Grossing less than $100 million in the U.S., Neil Blomkamp's "Elysium" wasn't the tentpole success Sony or the filmmakers had hoped it would be. But grossing $250 million worldwide, the film (which cost $115 million) wasn't a total wash, and regardless, Blomkamp remains unbowed. His next picture, the sci-fi comedy "Chappie" is getting underway and it appears as if casting is almost finished.
Hugh Jackman recently revealed during a press conference at the Zurich Film Festival—where he received the Golden Icon Award—that he has joined the film in an unspecified role. “I am doing a role in Neill’s new film, called 'Chappie,' which we shoot in Johannesburg," he said. "I’m there for a couple of weeks at the beginning of next year.” Unlike the large scope of "Elysium," Blomkamp's latest sounds like it will be a more modest film, but Sony will still be distributing.
Written by Blomkamp and wife/writing partner Terri Tatchell (who co-wrote "District 9"), "Chappie" is about a robot with artificial intelligence that is stolen by gangsters who plan to use him for their criminal purposes. The movie stars Dev Patel ("Slumdog Millonaire") in the lead role, Blomkamp regular Sharlto Copley as the voice of the robot and, in a very inspired casting move, the two thugs will be played by South African rappers Ninja and Yolandi Visser of the experimental hip-hop group Die Antwoord. No word on who Jackman will play (or Patel for that matter), but his role does sound small.
Blomkamp has described the movie so far as a "hilarious mix" of "RoboCop" and "E.T.," and apparently it won't be as political and dystopian as his two previous films. We're deeply intrigued and after that rather humorless "Elysium," something a little bit more light on its toes sounds like the best plan. Jackman also gave some updates on other projects including the musical "The Greatest Showman on Earth" to be directed by Michael Gracey. "Recently it’s taken a real turn and there’s some real momentum so watch this space," he said.
Announced in 2009, actor/director Madeleine Stowe's dream project Western, "Unbound Captives" which was set to star Jackman, Rachel Weisz and Robert Pattinson sounds much more nebulous, as the "Wolverine" star only said it was "another difficult project to get up." Filming on "Chappie" was initially set to start in September, but from Jackman's comments, it sounds like production will begin in the new year.