Paramount Pictures recently pulled World War Z 2 from its release calendar, along with Friday the 13th part 13, a move which raised questions about what some of the talent attached to the project will be getting up to next. Despite removing the movie from their release schedule, Paramount and Plan B will continue to work on WWZ 2 in the hopes of getting director David Fincher to commit. Brad Pitt was set to reprise his role of former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane as the star of the World War Z sequel, which begs the question: what will star in next, now that his calendar has been freed up?
One possibility is Ad Astra, as far as what Pitt may be starring in next goes. Ad Astra (Latin for "to the stars" and part of the Kansas state motto, which may indicate the film's setting), is a "futuristic sci-fi epic" slated to be directed by James Gray (The Immigrant), who also co-wrote the screenplay with Ethan Gross (Fringe).
Ad Astra is rumored to be picked up by New Regency, where - it should be noted - Pitt's production company Plan B currently has a deal; adding fuel to the fire that Pitt will be the star. Deadline's sources say that the project is being worked on to keep the budget low, looking toward active production beginning as early as this summer
This would not be the first time Pitt and and Gray have worked together. The Lost City of Z - Gray's latest film - was produced by Pitt and premiered at the New York Film Festival, where it was picked up for distribution by Amazon Studios to be released in April of this year. When The Lost City of Z was first in development, Pitt was supposed to star in the role ultimately played by Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim). Ad Astra would see Pitt playing Roy McBride, a mildly autistic space engineer traveling through the solar system in search of his father, who disappeared on a mission to Neptune twenty years previous in search of extraterrestrial life.
Heady science fiction films have erupted in popularity, thanks to movies like Gravity, Interstellar and Arrival in recent years. These films have garnered a plethora of critical success - including several Academy Award nominations (and wins for Gravity) - making projects in this genre particularly attractive to big name stars in all quadrants of the film industry. In the place of World War Z 2, a sequel that seems to be in danger of going past its expiration date, Ad Astra could be a great project for Pitt to attach himself to, with the potential to be a great film itself (based on what's been revealed so far).
On the other hand, given the popularity of all the movies mentioned above, Ad Astra may not feel as wholly original as it may once have. Pitt is not exactly known as a science fiction leading man, which hopefully provides him an interesting opportunity to expand his range and may lend a certain amount of clout to the production that could get it into active production more quickly. There is always concern that a movie could be rushed if it is going to jump into principle photography in the space of less than 6 months; but if it does wind up shooting soon, that should speak to everyone's confidence in the movie.
We will keep you up to date as we learn more about Ad Astra.