One of the great what-ifs in the movie industry is a major studio letting David Fincher make a zombie film. It almost happened. The Social Network director was on board to helm World War Z 2 for Paramount. But the studio backed out at the last minute over budget concerns, which is understandable given the costly production of the first movie.
Mireille Enos, co-star of World War Z, doesn’t care about how much it will cost, though. She just wants to make another one, as does Brad Pitt.
“It seems to have a little curse hanging over it,” Enos told Variety. “We were all lined up to go. We had Fincher, we had a beautiful script and then it just didn’t happen.”
She isn’t wrong about a possible curse on the sequel. Paramount announced plans for a follow-up shortly after the original hit theaters in 2013. J.A. Bayona was the pick to direct with a Steven Knight script, but other commitments forced Bayona to leave the project. Cut to 2017 and the studio is swinging for the fences with Fincher. A later report said WWZ2 was set to begin filming in the summer of 2019, but by February of that year, the sequel was dead.
“It seems like such a shame for it not to be made,” Enos told Variety. “The first one was so good.”
The production of WWZ is the stuff of legend. Initially costing $125 million, the budget ballooned to between $190-$270 million thanks to extensive rewrites resulting in the entire third act needing to be reshot. What was a massive battle between humans and zombies in Russia became a more contained finale involving a small group of people at a clinic fighting off the undead while developing a cure.
The major shift in the ending caused Paramount to delay the film for six months, hence the budget. In the end, the movie was a success, grossing more than $530 million worldwide. To this day, it’s still Pitt’s biggest hit. But it didn’t make that much money, which is why the studio has been reluctant about the sequel, which would have cost upwards of $200 million.
Coming off of an Oscar win for Pitt, one could argue this would be the best time to make World War Z 2. But then again, I don’t think many people would flock to theaters to watch a movie about a global pandemic right now.