J.A. Bayona helmed the monsoon disaster pic The Impossible, but he might be taking on something close to that title as Paramount and Skydance have signed him to oversee figuring out a sequel to World War Z. The first film, which was directed by Marc Forster and released last summer, was perhaps the most maligned film in memory prior to its release, certainly for a film that actually turned out to be quite good. The film went significantly over budget, when basically the last third was scrapped for a tense, contained conclusion. Trouble is, Brad Pitt’s United Nations staffer effectively solved the zombie quandary.
The original scrapped ending featured a bloody mano a mano battle against humanity and zombies in Russia that led seamlessly into a second installment. But the studio and Forster felt it was all too much, after the show-stopping insect swarm of zombies that overwhelmed Israel. It turned off audiences and the drastic decision was made that nobody would want a sequel if they walked out disliking the first film. Even at a cost of $220 million or higher, depending on who you ask, and another $125 million to launch the film globally, WWZ‘s $540 million global gross made a sequel possible. How they make the storyline anything more than mop-up duty to eradicate the flesh eaters will be the challenge facing Bayona and Pitt’s Plan B. The Max Brooks book was written with a UN inspector looking back at the zombie chaos after the war was won, with testimony from survivors all over the world. So there’s no real road map for this yet and that will have to be solved on the page before anything else happens. I’m skeptical this one actually comes to fruition, but of course they have to try. If they do figure it out, it’s an opportunity for the CAA-repped Bayona, the Spanish helmer whose breakout film was The Orphanage.