Elysium (film)

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Elysium Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNeill Blomkamp
Produced by
Written byNeill Blomkamp
Music byRyan Amon
CinematographyTrent Opaloch
Edited by
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • August 7, 2013 (2013-08-07) (Taiwan)
  • August 9, 2013 (2013-08-09) (United States)
Running time
109 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[2]
  • English
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Afrikaans
Budget$115 million[3]
Box office$286.1 million[3]

Elysium is a 2013 American science fiction action film written, produced and directed by Neill Blomkamp. It stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Alice Braga, and Sharlto Copley.[4] The film takes place on both a ravaged Earth, and a luxurious space habitat (Stanford torus design, one of the proposed NASA designs) called Elysium.[5] The film itself offers deliberate social commentary which explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, transhumanism, health care, worker exploitation, the justice system, and social class issues.[6]

The film was released on August 9, 2013 by Sony Pictures Releasing through the TriStar Pictures label, in both conventional and IMAX Digital theaters. It was a modest success and received generally positive reviews from critics, even though many considered it a disappointment after Blomkamp's first film District 9. Elysium was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 17, 2013.


In 2154, Earth citizens live in poverty. The rich and powerful live on Elysium, a gigantic space habitat in Earth's orbit. Elysium is technologically advanced, with devices that can cure all diseases, reverse aging, and regenerate body parts. A feud exists between Elysium and Earth, whose residents want Elysian technology to cure their illnesses.

Max Da Costa lives in Los Angeles and works at an assembly line for Armadyne. Run by CEO John Carlyle, who designed Elysium, Armadyne produces Elysium's weaponry and the robots that police Earth. During an industrial accident, Max is trapped in a kiln and is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. He is rescued and informed that he has five days to live. Carlyle refuses to help him, and Max is only given medication to stop the symptoms until his death. Max and his friend Julio seek help from a human smuggler named Spider to get him to Elysium in order to use a Med-Bay.

When three ships carrying immigrants from Earth attempt to reach Elysium, Defense Secretary Delacourt orders agent Kruger to destroy them. Two shuttles are shot down in space but the third is not. Once on Elysium everyone on board is killed or deported. Elysian President Patel reprimands Delacourt for her response and threatens to fire her unless she tones down her actions. Kruger is dismissed from service. Delacourt gives Carlyle millions of dollars in weapon contracts to create a program that can override Elysium's computer to give her the Presidency. Carlyle stores the program in his brain to take to Elysium and encrypts it with a program that would kill him in case of any attempt to manipulate or extract the data.

Spider agrees to get Max to Elysium if he can steal information from Carlyle. Spider's men surgically attach a powered exoskeleton to Max. With Julio and Spider's men, Max shoots down Carlyle's ship. In the firefight with Carlyle's security droids, Carlyle dies. Max downloads the program to his suit's neural implant but the encryption makes it unusable. Alerted to the data theft, Delacourt reinstates Kruger and deploys him to recover the program.

In a shootout, Julio is killed and Max is wounded. He contacts his friend Frey, a nurse. Frey begs Max to take her daughter Matilda to Elysium to be cured of Leukemia, but Max refuses in order to protect them. Kruger, alongside mercenaries Drake and Crowe, arrive and interrogate Frey; when Kruger realizes that Matilda is sick, they take Frey and Matilda aboard his ship while his drones hunt for Max. Delacourt orders an airspace lockdown over Los Angeles.

Max delivers the program to Spider, who discovers that it can be used to make Earth's residents Elysian citizens. The lockdown makes it impossible to leave Earth, so Max bargains with Kruger to be taken to Elysium, unaware that Kruger is holding Frey and Matilda hostage. As Kruger's ship leaves Earth, Spider and his men take advantage of the lifting of the lockdown and board a ship towards Elysium. Meanwhile, in Kruger's ship, a fight erupts and Kruger is wounded by a grenade, which disables the ship's engines.

After the ship crashes on Elysium, Max is knocked out by Drake, while Frey escapes with Matilda to a mansion, and discovers that Med-Bays only work for Elysian citizens. Crowe arrives and subdues Frey with a taser. Max, Frey and Matilda are taken to Delacourt, who orders the decryption of the program despite the fact that it will kill Max. She then orders Frey and Matilda to be taken away by Crowe, who locks them in a room.

After being restored in a Med-Bay, Kruger kills Delacourt. Drake and Crowe assassinate Elysian political officers in order to seize control. Having escaped his confinement, Max, knowing that Med-Bays only work for Elysian citizens, resolves to use the program and give everyone on Earth Elysian citizenship. After being ordered by Kruger to kill Frey and Matilda, Crowe prepares to rape Frey first, but Max kills him and Drake and frees Frey and Matilda.

Max meets up with Spider, who has Frey and Matilda escorted to a Med-Bay. They head for Elysium's computer core but are ambushed by Kruger. Max rips out Kruger's neural implant, rendering his suit immobile. Kruger tethers himself to Max's suit and arms a grenade to kill them both. Max rips off the tether and hurls Kruger over a ledge, killing him. Spider and Max reach Elysium's core, where Spider realizes that the program's activation will kill Max.

Max activates the program. As Max dies, Elysium's core reboots and registers every Earth resident as an Elysian citizen. President Patel arrives but the robots refuse to arrest Spider, whom they now recognize as a citizen. Matilda is cured by a Med-Bay and Elysium's computer dispatches a fleet of medical ships to treat the people of Earth.



Elysium was produced by Bill Block, Neill Blomkamp, and Simon Kinberg, and written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, the director and co-writer of District 9 (2009). It reunites Blomkamp with some of his District 9 crew, such as editor Julian Clarke, production designer Philip Ivey, cinematographer Trent Opaloch, and actor Sharlto Copley, playing one of the film's antagonists. Elysium is a co-production of TriStar Pictures and MRC.[7]

Although the film's story is set in 2154, Blomkamp has stated that it is a comment on the contemporary human condition.[8] "Everybody wants to ask me lately about my predictions for the future," the director has said, "No, no, no. This isn't science fiction. This is today. This is now."[9] In January 2011, independent studio Media Rights Capital met with major studios to distribute Elysium, and Blomkamp shared art designs of his proposed science fiction film. The art designs won over the executives at Sony Pictures, who bought the film after making a more attractive offer than the other studios.[10]

With a production budget of $115 million,[11] production began in July 2011. The film's Earth-bound scenes were shot in a dump in the poor Iztapalapa district on the outskirts of Mexico City. The scenes for Elysium were shot in Vancouver and the wealthy Huixquilucan-Interlomas suburbs of Mexico City. Matt Damon shaved his head for the role of Max. The main role was first offered to Watkin Tudor Jones (aka Ninja), a South African rapper, who despite being a fan of District 9 (he has a D9 tattoo on his inner lip) did not take the role.[12]

The role was then offered to rapper Eminem, but he wanted the film to be shot in Detroit. That was not an option for the two studios, so Blomkamp moved on to Damon as his next choice.[13] Futuristic designs were executed by Philip Ivey after long periods of researching and studying older science fiction films. Ivey has continuously cited Syd Mead as a substantial influence for the film.[14]

Weta Workshop created the exosuits for Damon and Copley's characters, while the complicated visual effects were handled primarily by Image Engine (who also collaborated on District 9) with additional work by Whiskytree, MPC, The Embassy and Industrial Light and Magic. Re-shoots took place through October 2012.[15] The film's music score was composed by newcomer Ryan Amon and recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the Philharmonia Orchestra.[16] The soundtrack was released on August 6, 2013.


In October 2013, a lawsuit was filed by Steve Wilson Briggs accusing the crew of copyright infringement, claiming he wrote a screenplay that was substantially similar to the movie. Several months before filing a lawsuit, he registered his screenplay with the U.S. Copyright Office to file an infringement complaint.[17][18]

On 3 October 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found in favour of the film's producers.[19]


When the film was first announced, Sony intended to release it in late 2012.[10] It later set an official release date for March 8, 2013,[20] before moving one week earlier to prevent competing against Oz the Great and Powerful.[21] In October 2012, Sony then announced they had pushed back the release date to August 9, 2013.[22] In April 2013, Sony also announced that the film would be specifically reformatted for IMAX theaters. By that time, two theatrical trailers and a TV spot had already been showcased.[23] Elysium was originally released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 17, 2013 and later released on Ultra HD Blu-ray on February 9, 2021 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.


Box office[edit]

Elysium grossed $93.1 million in North America and $193.1 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $286.1 million, against a production budget of $115 million.[3] It made a net profit of $18 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues for the film.[24]

The film opened on August 9, 2013, and grossed $11.1 million on its opening day, ranking No. 1. It proceeded to rank No. 1 for the weekend, grossing $29.8 million.[25]

Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 65% based on 255 reviews, with an average rating of 6.47/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "After the heady sci-fi thrills of District 9, Elysium is a bit of a comedown for director Neill Blomkamp, but on its own terms, it delivers just often enough to satisfy."[26] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 61 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[27] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[28]

In February 2015, while promoting his newest film, Chappie, director Neill Blomkamp expressed some regrets regarding Elysium, commenting:

I feel like I fucked it up, I feel like ultimately the story is not the right story... I still think the satirical idea of a ring, filled with rich people, hovering above the impoverished Earth, is an awesome idea. I love it so much, I almost want to go back and do it correctly. But I just think the script wasn't... I just didn't make a good enough film is ultimately what it is. I feel like I executed all of the stuff that could be executed, like costume and set design and special effects very well. But, ultimately, it was all resting on a somewhat not totally formed skeletal system, so the script just wasn't there; the story wasn't fully there.[29]


Art Directors Guild 2014
Award Category Nominee Result
Excellence in Production Design Award Fantasy Film Philip Ivey (production designer)
Don Macaulay (supervising art director)
Nancy Anna Brown (set designer - Canada unit)
Ross Dempster (art director - Canada unit)
Hania Robledo (art director - Mexico unit)
Catherine Ircha (assistant art director - Canada unit)
Luis Antonio Ordoñez (assistant art director - Mexico unit)
Syd Mead (conceptual artist)
David Clarke (set designer - Canada unit)
Mira Caveno (set designer - Canada unit)
Ravi Bansal (concept artist)
Ron Turner (concept artist)
Mitchell Stuart (concept artist)
Christian Pearce (concept designer)
Leri Greer (concept designer)
Stuart Thomas (concept designer)
Aaron Beck (concept designer)
Ben Mauro (concept designer)
TyRuben Ellingson (concept designer)
George Hull (concept designer)
Brent Boates (storyboard artist)
Robert Pratt (storyboard artist)
Ray Lai (illustrator)
Rob Jensen (illustrator)
Andy Chung (previsualization artist)
Peter Lando (set decorator - Canada unit)
Gabriela Matus (set decorator - Mexico unit)
Golden Schmoes Awards 2013
Award Category Result
Golden Schmoes Best Sci-Fi Movie of the Year and Biggest Disappointment of the Year Nominated
Hollywood Film Awards 2013
Award Nominee Result
Hollywood Movie Award Neill Blomkamp Nominated
IGN Summer Movie Awards 2013
Award Category Result
IGN Award Best Sci-Fi Movie Nominated
Jupiter Award 2014
Award Category Nominee Result
Jupiter Award Best International Film Neill Blomkamp Nominated
Leo Awards 2014
Award Category Nominee Result
Leo Best Visual Effects Motion Picture Peter Muyzers
Andrew Chapman
Shawn Walsh
Cabral Rock
Satellite Awards 2013
Award Category Nominee Result
Satellite Award Best Sound (Editing & Mixing) Christopher Scarabosio
Craig Berkey
Dave Whitehead
David Husby
Visual Effects Society Awards 2014
Award Category Nominee Result
VES Award Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture Jean Lapointe
Jordan Benwick
Robin Hackl
Janeen Elliott
Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture Votch Levi
Joshua Ong
Barry Poon
Kent Matheson


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ELYSIUM (15)". British Board of Film Classification. July 15, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  2. ^ "Elysium (2013)". The New York Times. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Elysium (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. December 17, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  4. ^ "First Look at Sharlto Copley in Neill Blomkamp's 'Elysium'". Rogue (company). Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  5. ^ "SDCC: 'Elysium' Viral Launches". ComingSoon.net. CraveOnline Media, LLC. July 20, 2011. Retrieved July 21, 2011.
  6. ^ Buchanan, Kyle. "Elysium: Matt Damon's Action Movie for the 99%". Vulture. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike. "3RD UPDATE: Sony Pictures Snaps Up Neill Blomkamp's 'Elysium'; Matt Damon And Jodie Foster Set To Star". Deadline. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  8. ^ Smith, Sean (August 2, 2013). "Future Shock". Entertainment Weekly. New York, New York: 36–43.
  9. ^ "The Future is Now: 'Elysium' Mega-Trailer and Two More Clips". Rogue. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Kit, Borys (January 19, 2011). "Sony Snags 'District 9' Director Neill Blomkamp's 'Elysium'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  11. ^ "Neill Blomkamp talks 'Elysium'". Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  12. ^ "Eminem and Die Antwoord's Ninja both turned down lead in sci-fi film". July 18, 2013.
  13. ^ "Matt Damon stepped in for Eminem in 'Elysium'". CNN. August 1, 2013.
  14. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (October 10, 2012). "Matt Damon Takes A Small Part In Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem". Cinema Blend. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  15. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (October 10, 2012). "Matt Damon Takes A Small Part In Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem". Cinema Blend. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  16. ^ Siegemund-Broka, Austin (June 2013). "'Elysium' Composer on How to Write an 'Organic' Score (Hint: Hire Monkeys and Mosquitos)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  17. ^ "Elysium - Lawsuit.pdf" (PDF). WikiLeaks. August 31, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  18. ^ Sneider, Jeff (October 9, 2013). "'Elysium' Director Neill Blomkamp, Sony, Producers Sued for Copyright Infringement". TheWrap. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  19. ^ Mazumdar, Anandashankar (October 15, 2014). "Matt Damon Film 'Elysium' Not Substantially Similar to Posted 'Butterfly Driver' Screenplay". Bloomberg Law. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  20. ^ McClintock, Pamela (March 9, 2011). "Neill Blomkamp's 'Elysium' Has a Release Date". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  21. ^ Kroll, Justin (June 9, 2011). "Luna in talks to join 'Elysium'". Variety. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  22. ^ McClintock, Pamela (October 15, 2012). "Sony Pushes 'Robocop' to 2014, Moves 'Elysium' to Summer 2013". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  23. ^ "Elysium New Trailer". Film-Summary. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  24. ^ "Sony Hack Reveals Top-Secret Profitability of 2013 Movies". The Hollywood Reporter. December 5, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  25. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for August 9-11, 2013". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. August 12, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
  26. ^ "Elysium (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  27. ^ "Elysium Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  28. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "New 'Alien' and 'Chappie' Director Neill Blomkamp On 'Elysium': 'I F*cked It Up'". uproxx.com. February 26, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015.

External links[edit]