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District 9 Wows Comic-Con

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 1, 2009 at 11:07AM

The hit of Comic-Con was Peter Jackson protege Neill Blomkamp's debut movie, the sci-fi thriller District 9. When Halo fell apart, Jackson and Blomkamp assembled this movie about what happens when aliens come to earth and we treat them badly. The creatures were designed as insect-like humanoids. Jackson was disappointed that Weta was so busy with James Cameron's Avatar that he wasn't able to commandeer his own people for the VFX and had to go elsewhere. "You have to empathize with the alien characters," Jackson said. "They have to have an alien head with the human psychography of a face that you can recognize and extract emotion from. It wasn't easy on our budget."
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Thompson on Hollywood

The hit of Comic-Con was Peter Jackson protege Neill Blomkamp's debut movie, the sci-fi thriller District 9. When Halo fell apart, Jackson and Blomkamp assembled this movie about what happens when aliens come to earth and we treat them badly. The creatures were designed as insect-like humanoids. Jackson was disappointed that Weta was so busy with James Cameron's Avatar that he wasn't able to commandeer his own people for the VFX and had to go elsewhere. "You have to empathize with the alien characters," Jackson said. "They have to have an alien head with the human psychography of a face that you can recognize and extract emotion from. It wasn't easy on our budget."

Blomkamp, who grew up in South Africa during apartheid, started out too serious, he admitted. "Elements of segregation and xenophobia made it into the film, which has a "strange alternate reality," he said. But he pulled back and tried to make a smart, accessible film, "more of a fun ride."

I skipped the movie at Comic-Con because I was turned off by the trailer I saw at ShoWest. Several folks at the Con said it misrepresented the movie. Clearly, District 9 will need some of new Sony marketing chief Marc Weinstock's marketing magic for it to break out beyond genre fans.

Here's the LAT's Peter Jackson interview, Variety's review and the the trailer:


This article is related to: Directors, Festivals, Video, Peter Jackson, Comic-Con, Trailers


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.