Paramount’s World War Z movie adaptation is many things, chief among them being a surprise box office smash ($540 million worldwide) that managed to earn decent critical reactions, despite its vast departure from Max Brooks’ acclaimed source material and a revised third act that was (literally) put together after the first two-thirds of the movie had essentially been shot and edited.
However, for a film about the breakdown of global social order in the face of a seemingly unstoppable zombie pandemic, World War Z is (arguably) mostly exciting – not so much scary and genuinely horrifying, as is to be expected (based on the terrifying premise). It appears that may be remedied in the sequel that is currently in development, now that WWZ director Marc Forster has been replaced by a filmmaker with more experience in the field of generating scares and creeping moviegoers out.
THR is reporting that Juan Antonio Bayona has signed on to direct the WWZ followup, after having met with and impressed Brad Pitt (who will produce the project, in addition to reprising his role as highly-skilled ex-UN employee Gerry Lane). The search is now on for a writer to pen the script (under Bayona’s supervision), but it remains uncertain what the story will entail this time around. Well, besides people fighting zombies, anyway.
Of course, there’s many a freak and disturbing scenario that remains open for adaptation from Brooks’ source material, which is a collection of interviews with survivors about their experiences during the zombie virus’ worldwide breakout. Pitt has indicated that the plan is for the WWZ sequel to explore the post-zombie invasion world in greater depth, so it’s certainly possible that some of the fan-favorite incidents detailed in Brook’s novel will end up being the inspiration for various scenes and/set pieces in the next film.
Bayona not only has experience with disaster cinema spectacle – having directed the Oscar-nominated drama The Impossible about the devastating 2004 South Asian tsunami – but also pure horror genre fare, having directed the acclaimed Spanish-language ghost feature The Orphanage: a movie that mixes real terror with poignant drama (and a film that may be getting an American remake makeover in the future). Good choice for a WWZ sequel, I say.
As for when the World War Z sequel will open in theaters: the obvious (half-joking) response would be 2015, but that possibility is actually somewhat feasible. Yes, the year is filling up with tentpole sequels and reboots at a impressive rate, but so far Paramount only has a new Friday the 13th movie slated to arrive that March, followed by the animated film Monster Trucks in late May and Terminator 5 in July. So, there’s room for Pitt’s next battle with the infected hordes to open in theaters that year, even though it’ll have to move quickly to make up for the slow start (there’s a zombie joke in there, but moving on…).
Of course, a Summer 2016 release might be more manageable, putting the World War Z sequel on course to arrive during the same time of year as Paramount’s next Star Trek installment (after the first WWZ opened within the same time frame as Star Trek Into Darkness around mid-2013).
More on the World War Z sequel as the story develops.