In Hollywood, the state of a big-budget movie can change at the drop of a hat. Take 2013’s World War Z, for instance. After a cavalcade of behind-the-scenes drama — which included creative differences, mass script rewrites, a complete reshoot of the movie’s third act, and a bloated budget of 200 million dollars — it’s a wonder that the project even made it to theatres. But once it did, the movie proved its worth by raking in roughly 540 million dollars worldwide.
World War Z ended up giving Brad Pitt his biggest movie to date. And given his choice to develop Max Brooks’ bestselling novel, which tells the tale of a worldwide zombie outbreak through the oral history format, that big-screen success felt like a signal that new life was about to be pumped into the zombie genre.
Yet one obstacle after another has left the highly anticipated follow-up plagued with multiple delays. Director and screenwriter changes, multiple release dates, and even complete removal from Paramount’s release calendar have all occurred for the sequel to World War Z. Throughout the commotion, rumors about the film’s status as a work in progress have circulated, speculating on its possible fate. What’s the latest on Brad Pitt’s zombie follow-up project? Here’s everything we know about World War Z 2.
Brad Pitt’s back as Gerry Lane
Variety reports that Brad Pitt will return for a sequel to World War Z. Given the first film’s grosses, that may not necessarily seem like a surprise, but aside from Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen, Pitt hasn’t made a habit of appearing in sequels. Even though he’s a global star, he prefers to work on films that have a strong focus on the characters and a compelling plot. Even though he’s also had roles on The Jim Jeffries Show and as a weatherman, you never know what he’ll do next! Who are we to judge?
If you take a look at the actor’s IMDb profile, you’ll see that he’s been extremely busy since World War Z came out in theatres in 2013. He’s stayed in demand and that’s a good thing, but regardless of whatever other projects he has on his plate, he’s remained the star and producer of this big-budget sequel. And it’s a good thing he’s holding on so tight to the reins because World War Z 2 would probably fall apart without Pitt’s leadership as former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane.
Mireille Enos is also set to return
World War Z 2 will also feature Mireille Enos, who previously played Gerry Lane’s (Pitt) wife Karin. In a 2016 interview with Digital Spy, Enos confirmed her return, saying “There’s been some shifting [with directors] and so the schedule’s a bit up in the air, but it’s happening, and I get to be in it.”
Shifting directors and unclear schedules can cause problems when mapping out a production plan, and when you look at Enos’ recent work, it’s clear she’s been quite busy in front of the camera herself. As a result of her role as private investigator Alice Vaughan being axed from the canceled ABC series The Catch, actress Claire Enos has appeared in several projects with the streaming service Amazon, including Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, the Amazon/BBC Two adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, and a small-screen project with Joel Kinnaman (Altered Carbon, Robocop) on Amazon. Needless to say, Enos has a lot on her plate. However, it appears that she has already committed to working with Brad Pitt on World War Z 2 when it begins production.
Dennis Kelly joined the fold
The Wrap reported in 2014 that Steven Knight (Locke, Peaky Blinders) had been brought on board to pen the sequel to World War Z, just one year after the film had opened in theatres. As Knight revealed in a 2015 interview with Collider, he’d just submitted a draught to Paramount Pictures. At the time, the studio had no clear direction for the global zombie story. “How do we move this along?” was the question posed to Knight.
However, even though he is listed as the film’s screenwriter, it’s clear that continuing the story is a difficult undertaking for someone who created the characters in the first place. Not long after Knight chatted with Collider, Variety reported that Dennis Kelly, the creator of the U.K. conspiracy thriller series Utopia — which David Fincher attempted to develop for American TV at HBO — was hired to deliver a rewrite.
It may seem that the highly anticipated sequel may be hitting the same type of speed bumps the original film hit during its production phase, but it’s worth noting that everyone involved seems focused on the legitimacy of the story and not just the profits the film will hopefully make once finished.
From zombies to dinosaurs
Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible, The Orphanage) was all set to direct the World War Z sequel, but that all changed in January of 2016. According to Deadline, the director left the project over time constraints, calling the gig to helm the zombie actioner “one of the biggest Open Directing Assignments in town.”
According to THR, Paramount was having difficulty keeping Bayona on board for the World War Z sequel as of 2015. At the time, Universal was courting the director to direct the follow-up to Colin Trevorrow’s massively successful continuation of the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World 2. As Paramount struggled to secure a release date, it appears that Bayona’s holding agreement with the studio expired just a year later, releasing the director from his contract and saying, “While Bayona had hoped to release World War Z 2 this year, that has now fallen through. It would be an honor to work with him again in the future.”
Bayona officially signed on to direct the Jurassic World sequel in 2017, according to The Wrap, with a release date of June 22, 2018, in mind.
Scheduling conflicts abound
When J.A. Bayona left World War Z 2, it was difficult to get a firm grip on the production schedule. While multiple rewrites of the sequel script were being delivered to the studio, Paramount Pictures was restructuring its leadership. And then, in January of 2017, The Hollywood Reporter reported Paramount’s move to pull the project from its release calendar. Multiple attempts had been made to push back the film’s tentative release date from 2016 to 2017, according to Deadline, after it was reported by The Independent.
Because of the delay, Brad Pitt is now filming Ad Astra, a sci-fi thriller with Tommy Lee Jones. According to Variety, the science fiction film finds Pitt “playing a man who journeys across the solar system in search of his missing father, a dangerous renegade scientist.” Production on World War Z 2 was again pushed back to late 2018 so that Brad Pitt could reunite with Quentin Tarantino for the director’s Charles Manson-inspired Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is currently in post-production. “It’s unclear if the studio even had a choice in the matter,” wrote Bloody-Disgusting, “being that Pitt is the main producer and star of World War Z.” However, even if everything goes according to plan, the next World War Z film won’t be released until 2020 at the earliest.
David Fincher joins the zombie fight
In 2016, Paramount Studios brought on former Fox CEO Jim Gianopulos to set the company on firmer footing. World War Z 2 took place during a period of great uncertainty. With the loss of J. A Bayona as the film’s director, Paramount pulled the project off its calendar, leading to all sorts of speculation regarding whether this movie would ever see the light of day. And then, as SyfyWire reported, David Fincher jumped into the zombie fray.
According to Variety, Pitt had been doing his best to persuade Fincher to take over directing duties for some time. With Gianopulos in the proverbial captain’s chair, another piece of the puzzle fell into place. After years of working together on films like Fight Club, Se7en, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Pitt and Fincher developed a close working relationship. Gianopulos also supervised Fincher’s final film, Gone Girl, while at Fox. While there has yet to be an official greenlight for the big-budget sequel, things are looking up for World War Z 2.
A fruitful partnership
Having David Fincher return to direct World War Z 2 is a major coup, especially after the saga involving Brad Pitt and the original film’s director, Marc Forster. The conflict between Pitt’s franchise vision and Forster’s blockbuster plans is nicely summarised by screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, Sense8), according to Vanity Fair’s expose on the troubled production: “This action film was supposed to be a big, huge action movie that wasn’t very smart, but had a lot of big, huge action pieces in it. Why would you choose to make a Rambo vs. Zombies action film if you only wanted to make a Rambo vs. Zombies action film?”
Pitt needed a proven co-star for the follow-up, and Fincher was the most logical option. After directing four episodes of the hugely popular Netflix serial killer series Mindhunter, which he executive produced, a big-budget sequel may be a welcome change of pace. Fincher hasn’t directed a sequel since 1992’s Alien 3, and while his addition to the project brings high expectations, his attention to story and character would prove a welcome departure. “As long as there’s a fascinating power dynamic and I learn something about them,” the director told Collider in 2017, “I don’t care if the whole scene is five pages of two people in a car sipping coffee from paper cups.”
It won’t be a cash grab
There were a plethora of obstacles surrounding the original production of World War Z, leading to multiple rewrites and a constant clash between Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster. It’s safe to say that Max Brooks’ novel would’ve been a challenge for anyone to adapt to the big screen, but one look at Forster’s IMDb page and its clear action genre films aren’t in his wheelhouse. With David Fincher on board, it looks like a different strategy is being used to put the movie together.
As part of his promotion for Mindhunter, Fincher appeared on the Empire podcast, where he gave a brief update on the sequel’s progress. While discussing their approach to dissecting Brooks’ story, director David Fincher said, “We’re hoping to get a piece that’s an excuse to make a movie, not an excuse for a movie.” Brooks’ story spans 10 years and multiple countries. Even though it may seem like an obvious point, big-budget blockbusters these days prioritize action sequences over character arcs and plot development. Little White Lies was told by the director that “a lot of stones have been laid” in the process. “We’re just deconstructing it right now against the mythology that exists to see where we can go.”
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Rumors pit zombie against zombie
Not long after David Fincher was announced as World War Z 2’s new director, story details hit the internet. Take this leaked synopsis with a grain of salt; it’s been a while since Splash Report posted their exclusive report, and rumors like these are a dime a dozen. Having said that, there are a few intriguing plot points to be found within. The leaked story treatment alleges that the new movie picks up right where the first one ended. Political tensions across the globe are on the rise, while most human survivors against the global zombie outbreak end up relying on “a camouflage vaccine” that makes them invisible to the undead for 36 hours.
The synopsis goes on to claim a virologist located in Geneva by the name of Dr. Morel creates something called E29, which Splash Report describes as “an airborne virus that will make zombies attack each other.” To no one’s surprise, Dr. Morel vanishes just as the world’s labs prepare to copy his virus, prompting Pitt’s character to board a plane and set out to find him.
World War Z 2 confronted many ups & downs in the last 7 years – know it in detail!
Fans of World War Z 2 remain hopeful despite the lack of progress on the film’s rebirth. They have high hopes for World War Z and its creators and producers.
World War Z 2 is surely one of the most anticipated zombie-action-horror movies and is awaiting renewal over the last seven years. The first movie, World War Z premiered in London on June 3, 2013. It was selected to open the 35th Moscow International Film Festival. On June 14, 2013, the film had its New York and Los Angeles premieres, and on June 21, 2013, it was released nationwide in 2D and RealD 3D in the United States.
The viewers are highly waiting for World War Z 2 as the first received positive reviews for Brad Pitt’s performance. However, the movie also accumulated certain criticism for the anti-climax, outdated CGI, and lack of faithfulness to the source material. However, the movie had a commercial success across the world, grossing over USD 540 million against a production budget of USD 190 million. This made World War Z the highest-grossing zombie film of all time.
It was announced shortly after the first film’s release in June 2013 that Paramount Pictures would be making World War Z 2 a priority. In December of the same year, Juan Antonio Bayona had been chosen to direct the sequel. The progress continued for a sequel with the appointment of Steven Knight to pen the script in May 2014.
Fan excitement was sparked in May 2015 when it was announced that World War Z 2 would hit theatres on June 9, 2017. But Paramount Pictures announced in January 2016 that Juan Antonio Bayona left the project due to other commitments. In August 2016, Variety reported that World War Z 2 was not yet in production, and David Fincher had entered negotiations to be the director. In April 2017, it was reported David Fincher was close to a deal to sign on.
Paramount confirmed David Fincher as the director of World War Z 2 in June 2017 with Brad Pitt returning to reprise his role. Filming was about to commence in the fall of 2018 but Fincher was busy with his TV series Mindhunter. The film was canceled in February 2019 after several months of pre-production and staffing for principal photography in five countries.
After last year’s coronavirus pandemic spread, there was reportedly no longer any hope for World War Z 2. Currently, there is no positive update on the making of a sequel. However, fans are suggested to not give up their hope as we have seen the emergence of many sequels after decades of delay.