After a heated bidding war, Sony Pictures Entertainment has won the right to distribute Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium," financier Media Rights Capital has confirmed to TheWrap.
The studio released Blomkamp's "District 9" to critical acclaim and considerable profit in 2009, and submitting the highest bid for "Elysium" proves its commitment to the up-and-coming filmmaker.
"I literally could not be happier," said Blomkamp in a statement. "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."
"District 9" grossed $210.8 million worldwide on a budget of just $30 million, and with that staggering success in mind, Sony was reportedly willing to shell out more than $100 million for the rights to release Blomkamp's "Elysium," according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The figure may seem high, but it's likely in line with what other studios would've paid for such a high-profile project, which Sony picked up for almost all territories worldwide.
Oscar winners Matt Damon and Jodie Foster are set to star in "Elysium" alongside "District 9's" Sharlto Copley. Set 100 years in the future, the sci-fi film is said to feature the social allegory that propelled "District 9" to a surprise Best Picture nomination.
Simon Kinberg is producing the picture with Bill Block.
Additionally, MRC has signed Blomkamp to an overall deal and greenlit his third movie, "Chappie," which will go into production as soon as Blomkamp completes "Elysium." Blomkamp wrote "Chappie" as an original, so the film is not part of the distribution arrangement.
"Blade Runner" veteran Syd Mead will emerge from self-imposed semi-retirement to design the big-budget sets for "Elysium," having been impressed with both "District 9" and Blomkamp's commitment to his craft.
The highly-anticipated R-rated tentpole is scheduled to begin production in July in Vancouver before moving to Mexico City in the fall, with the aim of hitting theaters in time for the 2012 holidays.
Sony is also releasing MRC's upcoming comedy "30 Minutes or Less," which stars Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari and Danny McBride.
Sony's acquisition of "Elysium" was first reported by Deadline.