You could say the sequel to 2013’s “World War Z” is dead, or, perhaps more accurately, it’s in limbo. Paramount’s zombie drama was just pulled off the release schedule this week — a kind of amusing move given the project has no director and hasn’t shot a lick of film. How in the world was it ever going to come out on June 9, 2017? The answer is that it wasn’t and Par pulled the film off the schedule waaaay after the fact. With no director or prep, they essentially knew a year in advance they weren’t hitting a summer 2017 release date on a major blockbuster.
What’s been going on with the sequel? Not a lot. “A Monster Calls” director J.A. Bayona was originally attached to direct, but he exited the project in January 2016, telling THR at the time that he’d not been given enough prep time. “I loved those guys at Paramount and [Pitt’s] Plan B,” he said. “I just can’t work like that” (he eventually moved on to “Jurassic World 2“).
Last we heard, Brad Pitt was trying to coax his buddy David Fincher to direct the film, and this made sense given their relationship. Fincher has directed Pitt three times, in “Seven,” “Fight Club,” and “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button” and his name came up in connection with “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” and many of Fincher’s projects — the actor is one of his first go-to guys when conceiving a film. But that was a year ago.
Now THR reports that Fincher is still really interested. “He really would like to do it,” says a source of Fincher’s interest. “It’s up to Paramount.” Apparently writer Dennis Kelly, creator of the buzzy British show “Utopia” which Fincher had developed for HBO (they killed it last year for being too expensive), had also written a new take on the “World War Z” sequel script that enticed Fincher even more.
Apparently Paramount are dragging their heels — Fincher has been interested for some time now — and are eyeing a 2018 or 2019 release date, but are bold enough to put the film back on the schedule. And budget isn’t actually an issue despite the filmmaker not exactly being known for his thriftiness (‘Dragon Tattoo’ cost $90 million without marketing and thus wasn’t at all financially successful).
Fincher could make it for less than the $190 million-costing original, but Paramount’s Brad Grey isn’t ready to pull the trigger even though he is tight with Brad Pitt (which is eye opening considering that relationship). One reason could be the sting of the original film which ran way over budget (reportedly costing skywards of $250 million), and had to stop production to fix the ending (several endings were shot and scrapped and several writers were enlisted to “fix” the movie including Damon Lindelof who is largely credited with saving the picture). The intense behind-the-scenes drama was so heated even celebrated cinematographer Robert Richardson (“JFK,” “The Aviator,” “Inglourious Basterds“) took his name off the picture.
If they wait too long, whatever momentum and buzz “World War Z” had might have evaporated. Either way, Fincher is currently busy with Netflix’s “Mindhunter,” and Brad Pitt is dealing with custody issues which could be further hampering the project. Fingers crossed, but I wouldn’t bet we’ll hear an answer anytime soon.