9. District 9
Who You Probably Thought Made It: Peter Jackson
Who Really Made It: Neill Blomkamp
Back in 2009 hot from the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and his King Kong remake, Kiwi director Peter Jackson was enough of a household name that producing and loaning his name to a movie could practically guarantee its success.
Luckily for then relatively unknown South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, it was his feature film debut District 9 that Jackson decided to bestow his golden touch upon. The movie went on to be a massive success, raking in rave reviews and a not too shabby $210.8 million worldwide on a $30 million budget.
But it wasn’t quite the cynical marketing ploy it may first seem. Blomkamp and Jackson first met when working together on a movie adaptation of video game Halo and Blomkamp had even gone so far as to move to Jackson’s hometown in Wellington, New Zealand.
The Halo movie was set to be Blomkamp’s directorial debut with Jackson acting as mentor but when it famously fell through, a guilt-ridden Jackson insisted the pair make an original movie on their own based on a short film Blomkamp had made a few years previously called Alive in Joburg. And lo and behold, District 9 was born.
It seems it was equally rewarding for both. Blomkamp got to work with a director he respected and made a brilliant movie in the process and Jackson – who described the process of making District 9 as “guerrilla filmmaking” – got to vicariously relive his younger days as a novice director unencumbered by big studio demands. It’s all quite sweet really.