A giant sigh of relief must have occurred this past summer when the troubled blockbuster-in-waiting World War Z managed to become a solid player, despite endless behind the scenes setbacks that plagued the production. Typically news of delays, re-shoots and revised endings on huge tentpole movies are the early signals of giant bomb. Instead, the favorably reviewed zombie picture, based on the novel by Max Brooks, managed to become the highest grossing film of star and producer Brad Pitt’s career, and distributor Paramount Pictures and Pitt’s Plan B production company were given the greenlight for a second chapter. The causality of World War Z‘s production blunders seems to have fallen upon its director Marc Forster. It appears to be confirmed that he will not the upcoming sequel.
Forster, a German born filmmaker, first came on the scene with 2001’s Monster’s Ball, a scrappy independent melodrama that became a little engine that could, culminating in an Academy Award for its leading actress, Halle Berry, and catapulting the filmmaker to the first ranks up the Hollywood ladder. He followed that film with the J.M. Barrie biographical fantasy film Finding Neverland, which earned a Best Picture Oscar nomination, as well as a nom for its leading man, Johnny Depp. Other credits included Stranger Than Fiction, The Kite Runner and his first stab working within a franchise machine with James Bond film Quantum of Solace. World War Z marked his first time directing a start of a new franchise, an ever daunting mission considering the stakes of creating an original and expensive cinematic property. The production was an infamous for frequent news reports of budgets sky-rocketing, release date delays, and last minute re-writes (Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof was brought in to re-work the ending.)
An excerpt from an interview with Pitt in The Hollywood Reporter stated, “Plan B also is developing a sequel to 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.” Many fans of the novel were upset with World War Z‘s somewhat (though necessarily) truncated scope. The novel played out over a much more extended period of time, and followed humanity’s return from the brink to re-populate the earth following the zombie outbreak. it would be a gutsy call, but this could provide room for a very compelling dramatic story if the producers are willing to forego the run-and-gun attitude that was part of the first film’s success. Both the TV and video game versions of The Walking Dead have proved that there is an audience for dramas within the zombie subgenre, but World War Z may feel the need to differentiate itself from its small screen cousins.