Neill Blomkamp‘s Elysium was a cool science fiction picture that didn’t quite garner the audience it had wanted to when it was released domestically earlier this month. They certainly expected more critical and commercial fanfare from Blomkamp’s follow-up to his Best Picture nominated first film, Distrcit 9. But Sony is still high on the South African director’s potential with international audiences and they’re hoping that his next film, Chappie, can right a ship which has sailed ever so slightly off course.
Today, the studio announced a March 27th, 2015 release for Blomkamp’s next.
The film is yet another sci-fi picture. While Blomkamp’s other films focused heavily on aliens and dystopian government oppression, and focused on those issues with a rather dark and occasionally brutally violent eye, Chappie will arguably tackle its issues in a more lighthearted manner.
Once again starring Sharlto Copely (who has starred in all of Blomkamp’s films to date) as the voice of a robot stolen from its masters by a couple of underworld gangsters played by Ninja and Yolandi Visser of South African hip-hop group, Die Antwoord.
One thing the film can do improve its domestic and international box office numbers is fairly simple: Chappie could use a title change. I am a firm believer that the reason Elysium suffered such low numbers Stateside was because of its title. It’s a weird word to the casual film fan and most people I spoke to about the film referred to it as “that Matt Damon movie”. As a sci-fi fan and screenwriter, I liked the title. But dumbing it down would’ve proved beneficial in my eyes.
District 9, as a title, is at once all together mysterious, familiar and unknown. It told us nothing about the picture but implied captivity, containment and government involvement…which is what the film is about. It’s a great title that served the film. Elysium, while an interesting and unique title, gave potential audiences nothing in terms of information on what they were walking into.
I’m all for creative and artistic integrity. Chappie is a fine title for a sci-fi picture dealing with robotics. But it is going to be released before the massive summer that will be 2015 and will serve more as an appetizer to the summer months’ main course. A simple title change could benefit its commercial appeal massively. And if the studio and Blomkamp refuse to at least field the idea, they might miss an opportunity to land an early spring hit before the blood-bath that will be the biggest year at the movies in quite some time.
Production on Chappie begins this fall.