World War Z, released in 2013, had one of the more famously troubled development periods in recent years, going from years in development hell to a production that culminated with the film's original third act being completely re-written and re-shot. However, the film itself, when it opened in theaters, earned decent reviews and drew a blockbuster worldwide box office total that cleared $500 million.
Now, it’s sequel time, and the World War Z followup's screenwriter, Oscar-nominee Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Locke), has announced that he recently turned in a script draft for the project.
Knight, who also co-penned the upcoming Bobby Fischer biopic Pawn Sacrifice, told Collider that his mandate when he came onboard as writer for the World War Z sequel was to “move this along.” He also shared what he liked about the first movie (possibly foreshadowing what his approach with the second installment will be):
“I think the beauty of the first film was the way that it never paused for breath. It never spent a moment thinking, ‘Hang on a minute, we’d better tell the audience what this is all about.’ It stayed in the moment, it stayed with that person.”
During his Collider interview, Knight also reiterated what he's said about the World War Z sequel in the past; namely, that he started with a "clean slate” when he set to work on the script. This implies a certain independence on the sequel from both author Max Brooks’ source novel as well as the original World War Z film. It also suggests Knight is relatively free to make up new story material and/or draw certain elements from Brooks' original book (not used in the first WWZ movie), while still including UN agent Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family in the mix.
For observers of the connection between the success of a film’s production and the film itself, the World War Z follow-up is a fascinating case. Chaos is messy and expensive, and chaos on the first World War Z film resulted in four writers - Matthew Michael Carnahan, J. Michael Straczynski, Drew Goddard, and Damon Lindelof - contributing enough to receive credit... and yet, the final result was still a success. The challenge with the sequel will thus be to produce another successful globe-trotting zombie thriller, but in a completely different way than how its predecessor was created.
Chaos or no chaos, the second World War Z has a lot going for it. That includes, (still) one of world’s biggest movie stars in Pitt and the good timing of arriving when the zombie craze shows no signs of letting up (if the debut ratings of Fear the Walking Dead are any indication). Not to mention, both a promising director in Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage, Penny Dreadful) and screenwriter with a solid track record of solid, tight, well-written films, are leading the charge.
The World War Z sequel (official title TBA) is scheduled to reach theaters on June 9th, 2017.