Elysium (film)

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

Elysium is a 2013 American dystopian sci-fi action film written, produced, and directed by Neill Blomkamp. It was Blomkamp's second directorial effort. The film stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster alongside Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, and William Fichtner.[4] The film takes place on both a ravaged Earth and a luxurious artificial world (Stanford torus design) called Elysium.[5] The film itself offers deliberate social commentary that explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, transhumanism, health care, worker exploitation, the justice system, technology, 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 received positive reviews, but critics considered it to be disappointing after Blomkamp's first film, District 9. It grossed $286 million and was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 17, 2013.


In 2154, Earth is overpopulated, diseased, and largely polluted. The planet’s citizens live in extreme poverty while the rich and powerful live on Elysium, an orbiting space station just outside of Earth’s atmosphere.

Spider, a hacker living on Earth in Los Angeles, runs three space shuttle flights to Elysium to smuggle people in to use their Med-Bays, devices that can heal any disease or condition. Elysium Defense Secretary Delacourt shoots down two of the spacecraft in space, killing everyone on board, and has everyone on the shuttle that does reach Elysium arrested and deported. Elysium President Patel reprimands Delacourt for her actions, threatening discharge for any more actions in a similar manner. In retaliation, she offers Armadyne Corp CEO John Carlyle defense contracts for life in exchange for a program that will allow Delacourt to conduct a coup and install herself as president. Carlyle writes the program and stores it inside his brain.

On Earth, parolee Max Da Costa is working for Armadyne Corp as a laborer when he is accidentally exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. He is only given medication for the side effects and told he has five days to live after being fired by Carlyle. Max and his friend Julio approach Spider and make a deal: if Max can successfully steal information from a powerful Elysium citizen, in exchange Spider will give Max a shuttle ride to Elysium to use a Med-Bay to cure his condition. Max demands that the target be his former boss, Carlyle. Due to his health, Spider provides Max with a powerful exoskeleton via surgery to significantly increase his strength and stamina.

Max and Julio shoot down Carlyle's shuttle to Elysium; Carlyle is lethally injured in a shootout against his security robots. Max and Julio successfully extract the program from his brain, but the data becomes unexpectedly scrambled, locked behind a security program. Delacourt sends a black ops team led by Agent Kruger (whose contract Patel had terminated for shooting the shuttles down) to retrieve it. Kruger kills Julio but an injured Max escapes with the copy of the program while Carlyle's death destroys any possibility of further retrieval from his brain.

Max seeks help from his childhood friend and nurse, Frey, who patches him up. Max goes to Spider, and realizes that the data in Max's head is a program that can reboot the entire Elysium mainframe. Delacourt locks down all flights up to Elysium, leaving Spider unable to take Max. Max angrily leaves, though not before Spider is able to discreetly place a tracking device on him. After Kruger kidnaps Frey and her daughter, Max approaches him and offers him the data in exchange for the use of a Med-Bay. Kruger accepts and Delacourt lifts the lockdown so the group can travel to Elysium. During the flight, Kruger and Max fight over the data and a grenade explodes in Kruger's face, damaging the ship. The ship then crashes on Elysium; Max is arrested and taken to Delacourt, who orders a team to extract the data. Max escapes and heads to the armory to save Frey, who has been turned over to Kruger's men. Kruger is revived by a Med-Bay and confronted by Delacourt, whom he fatally wounds. He orders his men to start killing the politicians on the station while he dons a more advanced exoskeleton suit to hunt down Max, planning to initiate the coup protocol for himself.

Spider lands on Elysium and finds Max. Spider makes a deal with Max to have his men protect Frey and get her daughter to a Med-Bay in exchange for the data. They make their way to the computer core, where they are confronted by Kruger. Max and Kruger engage in combat, which ends with Max managing to disable Kruger's connection to his suit; Kruger responds by attempting to kill them both with a grenade, but only kills himself. Spider and Max connect to the computer and Spider realizes that the data will kill Max if he downloads it. Max says his goodbyes to Frey and initiates the download, which kills him. The Elysium computer reboots, allowing Frey to heal her daughter. The robot police arrive but are unable to arrest Spider, as everyone on Earth is now considered a citizen of Elysium. Medical shuttles loaded with Med-Bays are dispatched to Earth to begin healing everyone who needs help.


  • Matt Damon as Max Da Costa, a former criminal now on parole. Max was raised in an orphanage with Frey and promised her that one day he would take her to Elysium.
  • Jodie Foster as Defense Secretary Jessica Delacourt. She is responsible for the security on Elysium and resorts to illegal means to keep immigrants off the torus.
  • Sharlto Copley as Agent M. Kruger, a black ops agent working secretly for Delacourt. He is a psychopathic killer with a reputation for using extreme measures.
  • Alice Braga as Frey Santiago, Max’s childhood best friend. She works as a nurse and is a single mother to a daughter with leukemia.
    • Valentina Giron as young Frey
  • Diego Luna as Julio, Max's best friend.
  • Wagner Moura as Spider, a hacker and information thief who runs clandestine flights to Elysium.
  • William Fichtner as John Carlyle. He is CEO of Armadyne Corp, the company that designed and built Elysium.
  • Brandon Auret as Drake, one of Kruger's soldiers.
  • Josh Blacker as Crowe, one of Kruger's soldiers.
  • Faran Tahir as President Patel, leader of Elysium.
  • Emma Tremblay as Matilda Santiago, Frey's daughter who is dying of cancer.
  • Jose Pablo Cantillo as Sandro, one of Spider's hackers.
  • Adrian Holmes as Manuel
  • Jared Keeso as Rico
  • Carly Pope, Ona Grauer and Michael Shanks as CCB agents
  • Terry Chen as CCB Technician


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]

The main role was first offered to Watkin Tudor Jones, a South African rapper, who, despite being a fan of District 9 and having a D9 tattoo on his inner lip, did not take the role.[11] 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 and so Blomkamp moved on to Damon as his next choice.[12]

With a production budget of $115 million,[13] 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.[citation needed] Matt Damon shaved his head for the role of Max. Re-shoots took place in October 2012.[14]

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.[15] 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, some of the software that was used for the visual effects were Autodesk Softimage.[16]

The film's music score was composed by newcomer Ryan Amon and recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the Philharmonia Orchestra.[17] The soundtrack was released on August 6, 2013.


In October 2013, a lawsuit was filed by Steve Wilson Briggs accusing the producers 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.[18] On October 3, 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][26]

Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 65% based on 262 reviews and an average rating of 6.5/10. 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."[27] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[28] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[26]

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]

In a research article entitled "Elysium as a Critical Dystopia", Tanner Mirrlees and Isabel Pedersen argue that "Elysium communicates a 'critical dystopia' that illuminates and interrogates present day global capitalism's worst social, political, ecological and technological conditions, but shows them being resisted and changed, for the better."[30]


Art Directors Guild 2014
Award Category Nominee Result Ref.
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)
Nominated [31]
Golden Schmoes Awards 2013
Award Category Result Ref.
Golden Schmoes Best Sci-Fi Movie of the Year and Biggest Disappointment of the Year Nominated [32]
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)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2013. Archived from the original on October 18, 2013. 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). Archived from the original on December 19, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  5. ^ "SDCC: 'Elysium' Viral Launches". ComingSoon.net. CraveOnline Media, LLC. July 20, 2011. Archived from the original on September 4, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2011.
  6. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (April 8, 2013). "Elysium: Matt Damon's Action Movie for the 99%". Vulture. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike (January 20, 2011). "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. pp. 36–43.
  9. ^ "The Future is Now: 'Elysium' Mega-Trailer and Two More Clips". Rogue. Archived from the original on January 7, 2020. 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. ^ Michaels, Sean (July 18, 2013). "Eminem and Die Antwoord's Ninja both turned down lead in sci-fi film". TheGuardian.com.
  12. ^ "Matt Damon stepped in for Eminem in 'Elysium'". CNN. August 1, 2013. Archived from the original on September 27, 2020. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  13. ^ "Neill Blomkamp talks 'Elysium'". YouTube. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  14. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (October 10, 2012). "Matt Damon Has a Small Part in Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem". Vulture. Retrieved May 2, 2023.
  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. ^ "Creating the Details of Elysium's Luxury World". CreativeCOW. Archived from the original on September 28, 2020. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  17. ^ Siegemund-Broka, Austin (June 2013). "'Elysium' Composer on How to Write an 'Organic' Score (Hint: Hire Monkeys and Mosquitos)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  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 News. Bloomberg Law. Archived from the original on July 8, 2018. 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. Archived from the original on November 16, 2018. 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. ^ a b "Elysium's' Final Weekend Cume: Less than $30 Million". Variety. August 12, 2013. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  27. ^ "Elysium (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  28. ^ "Elysium Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  29. ^ "New 'Alien' and 'Chappie' Director Neill Blomkamp On 'Elysium': 'I F*cked It Up'". uproxx.com. February 26, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  30. ^ Mirrlees, Tanner; Pedersen, Isabel (September 1, 2016). "Elysium as a critical dystopia". International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics. 12 (3): 305–322. doi:10.1386/macp.12.3.305_1.
  31. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (February 8, 2014). "'The Great Gatsby,' 'Gravity,' 'Her' Win Art Directors Guild Honors". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 8, 2024.
  32. ^ "Golden Schmoes Winners and Nominees (2013) | JoBlo.com Movie Network". Retrieved April 8, 2024.

External links[edit]