Sony Pictures Entertainment and MRC have agreed to co-produce and co-finance Chappie, the next film from writer-director Neill Blomkamp, it was announced today by Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures and Hannah Minghella, president of Production for the studio, and MRC. The film will be marketed and distributed worldwide by Sony Pictures.

Blomkamp will direct the film from a screenplay he has written with Terri Tatchell. He will also produce the film with Simon Kinberg. Production is expected to begin this fall.

Chappie tells the story of a robot imbued with artificial intelligence who is stolen by two local gangsters who want to use him for their own nefarious purposes. The film will star Sharlto Copley as the voice of Chappie, with Ninja and Yolandi Visser, voices of the South African Zef counter-culture movement and members of rap-rave duo Die Antwoord, as the two gangsters.

Related: Over 20 Chappie Photos Featuring Hugh Jackman

Commenting on the announcement, Doug Belgrad had this to say.

"We're huge fans of Neill Blomkamp - it's a real thrill to be continuing our relationship with such a visionary and important filmmaker. Neill has proven that he is a true original voice and we expect that Chappie will strike a chord with worldwide audiences in the same way that District 9 and Elysium have. We love the script he and Terri have written and we're looking forward to working again with our friends at MRC."

Modi Wiczyk, co-CEO of Media Rights Capital, also issued the following statement.

"Neill is an incredibly talented and bold artist and we are proud to continue to support his work. We are looking forward to partnering with the team at Sony on Chappie."

The announcement comes as Sony Pictures and MRC released Elysium, Blomkamp's second feature, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, which Blomkamp wrote and directed and also produced with Bill Block and Simon Kinberg. Elysium opened at #1 in the U.S. this weekend, and was also #1 in Russia, Sweden, Taiwan and Ukraine. Sony Pictures also released Blomkamp's first feature film, District 9, which took in over $200 million worldwide and earned four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

Hannah Minghella and Rachel O'Connor will oversee Chappie for Sony Pictures; Brye Adler will oversee for Media Rights Capital.

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