2013's World War Z was a surprise success. Notwithstanding the world's undying obsession with zombies, the production was plagued with problems from the start and initially scored poorly with test audiences. Several re-writes and re-shoots later, it was amazing to see World War Z emerge from the tumult as a cohesive, enjoyable film. What might be even more of a shock is that it's the highest grossing zombie film of all time, according to Box Office Mojo.
Despite the financial success, a sequel was far from certain. The film's production was traumatic, and rumors surfaced that German-Swiss director Marc Forster (of Quantum of Solace fame) and star Brad Pitt were not on speaking terms once the film wrapped.
However, according to Cinemablend, plans for an as-yet-untitled World War Z 2 are in the works, albeit without Forster at the helm. Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayaona -- whose previous directing credits include horror The Orphanage and disaster film The Impossible -- is the man poised to step into Forster's shoes, while Pitt has signed on to reprise his role as Gerry Lane.
The man tasked with writing the screenplay is British writer Dennis Kelly, who is probably little known outside the UK but had a hand in the BBC's popular spy drama Spooks as well as the sadly short-lived, comic book inspired, highly-stylized conspiracy thriller Utopia.
Let's hope the sequel's screenplay is more cohesive than the original's, which went through numerous re-writes and was eventually credited to four different writers. Kelly certainly has plenty of potential storylines to pick from. World War Z was very loosely adapted from the popular Max Brooks novel of the same name, which acts as an "oral history" of the zombie epidemic told from several points of view.
Rather than following directly from where World War Z left off, the sequel (and any further films in the franchise) could tour the world, telling stories of the zombie apocalypse from across the globe. The novel covers all sorts of aspects; from all out war against the advancing zombies, to differing government responses, to small, individual stories of survival.
Personally, I think this is the direction World War Z 2 should take. Writer Dennis Kelly has shown with Spooks and Utopia that he can deftly juggle multiple stories within one overarching narrative, and I think the opportunity to detail the world's response to the zombie apocalypse is more entertaining than just following globe-trotting Gerry Lane on his one-man mission to find a vaccine.
At this time, it's not clear what direction the proposed sequel will take. Pitt's character will appear, we know that much, but that would not prevent the film from introducing us to other characters too. This approach would lend a freshness to the film and would theoretically allow for a number of sequels if the film does well.
We'll have to wait until summer 2017 to see what Pitt and his cohorts cook up, but it's clear there's life in this zombie franchise yet, and I can't wait to see what direction the sequel takes.
Sources: Cinemablend, Box Office Mojo, IMDB.