'World War Z 2'? What a difference a weekend can make.

Before this weekend, Marc Forster’s ‘World War Z’ was widely categorized as “Brad Pitt’s troubled zombie project.” Numerous publicized reports documented the contentious relationships between the star and his director. Screenwriter Damon Lindelof went on record to talk about a rewritten ending, which led to costly reshoots.

But a funny thing happened when ‘World War Z’ actually opened. Critics and audiences embraced the film, powering the apocalyptic zombie thriller to an impressive $66 million domestic opening weekend, and a worldwide total of $111.8 million with plenty more international markets still to come.

Against all odds, talk of 'World War Z 2' began, with The Hollywood Reporter confirming Sunday afternoon that Paramount is “reviving plans for further installments.”

That’s good news for fans of Pitt, this movie, and Max Brooks’ original source material, which seems to be where the studio will start when developing the next movie(s). Here’s what we know so far about ‘World War Z 2.’

How Did ‘World War Z’ End?


As you likely guessed, this segment contains MASSIVE SPOILERS regarding the film, so stop reading right now if you haven’t yet seen ‘Z.’

Still here? At the end of Forster’s film, U.N. investigator Gerry Lane (Pitt) has figured out that infecting surviving humans with harmful bacteria makes them temporarily immune to the zombies. He reunites with his family in Nova Scotia, while the military begins implementing Lane’s global plan.

But in a voiceover narration, Lane admits that the battle against the armies of the undead has just begun. Hello, 'World War Z'!

How Many More ‘Z’ Films Will There Be?


In the THR story, it’s noted that Paramount originally envisioned Forster’s ‘World War Z’ as the start of a trilogy, so there’s a very strong possibility that there will be at least two more films … so long as Pitt’s eager to continue playing the same character for two additional films.

(It’s worth mentioning that Pitt, over the course of his illustrious career, has only done two sequels – the two ‘Ocean’s’ sequels – so a 'World War Z 2' would be a rare move for an A-lister who has steered clear of franchises.)

While attending the Moscow premiere of ‘World War Z,’ Pitt told THR:

There is enough to mine from the book. We could barely get a fraction of the book in. So we'll see. We'll see.

One of the knocks against ‘Z’ is that it abandoned the first-person interview format of Brooks’ book, so hopefully the screenwriters will go back into the book and dig deep for interesting stories and characters to pull out for possible films.

When Will 'World War Z 2' Open in Theaters?


The earliest Paramount could get 'World War Z 2' into theaters would be 2015. Paramount’s in-development slate for that year includes ‘Mission: Impossible 5’ and ‘G.I. Joe 3,’ though neither has been solidified. The studio could use a ‘Z’ movie to anchor its summer season, or prop up its Holiday slate in November or December.

The good news, for Paramount, is that Pitt’s schedule – at the moment – is free. The actor recently wrapped parts in Sir Ridley Scott’s ‘The Counselor’ and Steve McQueen’s '12 Years a Slave.’ He’s set to transition to David Ayer’s World War II drama ‘Fury’ alongside Shia LaBeouf and Logan Lerman, but he would be free to shoot 'World War Z 2' after that … keeping it in the realm of possibility for a 2015 release date.

Who Will Direct?


While attending the Moscow premiere, Forster sounded less committal to the sequel, telling THR:

Let's see how this goes. We hope this movie goes well, and we shall go from there.

Obviously, coming off of a hit movie gives Forster plenty of more leverage for negotiating with Paramount. But if stories told during the rocky production are true, Pitt and Forster didn’t get along at times (the director denies that claim), and the reshoots and rewrites potentially might have been taken out of his hands. That doesn’t sound like someone who would be asked back for the sequel.

Thankfully, for Pitt and for Paramount, there are no shortage of filmmakers working today who already are working in the zombie field … or might want to take a crack at the rich horror environment in Brooks’ film. Hand the ‘Z’ reigns to Ti West, Jason Eisener, Ben Wheatley, Nacho Vigalondo or Adam Wingard, and see where they can take this franchise.

If Paramount’s smart, though, they’ll also keep screenwriters Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard on retainer. The duo punched up the original ‘Z’ script, and – if reports are accurate – concocted the new, suspenseful ending that saw Pitt’s character maneuver through a zombie-infested W.H.O. building. Given enough time, I think they could cull several engaging storylines to power at least two more ‘Z’ films, so long as Pitt is game.

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