After months stretching into years of personnel changes, rewrites, unceremonious departures, rumors, hearsay, and scuttlebutt, World War Z’s long-delayed sequel may finally be good to go. Paramount’s been on the hunt for a director for some time now after the original film’s helmer Marc Forster chucked up the proverbial deuce back in 2013. Industry types have bandied about David Fincher’s name as the most probable replacement, and a big lead feature about newly crowned Paramount head Jim Gianopulos in The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Fincher’s in, this is real, and it’s all happening. In the parlance of Entourage, “David Fincher’s doing the movie!”
Remember David Fincher? You know, the guy whose name shows up in the credits for House of Cards? He directed movies once upon a time in 2014, but the genre maestro has been taking it relatively easy since Gone Girl shocked and tantalized audiences a few years ago. As he’s busied himself with TV work (he recently shot the Mind Hunters pilot for filmmaker-poacher Netflix), he’s batted around the occasional film offer without making any hard commitments. There were rumors of a grand adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea floating around for a while there, but those dissipated when Fincher revealed that he was being courted to helm the sequel to zombie spectacle World War Z. One of those two things has now come to pass, and here’s a hint, it’s not the one that takes place underwater.
While Brad Pitt has been in a metric ton of movies over the years, it might blow your mind to learn that he’s never been in one set in space. While he’s certainly done plenty of supernatural tales like World War Z and Interview with a Vampire, Twelve Monkeys is probably the closest he’s gotten to big, brainy sci-fi, and all of those have been firmly Earthbound. That might change if, since his World War Z sequel has been put on hold and possibly cancelled, Pitt decides to board James Gray’s Ad Astra.
On Monday, Paramount did a little housecleaning. The studio removed two major movies, Friday the 13th and World War Z 2, from its schedule, and both are currently in limbo. The World War Z sequel didn’t even have a director, so it looked like the project was being abandoned for good, or at least put on the way back burner while the studio focused on something else. But director David Fincher, who has expressed a lot of interest in the project, is reportedly still down. It’s up to the studio now.
How many times will you be afforded the opportunity, in this lifetime, to look at Brad Pitt and say, “In your dreams”? Probably never to his face, unless your name is David Fincher, and your old pal Brad Pitt comes to ask you for a favor, and that favor happens to be directing a sequel to World War Z. Can you even imagine David Fincher directing a sequel to someone else’s movie — especially one that was just OK?
For those interested in film industry inside baseball, World War Z was genuinely fascinating. The production was plagued with one disaster after another, Brad Pitt clashed with director Marc Forster, and the final 40 minutes of the film were completely scrapped, rewritten from scratch, and reshot. And yet the finished film was pretty good and a big financial success. In fact, it’s the highest grossing film of Pitt’s career so far, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s back for the sequel, which has officially landed a release date.
It’s been a little while since we’ve gotten an update on the ‘World War Z’ sequel, and it hasn’t been clear if the new film would feature any of the characters from the first installment, or if it would take a page from Max Brooks’ original book and focus on a new story and characters. According to writer Steven Knight, it’s going to be the latter, as he approaches writing the story with a “clean slate.”