We awarded this year's World War Z movie with the "Best Frankenstein Job" Award for 2013 - and while that "honor" is (obviously) partly tongue-in-cheek, it's not altogether unfitting either. This was a project that started to look like a car wreck in the making, when the surprising decision was made to abandon the original ending and reshoot the entire third act (causing the budget to balloon to $190 million).
However, at the end of the day, the people behind the globe-trotting zombie blockbuster manage to cobble the disparate pieces of the movie together to form a decent, if unremarkable, final product. More importantly, from a studio perspective, World War Z grossed $539 million worldwide (a career-high for star Brad Pitt); and thus, in the process, kept Paramount's nearly-forgotten hopes for a WWZ film trilogy alive (no pun intended).
The news of WWWZ undergoing extensive pickup-shooting (nearly two months' worth) brought with it rumors that the situation was so volatile that Pitt and director Marc Forster had stopped talking to one another. Most of the main players on the project have since denied that the situation ever became so uncomfortable; that includes co-writer Damon Lindelof, who was the primary architect for the revamped third act. Nevertheless, an update from THR on the developing WWZ sequel - revealing that Forster won't return as the director on the next installment - comes as little to no surprise.
This nugget of information was contained within a larger article focused on Pitt's career status (hat tip to Bleeding Cool for catching it), which included another vague update on the status of the WWZ sequel from the actor:
Plan B also is developing a sequel to ['World War Z'], which still is in its nascent stages, though director Marc Forster won't be back. "We are talking about it," says Pitt. "We are going to investigate a script. We have a lot of ideas we will cull from. Nobody is writing just yet, but we are compiling our ideas."
Honestly, even if we ignore WWZ's production woes and the many headaches it undoubtedly caused for Forster (which probably in part explains him not returning for the sequel)... this might be for the best. Forster is generally regarded as being more capable at - and, in turn, more comfortable with - plot and/or character-driven filmmaking (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction) than spectacle and/or action-centric storytelling (Quantum of Solace, World War Z). Considering that the WWZ followup seems likely to bear a stronger resemblance to the first two-thirds of its predecessor (not the more intimate and comparatively minimalistic third act), Forster's departure feels appropriate.
Speaking of which - what, exactly, is the direction that Plan B and Paramount want to take with the next WWZ installment? Well, as Pitt's protagonist acknowledged in the final minutes of the first movie (via ominous voiceover), the fight between the normal human population and the Z-infected hordes is far from over - and there's plenty of material in Max Brooks' source novel that remains untapped onscreen, as Pitt acknowledged in a previous interview:
“We have so many ideas on the table from the time we spent developing this thing and figuring out how the zombie worlds work… We think we have a lot of stuff to mine from.”
It's fairly obvious that plans for a WWZ sequel (or two) were placed on the back-burner while the first movie was being overhauled, so it might be a significant amount of time before Pitt (or anyone connected with the project) has something more substantial to offer - much less, a replacement director for Forster is announced. That said, there is certainly potential for the next zombie battle to be easier to construct; not to mention, smarter and more exciting to watch than the first one.
Let us know if you want to see a World War Z sequel in the comments section.
World War Z is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.