If you remember 2009’s District 9, you might remember the aliens, desolate camps and the gore-filled accidental transformation of Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) into a human-alien hybrid. The aliens, or “prawns,” were found in a downed spacecraft, just hovering above the ground in South Africa.

They are brought to Johannesburg after being found underfed and suffering. Too bad this is only the beginning of the nightmare. They could’ve stopped right there, written in a happy ending. However, historical events play a key role in Neill Blomkamp‘s films and history is not always kind.

Skipping to the present day, aliens are the unfortunate inhabitants of District 9, now considered a slum. Mr. Wikus, the bumbling son-in-law of a Multinational United (MNU) employee, is tasked with relocating the aliens. Wikus runs into the aliens Christopher Johnson (CJ) and Paul while serving the aliens’ relocation papers.

Unfortunately, he’s sprayed in the face with fuel Christopher is using to activate his dropship to escape District 9. This turns Wikus into an alien hybrid. MNU, dedicated to stealing the prawn’s technology, went after Mr. Wikus for his newfound ability. It’s a story you didn’t really want to watch unfold, but also something you couldn’t look away from. There’s a good reason for that.

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Image from District 9 film

The South African History Behind District 9

District 9 is based on South African history, specifically apartheid, a “legislation that upheld segregationist policies against non-white citizens of South Africa.” Apartheid began with the 1913 Land Act, which forced black Africans to live in reserves. It took hold in 1948 when the ruling government at the time segregated white and then non-whites to reduce their political gain. In 1950, apartheid became law.

The movie portrays one of the most painful elements of apartheid: forced resettlement. More than 3.5 black South Africans were violently relocated from their homes and moved into the reserves, renamed “homelands.”

The area consisted of 10 spots of land for non-whites, which made up only a shocking 13 percent of the country. It wasn’t until the 1980s that apartheid started falling apart. Nelson Mandela and President F.W. de Clerk repealed laws that enabled apartheid and developed a new constitution.

District 10 in Development

District 9 begins in South Africa during an alternate 1982, right when apartheid began to shatter. While South African history was the basis for District 9, District 10 will be “based on a topic in American history,” according to Neill Blomkamp, writer and director of the 2009 hit film. He’s working with Copley and Canadian writer Terri Tatchell to bring the film to life.

Blomkamp has a few projects he’s worked on over the last few years. This includes a multiplayer shooter with game developers at Gunzilla and a supernatural horror film called Demonic he’s kept under wraps. Blomkamp announced District 10’s development in a tweet in February of this year.

Considering the uptick in Blomkamp’s creations, it’s no wonder he’s working on a sequel to the unsettling sci-fi flick. There are a lot of topics in American history he might draw from such as racism and immigration.

In the same interview with IGN, Blomkamp states that writing a screenplay of this caliber takes time. “It’s looking good. It took a decade to figure out, to come up with a reason why to make that film as opposed to just make a sequel.”

Still from District 9

We’re curious to see whether Blomkamp’s sequel does well after his last few films, namely Elysium and Chappie, didn’t fare well at the box office. District 9 earned over a whopping $210 million globally even though its budget was only $30 million. Elysium made $70 million more globally, but it cost $115 million to make.

The same is said for Chappie, which only earned a little over $102 million globally with a budget of $49 million. We’re wondering what topic from American events Blomkamp chose for the movie and how it fits his daring style of storytelling. Hopefully, we’ll see District 10 in the next few years!

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Kathy Spangler
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