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District 9 (2009) Poster

(2009)

Trivia

Jump to: Director Cameo (1) | Spoilers (6)
Around six different endings were created during filming.
The language used by the aliens (clicking sounds) was created by rubbing a pumpkin.
The first documentary-style film to be nominated for Best Picture.
After the feature film based on the Halo (2001) video game series which was to be directed by Neill Blomkamp fell through, producer Peter Jackson went to Blomkamp and offered him $30 million to make whatever he wanted. The result was this film.
The title is a nod to a real place and a real incident. District 6 was a mixed race neighborhood of Cape Town which the apartheid government demolished in 1966 to make room for whites.
Star Sharlto Copley had not acted before and had no intention of pursuing an acting career. He stumbled into the leading role as Neill Blomkamp placed him on-camera during the short film.
As part of the marketing campaign in North America and the United Kingdom, posters were put up in major cities on bus stops, the sides of buildings, etc. designating areas that were restricted for humans only, with a number to call (866.666.6001 in the US, 0207 148 7468 in the UK) in order to report non-humans. The title of the film was generally not included, although the URL address for the film's official website was.
All the shacks in District 9 were actual shacks that exists in a section of Johannesburg which were to be evacuated and the residents moved to better government housing, paralleling the events in the film. Also paralleling, the residents had not actually been moved out before filming began. The only shack that was created solely for filming was Christopher Johnson's shack.
All of the aliens in the film are CGI except the ones on operating tables in the medical lab. All of the speaking aliens were performed by one actor, Jason Cope, who also played the role of the lead alien Christopher Johnson and narrator Grey Bradnam. The dialogue for the speaking aliens was ad-libbed by Cope, and dubbed over in post production.
The idea of the prawns being obsessed with cat food came from two inspirations. In impoverished areas of Johannesburg, Neill Blomkamp would see people selling cheese poofs and other snack foods out of large 3-foot tall bags and wanted the aliens to have a similar cheap food. The decision to make them cat food came from one of the producers who used canned cat food to bait hooks when fishing for prawns in Vancouver.
In South Africa, the last name "van der Merwe" really is a fairly common surname (it, like many Afrikaans names, comes from the Dutch), but it would also be recognizable to most South Africans as the common name in a whole genre of jokes about stupid, bumbling, oblivious, or incompetent Afrikaaners. The fact that the Wikus van der Merwe character is (at least at the beginning of the film) an ineffectual, catastrophically clueless bureaucrat is immediately communicated by the screenwriters' decision to give him that particular name.
Sharlto Copley ad-libbed all his lines during the "documentary" sequences. Copley and Jason Cope improvised their dialogue in other scenes.
The creatures used in the small fighting arena were meant to be rodents/pests which were aboard the ship.
Several Afrikaans curse words can be heard throughout the film, including 'doos' or 'poes' (both of which are slang terms for a vagina), fok/fokken (which means "f**k/f**king"), and 'bliksem' which has a variation of meanings. 'Bliksem' commonly means lightning or thunder, but is sometimes used as an exclamation of wonder, amazement or surprise. It can also be used as a derogatory term when referring to a person or as a derogatory adjective when used to describe a person or object. "Daai bliksemse prawn" would roughly translate to "That damn prawn" Also at some point, a sniper says "Kom na pappa toe", which translates to "Come to daddy".
District 9 is adapted from Neill Blomkamp's earlier short movie, Alive in Joburg (2006).
The film was inspired by director Neill Blomkamp's childhood in South Africa during apartheid.
The mutilated animal carcasses in the background of many scenes were real and with only a few exceptions, were already in the real slums and shacks used for the filming.
Many real tribal languages of Southern Africa employ clicking sounds (much like the ones the filmmakers included in the alien language) in their vocabularies, including Zulu (the most widely spoken indigenous language of South Africa) and Xhosa, another frequently spoken South African language (even the name "Xhosa" has a click in it).
The design for the aliens went through quite a few iterations before the final insectoid "prawn" concept was finalized. Originally, the aliens were conceived as hulking creatures with leathery skin and tentacled faces, and were intended to be performed by actors in creature suits. The "prawn" creatures were initially meant to be "masters" of the tentacle-faced creatures (keeping with the idea that the aliens were slaves). Eventually, the lumbering creatures were dispensed with, the "prawn" creature design was settled upon, and it was decided that the aliens would be realized via CGI.
The alien ship was on Earth for 28 years: the time-stamp in the first 'documentary' scene shows 1982/06/01, while the eviction operation starts on 2010/09/08.
Director Neill Blomkamp has said, jokingly, that the yellow slime that Wikus sticks his hand into is either a nano fluid that Wikus has to interface with to activate the ship, or the ships urinal.
William Allen Young is the only American actor in the entire film.
The first TriStar film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture since As Good as It Gets (1997).
Two Toyota Hiluxes were "weaponized" into MNU armored "gun trucks" by Weta's vehicle and engineering department crew. One truck survived the shoot, while the other was destroyed for the scene where a power-suited Wikus flips the truck (Wikus was added digitally, but the truck flip itself was a physical effect).
A large number of actual South African weapons were used in the film. Quite a few of them were designed by Tony Neophytou and are marketed by Denel. This includes the NTW-20 20mm anti-materiel rifle, white painted CR-21 bullpup assault rifles and a Neopup PAW-20 hand-held grenade launcher. Kobus uses this when he shoots the battle suit in the back.
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This is one of two movies to be released in 2009 to have been based on a short film released in 2005. The other film was Shane Acker's 9 (2009). Both films were adapted for a full-length feature film by their original directors.
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The MNU headquarter buildings shown in numerous scenes throughout the film are in reality the Carlton Centre complex belonging to South African state transport company Transnet. The shorter of the two buildings (shaped as an upside down Y) is actually the former Carlton Hotel which was mothballed in 1997 due to low occupancy. The taller structure with the CGI helicopter landing pads and MNU logo on the roof is the primary 50-storey building of the Carlton Centre complex and is known as Carlton Centre which is the tallest building in Africa.
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This movie marks the first appearance of the Denel NTW-20 anti-materiel rifle in a film. It's the large sniper rifle used during the final shootout.
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First feature film directed by Neill Blomkamp.
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Director Cameo 

Neill Blomkamp:  When Koobus is tracking Wikus' location, Neill Blomkamp is seen briefly saying Wikus' coordinates.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Near the end of the movie, when Wikus' wife Tania is talking to the camera and holding the flower made of metal, several ultrasound images can be seen on the mirror behind her, suggesting that she may be pregnant.
When Wikus cuts the cake shaped like the MNU Headquarters at his party, he cuts out the same spot that he and Christopher Johnson blow up in order to enter the building later on in the film.
Certain spontaneous reactions of the actors were kept in the movie for greater effect.
  • When Fundiswa steps from the vehicle into District 9 for the first time, his character's reaction of diving for cover - actor Mandla Gaduka was told there would be no gunfire, however, stunt men began firing unexpectedly.


  • Obesanjo's "Holy shit!" reaction when Wikus shoots the gangster - actor Eugene Khumbanyiwa was not prepared for the strength of the air compressors that blew out the side of the shack.


  • Koobus' reaction to his truck flipping after being hit - the truck actually did not flip after several attempts and actor David James response was in frustration to the stunt not working.


Body count: 21 MNU men, 15 Nigerians, and 3 aliens.
Wikus as a prawn is slightly different looking than other prawns. His antennae are shorter, and he stands over a foot shorter than the other prawns. The prawns, such as Christopher, stand at roughly seven feet tall. Actor Sharlto Copley (Wikus) stands 5ft 11.5 inches, making him a full foot shorter than the prawns. Biologically speaking, it is very unlikely Wikus would gain a foot of height when he transforms, making him a much shorter prawn.
The extremely large sniper rifle used to disable Wikus's armored suit is an actual weapon, the Denel NTW-20 20mm anti-materiel rifle. Appropriately, it is manufactured in South Africa.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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