Paramount Pictures has set World War Z 2, a follow-up to the studio’s high-grossing June 2013 blockbuster, for June 9, 2017. The zombie apocalypse sequel, which does not yet have an official title, will find Brad Pitt again stepping into the role of Gerry Lane, a former United Nations investigator whose observations of the walking (and sprinting, and climbing) dead led to the pivotal discovery that zombies would not attack unhealthy humans.
After a troubled production period on the first film, Marc Forster vacated the director’s chair, leaving The Impossible‘s Juan Antonia Bayona to take the reins. Steven Knight (Locke, Eastern Promises) penned the script for the second installment, which will reportedly start with a “clean slate.” Paramount is keen to build a franchise around Pitt, especially one as zeitgeisty as World War Z, so it’s no surprise that Lane is returning, but it remains to be seen how Knight is planning to put his own spin on the series.
The first World War Z was a pretty considerable disappointment, especially given the excellence of Max Brooks’ source material. It suffered from an overlong plot, boring characters and a weak final act (a result of those aforementioned issues during shooting, and of the reshoots once Paramount decided the film needed a better ending). However, both Bayona and Knight are talented individuals with very strong bodies of work – and Bayona has already cut his teeth in horror with brilliant spooker The Orphanage, so horror fans will likely find themselves more satisfied with the atmosphere on this follow-up than they were on the first one (which was really much more of an action epic than a horror thriller).
World War Z 2 is currently going mano-a-mano with 20th Century Fox’s Fantastic Four sequel, but that will likely change. Given the bad buzz on this summer’s Fantastic Four, a betting man would bank on that sequel being the first to blink, but it’s easy to hope neither does. Superheroes versus zombies would make the weekend a pretty interesting microcosm of our current cinematic climate.