World War Z overcame a fair amount of negative pre-release buzz – concerning its deviations from the source material and the fact that its entire original third act had been scrapped and re-shot – to gross over half a billion dollars worldwide in theaters and earn a decent (not great) reception from critics and general moviegoers alike. Paramount Pictures is thus moving ahead with a sequel, and has now settled on a 2017 release date for Brad Pitt’s next zombie fight.
Meanwhile, in news about a very different sort of sequel, Universal Pictures has settled on a release date for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – the followup to the surprise smash hit 2002 romantic comedy, written by and starring Nia Vardalos (who received an Oscar nomination for her script work). Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is now set to take on the (more than a little daunting) job of counter-programming to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016.
The original cliff-hanger ending to World War Z was ultimately dropped in favor of a climax that gave more closure to the film’s narrative; this might explain why World War Z 2 screenwriter Steven Knight – who has a pretty strong writing track record (Eastern Promises, Locke) with a few exceptions (Seventh Son) – has said the sequel will start with something of a ‘clean slate’. Directing the second WWZ installment is Juan Antonio Bayona, who is well-versed in the art of both horror (The Orphanage, Showtime’s Penny Dreadful) and large-scale disaster stories alike (The Impossible).
World War Z 2, for those reasons, has the potential to be an improvement on its predecessor, and at the same time a solid contender at the box office, when it opens on June 9th, 2017. The only other film currently scheduled for that date is 20th Century Fox’s Fantastic Four 2, though the superhero sequel may well end up being moved away; it will no doubt in part depend on how Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot performs commercially, when it arrives later this year.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, just like its predecessor, will be written by and star Vandalos as Toula Portokalos. John Corbett is prepped to reprise his role as Toula’s romantic interest-turned husband Ian Miller, while Ellen Kampouris (Men, Women & Children) has joined the sequel’s cast – and though it’s not confirmed, it’s speculated that 17-year old Kampouris (who is half-Greek, as it were) will play Toula and Ian’s daughter. Plot-wise, the sequel will see the Portokalos clan reunite for another wedding where (according to a report from The Wrap) “a family secret will be revealed.” Kirk Jones (What to Expect When You’re Expecting) will serve as director on the film.
Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, as mentioned before, will be the alternative option for those moviegoers not interested in Zack Snyder’s Batman/Superman film, when both movies arrive in theaters on March 25th, 2016. Still, there’s fair reason to question how much demand there is for another Big Fat Greek Wedding installment, not least of all one arriving fourteen years later after the original. Big Fat Greek Wedding grossed $369 million worldwide on a $5 million budget in 2002, but that didn’t prevent the sitcom TV show continuation My Big Fat Greek Life – created by and starring Vardalos – from a quick death on CBS in 2003.
On the other hand, enough time has passed since the first Big Fat Greek Wedding released in theaters that nostalgia may factor into the equation for the sequel. That should at least help the film to survive its box office battle with DC Comic’s heavyweights.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 opens in U.S. theaters on March 25th, 2016. World War Z 2 (not the official title… yet) arrives on June 9th, 2017.