Of course, he realizes that you have to make some concessions when your new movie is a $100 million tentpole starring Matt Damon. In every respect, Elysium is a larger, higher-profile, and more conventional action film than District 9.
So Blomkamp turned to the A-list. In late 2010, he met with Damon in a New York diner. “About 15 minutes in, he pulled out what was essentially a homemade graphic novel” of the movie, Damon says. “It absolutely blew my mind.” That book, which also featured detailed illustrations of weaponry and future-tech, was the result of a yearlong back-and-forth between Blomkamp and illustrators from New Zealand effects house Weta and conceptual artist Doug Williams. The look of the film hews closely to those drawings. “I talked to Jim Cameron about Avatar early on,” Damon says, “and what struck me about Neill was the same thing that struck me about Cameron: The world had already been created. It existed in their minds.”