percussion. Both the score and soundtrack feature music and vocals from Kwaito artists.
Sony Pictures launched a "Humans Only" marketing campaign to promote District 9. Sony's marketing team designed its promotional material to emulate the segregational billboards that appear throughout the film. Billboards, banners, posters, and stickers were thus designed with the theme in mind, and the material was spread across public places such as bus stops in various cities, including "humans only" signs in certain locations and providing toll-free numbers to report "non-human" activity. Promotional material was also presented at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con, advertising the website D-9.com, which had an application presented by the fictional Multi-National United (MNU). The website had a local alert system for Johannesburg (the film's setting), news feeds, behavior recommendations, and rules and regulations. Other viral websites for the film were also launched, including an MNU website with a countdown timer for the film's release, an anti-MNU blog run by fictional alien character Christopher Johnson, and an MNU-sponsored educational website.
District 9 opened in 3,049 theaters in the United States and Canada on August 14, 2009, and the film ranked first at the weekend box office with an opening gross of $37,354,308. Among comparable science fiction films in the past, its opening attendance was slightly less than the 2008 film Cloverfield and the 1997 film Starship Troopers. The audience demographic for District 9 was 64 percent male and 57 percent people 25 years or older. The film stood out as a summer film that generated strong business despite little-known casting. Its opening success was attributed to the studio's unusual marketing campaign. In the film's second weekend, it dropped 49% in revenue while competing against the opening film Inglourious Basterds for the male audience, as Sony Pictures attributed the "good hold" to District 9s strong playability. The film enjoyed similar success in the UK with an opening gross of £2,288,378 showing at 447 screens. , it has grossed an estimated $115,646,235 in the United States and Canada and $83,801,844 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $203,600,000, more than six times its estimated production budget of $30 million.
The film has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes reporting that 90% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on a sample of 240, with an average score of 9.2 out of 10. The website wrote of the consensus, "Technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching, District 9 has action, imagination, and all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic." At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received a score of 81 based on 36 reviews, indicating "Universal Acclaim". On Spill.com it received their highest rating of 'Better Than Sex!'.
Sara Vilkomerson of The New York Observer writes, "District 9 is the most exciting science fiction movie to come along in ages; definitely the most thrilling film of the summer; and quite possibly the best film I've seen all year." Christy Lemire from the Associated Press was impressed by the plot and thematic content, claiming that "District 9 has the aesthetic trappings of science fiction but it's really more of a character drama, an examination of how a man responds when he's forced to confront his identity during extraordinary circumstances." Entertainment Weeklys Lisa Schwarzbaum described it as "... madly original, cheekily political, altogether exciting ..."
Roger Ebert praised the film for "giving us aliens to remind us not everyone who comes in a spaceship need be angelic, octopod or stainless steel," but complains that "... the third act is disappointing, involving standard shoot-out action. No attempt is made to resolve the situation, and if that's a happy ending, I've seen happier. Despite its creativity, the film remains space opera and avoids the higher realms of science-fiction." New York Press critic Armond White lambasted the film for its outlandish premise and perceived racial insensitivity toward its apartheid allegories. He asserts that "Blomkamp and Jackson want it every which way: The actuality-video threat of The Blair Witch Project, unstoppable violence like ID4 plus Spielberg's otherworldly benevolence: factitiousness, killing and cosmic agape. This is how cinema gets turned into trash." Josh Tyler of Cinema Blend says the film is unique in interpretation and execution, but considers it to be a knockoff of the 1988 film Alien Nation., review by Josh Tyler, Cinema Blend, August 10, 2009
In South Africa, the film grossed five times more than the award-winning Tsotsi, with much less exposure.
The Nigerian government was deeply offended by the film. Information Minister Dora Akunyili asked movie theatres around the country to either ban the film or edit out specific references to the country, because of the film's negative depiction of the Nigerian characters as criminals and cannibals. Letters of complaint were sent to the producer and distributor of the film demanding an apology. She also said the gang leader Obesandjo is almost identical in spelling and pronunciation to the surname of former president Olusegun Obasanjo. The film was later banned in Nigeria; the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board was asked to prevent cinemas from showing the film and also to confiscate it.
District 9 was named one of the top 10 independent film of 2009 by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. The film received four Academy Awards nominations, seven British Academy Film Awards nominations, five Broadcast Film Critics Association nominations, and one Golden Globe nomination. It is the fourth film ever nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards for TriStar Pictures Behind As Good As It Gets, Jerry Maguire and Bugsy. It won the 2009 Bradbury Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
The Blu-ray Disc and Region 1 Code widescreen edition of District 9 as well as the 2-disc special edition version on DVD was released on December 22, 2009. The DVD and Blu-ray Disc includes the documentary "The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker's Log" and the special features "Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Wikus", "Innovation: Acting and Improvisation", "Conception and Design: Creating the World of District 9", and "Alien Generation: Visual Effects". The demo for the video game God of War III featured in the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo is also included with the Blu-ray release of District 9 playable on the Sony PlayStation 3.
On August 1, 2009, two weeks before District 9 was released to cinemas, Neill Blomkamp hinted that he intended to make a sequel if the film was successful enough. During an interview on the "Rude Awakening" 94.7 Highveld Stereo breakfast radio show, he alluded to it, saying "There probably will be." Nevertheless, he revealed that his next project is unrelated to the District 9 universe.
In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Blomkamp stated that he was "totally" hoping for a follow-up: "I haven't thought of a story yet but if people want to see another one, I'd love to do it."Mueller, Matt. , Rotten Tomatoes, 3 September 2009.
Blomkamp has posed the possibility of the next movie in the series being a prequel.
On April 23, 2010, MarketSaw announced that District 10 would start shooting in October. This text has been derived from District 9 on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0