Neil Blomkamp, director of District 9, had a very big day yesterday as he traveled to the various studios with the script and pitch for his next science fiction project Elysium in hand. According to Deadline, his trip (along with his producers from MRC) made a stop at every major studio that would ever be interested in an R-rated blockbuster (read: all of them except Disney) and he pitched the story, script, and made a demonstration of the storyboards. Another huge piece of his arsenal (aside from the District 9 $210m worldwide gross against a $30m budget) is that futurist designer Syd Mead has signed onto the film to help visualize the futuristic world of the story. This round of pitching pretty much immediately landed Blomkamp a studio-partner in Sony Pictures who have decided to renew their relationship with the director and be the sole financier/distributor.

It’s exciting to see Blomkamp get such an enthusiastic response from his trip around town, and it’s exciting to hear how prepared for this project he seems to be. The Syd Mead news is big- while the designer is responsible for elements and environments in Tron, Blade Runner, Aliens, and more his film work in the last decade or more has been sparse. He had some involvement with the latest Tron when it was first being considered, but his last visible work was the mask making machine in MI:3. Mead signing onto Elysium was apparently a product of his enthusiasm for Blomkamp’s first film. Mead remains a brilliant designer (a fact he’s very… aware of… if the lecture he gave while I was still in design school is any indication), and I can’t wait to see what he cooks up for Elysium. He’s been a “futurist” for a very long time, and seen many of his visions have already come to fruition in the real world or be eclipsed by technology he couldn’t have dreamed of. His aesthetic is grounded (or was at least first formed) in the old-school pre-digital world of science fiction, so it’ll be a treat seeing his view of a 100 years evolved digital, wireless world. Nobody does a futuristic city or landscape like Mead though, the sense of scale and drama he brings to each scene his work has collectively made him the most influential of any visual artist to work in the science fiction genre.

As for the studio arrangement? What’s to be said other than it make sense. Sony had a hit when they picked up District 9 and they want to try it again. Blomkamp’s certainly pleased-

“I literally could not be happier.  I have a brilliant relationship with Sony. I loved them during District 9, they 100% get this film and they get me. Elysium is in very good hands.”

The film will start shooting this summer in Mexico and Canada, and is currently slated as a 2012 Holiday release. Aside from the “100 years in the future” detail, we know little more about the plot then we did last time the film was in the news- when it added Jodie Foster to the cast, along with Matt Damon and Sharlto Copley. Now that the deal is done and shooting will start sooner rather than later, we might find out something juicy before long.

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