Given its rather public and torturous production problems, it comes as a twin surprise that World War Z opened this weekend to both fairly positive reviews (67% at Rotten Tomatoes) and strong box office. And with the film looking like it pulled in close to $112 million in ticket sales worldwide over the last three days, thoughts are already turning to a potential sequel.
Paramount Studios vice chairman Rob Moore has told the Hollywood Reporter that the studio will be heading into active development on a sequel. Of course, whether a sequel becomes a reality will depend on whether the film continues to perform strong at the box office, as it needs to recoup its $190 million budget. For the studio to publicly announce sequel development before that has actually happened shows a strong confidence in how the film will continue to perform over the next several weeks.
The film has been a passion project for star and producer Brad Pitt, who worked for many years to get it made and who has spent the last several weeks jetting around the world doing promotion for the film. It was at the Moscow premier of the film that Pitt stated that there was plenty of material from Max Brooks’ original novel, on which the film is based, that so far has not been touched and which would provide fertile ground from which sequels could grow.
As anyone, such as myself, who has actually read Brooks’ book will tell you, there is virtually nothing from it that made its way into the film outside of a worldwide zombie pandemic. Not that it started out that way. Initial screenwriter J Michael Straczynski’s two drafts for the film did much to preserve the novel’s structure of documents collected after the zombie pandemic had been stopped. Subsequent drafts after director Marc Forster was hired movie the script into a more conventional structure, casting Pitt as a globe-hopping United Nations inspector trying to trace the origins of the zombie plague that is currently sweeping across the planet. But that move also upset diehard fans of the book. Perhaps now that they can see what Pitt and his creative crew have done with this first film, they’ll be more amenable to future films that will be more faithful to the source material.