Before 'District 9' became a surprise smash hit, and later an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture, the names Neill Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley (pictured above, left to right) might have drawn blank stares if raised in conversation. Since then, however, the director and star of the "hellaciously entertaining" alien invasion picture (in the words of yours truly) have become hot properties. Copley appeared as Murdock in last summer's 'The A-Team,' while Blomkamp has been linked to "everything from music video possibilities to sequels, prequels and Hobbits," as our own Monika Bartyzel reported recently.

In June we heard that Blomkamp was hard at work on his new science fiction flick, titled 'Elysium,' and now Deadline is reporting that Copley has been cast. Blomkamp and Media Rights Capital (MRC) are meeting with potential distributors. MRC committed to funding Blomkamp's project, then untitled, more than a year ago and pledged to give him complete creative freedom. At the time, they indicated that the film would be modestly-budgeted but would certainly cost more than the $30 million spent on the production of 'District 9.'

MRC also said at the time that they wouldn't meet with distributors until they were ready to start production, so this report and the news that Copley is on board appears to signal that a script is finished and preparatory work is well under way. As with 'District 9,' a graphic novel is reportedly part of the presentation process.

If all the distribution / financing deals fall into place as hoped and Blomkamp is able to make his next movie with complete creative freedom, then we can anticipate another fresh and exciting science fiction picture that plays against expectations.

By the way, one dictionary defines "Elysium" as a term from Greek mythology, "the place at the ends of the earth to which certain favored heroes were conveyed by the gods after death," or, in its noun form, "a place or state of perfect happiness," which is about how we're feeling about this project.