Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

World War Z 2 - Will It Ever Happen?

In 2013, "World War Z" arrived after a long and complicated road to the screen. A big-budget adaptation of Max Brooks' celebrated novel, it unleashed a wave of zombie chaos on moviegoers around the world and was met with good reviews and a strong box office haul. The film starred Brad Pitt and Mireille Enos as former U.N. investigator Gerry Lane and his wife, Karin, respectively, and it gave audiences a terrifying glimpse of a global pandemic that turned ordinary people into mindless flesh-eaters. Not your typical zombie horror movie, "World War Z" dazzled fans with relentless, pulse-pounding action and nerve-wracking, nail-biting suspense. 

Since its release, many have eagerly awaited news of a sequel, fueled by reports of development and comments from producers and the cast, who've all insisted that filming is just around the corner. Quotes from producer David Fincher, original director Marc Forster, and star Brad Pitt have continued to allude to a potential resurrection of the franchise. But after years of anticipation and a series of setbacks, fans have begun wondering if it will ever see the light of day.

While details remain elusive, the most recent reports have suggested that the long-awaited "World War Z" sequel is dead and will never be resurrected. Still others, like co-star Mireille Enos, believe it could still happen. As the buzz continues, the question remains — will "World War Z" ever return to the big screen? 

Why hasn't a World War Z sequel happened yet?

After a long and winding road to the screen itself, "World War Z" faced a mighty uphill battle to profitability, as it cost a whopping $190 million dollars to bring to life. But with a massive star in Brad Pitt, a thrilling, break-neck story, and plenty of explosive action, it drew massive crowds and ultimately pulled in more than enough to make it a hit. So what has been standing in the way of launching a second film in the series?

Similar to the first movie, the slow pace to get a follow-up assembled seems to be budget related, as detailed by The Hollywood Reporter in 2019. But that isn't the only problem the film has faced over the years, and script issues are something star Brad Pitt has highlighted as causing delays. "We gotta get the script right first to determine if we go further," he said during a sit-down video interview with Variety.

In 2017, Vanity Fair compared the troubled production to that of its predecessor, with the sequel's constant delays blamed on several factors — from the screenplay to a carousel of directors abandoning the project, scheduling issues with its star cast, and unforeseen issues with selected shooting locations. There was even an anonymous source who claimed that there was conflict between Pitt and original director Marc Forster. "Marc didn't have a lot to offer, and Brad probably shut him down a bit," they told the outlet. 

What have the cast and crew of World War Z said about a sequel?

Ever since the first movie's release, attempts to get a "World War Z" sequel have faced endless difficulties getting started. This has frustrated many involved with the film, who've been open about their displeasure with the long wait and the problems they've faced putting it together. "It seems to have a little curse hanging over it," said star Mireille Enos, while speaking with Variety in 2019. "We were all lined up to go. ... Then it just didn't happen."

Producer David Fincher, though, made it clear that he was a very busy man, and he wasn't willing to compromise his vision for a new entry in the series just for the sake of hitting a planned release date. "I worked on a show for HBO that didn't see the light of day and at the same time was doing ['Mindhunter' for Netflix], and then did ['Mindhunter']," he said on the Empire Podcast. "I've been working for about a year now with [writer] Dennis Kelly on 'World War Z' [sequel]. ... We're hoping to get a piece of material that's a reason to make a movie, not an excuse to make a movie."

Much more recently, though, the film's original director Marc Foster chimed in and threw cold water on the idea that a sequel might be in the cards. In an interview with The Digital Fix, he replied bluntly when asked about the potential second entry, "I don't think that sequel is coming anytime soon." 

What would be explored in a World War Z sequel?

Even though there have been multiple, separate attempts at assembling a "World War Z" film — from three different directors (but more on that later) — we still know surprisingly little about what would be featured in the proposed follow-up. That said, we do have a broad overview of what the story might entail, and it sounds like it would have been a good one. "We had really good story, which [David Fincher] shepherded, really strong story," Pitt told Collider in 2019. "The things he had planned for it just hadn't been seen before." 

In a brief chat with Variety, Pitt said part of the problem was actually settling on which story they wanted to pursue for the sequel. "We have so many ideas on the table from the time we spent just developing this thing and figuring out how zombie worlds work." But back in 2013, Pitt spoke with Entertainment Weekly at the first film's premiere and did hint that there was at least one possible direction. "There's tons of material to mine from the book, certainly, it's such an international scale," he said, suggesting we could see the story visit even more countries the second time around.

Mireille Enos echoed Pitt's comments about the quality of the script they'd settled on in her own chat with Variety. "We had a beautiful script. ... It seems like such a shame for it not to be made. The first one was so good." 

Who would star in a World War Z sequel?

If there is ever going to be a follow-up to "World War Z," we know that both Brad Pitt and Mireille Enos want to return as Gerry and Karin Lane. Pitt himself has been one of the film's biggest champions, as he's also served as a leading producer during its development, telling Variety, "We're going to do our best and see what we get out of it." 

Enos, meanwhile, has repeatedly talked about a desire to return to the dystopian zombie apocalypse. Even 10 years on, she's still interested, and in 2023, she once again addressed her disappointment that it hasn't materialized yet. "The script for the second movie was great," she said in an interview with The Wrap. "I wish the world could get to see it. We got really close to making a sequel. At one point David Fincher was signed on, there was a completed script, which was excellent, and then one thing and another, you know [and it never happened]. But never say never. I still think it would be great."

But Pitt and Enos aren't the only ones who'd like to come back. Fana Mokoena, the South African actor who starred as Gerry's colleague and United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Thierry Umutoni, says he expects to reprise his role as well. As he explained to Spl!ng, "I think I'll be in the 'World War Z' sequel when it comes back. I'm having conversations with producers and directors overseas at the moment."

Who would direct a World War Z sequel?

Surprisingly, one of the biggest troubles that the "World War Z" sequel has faced during its roller coaster development has been its challenge to find a filmmaker to helm it. One might expect Marc Forster to be back behind the camera, but while he was originally involved, he exited the project in late 2013. No reason was given, though unconfirmed rumors have suggested a clash with star Brad Pitt.

Almost immediately, though, director J.A. Bayona boarded the project off the strength of his work on "The Impossible" with Naomi Watts. Then, in 2016, the studio began pushing him hard to start production that summer, but according to the director, he needed more time. "There was a moment where we were about to start production, and I wasn't ready," Bayona told Den of Geek, adding, "We were very excited with the direction we were taking with the film, but somehow, we never found a way to connect it all together." Describing his departure, Bayona explained, "I said, 'Listen, I'm not the right guy for this. ... So I decided to step out of the project."

Perhaps they should have given Bayona the extra time he needed because it took almost a year for them to find a new director. After some serious lobbying from star Brad Pitt, Paramount turned to the film's executive producer, David Fincher, inking him to a deal to direct in April 2017. But the sequel went back into limbo with no director attached after being derailed by Quentin Tarantino. Wait, what?

How Quentin Tarantino is partly responsible for delaying a World War Z sequel

There's plenty of blame to go around for why a "World War Z" sequel hasn't happened yet. But in one of the strangest twists in the saga, it was actually auteur director Quentin Tarantino — who is not in any way involved with the production — who can at least be partially blamed for the sequel falling apart after David Fincher had signed on to direct. 

Late in 2017, Fincher talked about his preparations for "World War Z 2," telling Little White Lies, "A lot of stones have been laid. We're just deconstructing it right now against the mythology that exists to see where we can go." Things were heading in the right direction, but then out of nowhere, Quentin Tarantino threw a big monkey wrench into the works. That's because after he decided not to cast Tom Cruise in his next movie, he went with Brad Pitt, placing him as one of the lead roles for his 2019 film "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."

As reported by Variety's Justin Kroll on Twitter, Paramount — who was behind both movies — decided to push back the "World War Z" sequel so Pitt could star in Tarantino's project. Unfortunately, by the time things were back on track for "WWZ2," the whole thing went belly up. But what happened?

A final nail in the coffin

Even with Quentin Tarantino's delay and a reported June 2017 release day pushed back, it finally looked like a "World War Z" sequel was taking shape, with filming ready to go after Brad Pitt concluded his work on "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." The same month it had been originally scheduled to arrive in theaters, newly-installed Paramount chief executive and former 20th Century Fox chairman Jim Gianopulos steadfastly insisted to The Hollywood Reporter that the film was still a go and was in "advanced development," with Fincher in the director's chair and Brad Pitt starring.

But nearly six months later, Fincher was reportedly still working on the screenplay, and then a year later, its planned fall 2018 shooting date was pushed back. Reports blamed the latest delay on Fincher's work on the second season of the acclaimed Netflix crime drama "Mindhunter," but fans hoping that the "World War Z" sequel would be up next after he wrapped that production were in for a rude awakening. Because less than a year later, the entire project was shut down, just months before its final, for-real-this-time shooting date of June 2019.

According to IndieWire, Fincher had agreed on a smaller budget than the 2013 original, but the costs were still too high for Paramount, as the studio was hoping for a more modest production. Perhaps looking for something more bankable, Paramount instead chose to focus on the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, green-lighting two additional (and apparently final) installments in that series around the same time they canceled "WWZ2."

An unofficial World War Z sequel has already happened

Sure, the movie sequel to "World War Z" may be gestating in development hell, but that doesn't mean that fans have been entirely deprived of a continuation of the story. A semi-canonical sequel to the blockbuster film was released, but instead of in theaters, it was available as a video game.

Originally released in 2019, with an upgraded version subtitled "Aftermath" coming in 2021, the "World War Z" game does what star Brad Pitt had once teased in his comments about a proposed sequel — massively expanding the story across the planet. From the decimated New York and under-siege Israel we saw in the movie to Moscow, Tokyo, France, and now Vatican City, the undead plague has swallowed up the world, and the action sends players on first-person combat missions to try to end the threat. 

A first-rate FPS title released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, IGN gave the 2021 expansion pack a highly positive review with a 7.4 rating, calling it "a breath of flesh air," describing the new missions as "challenging, heart-pounding nightmare scenarios." If you have been dying for a sequel to the movie, "Aftermath" may be the closest you ever get.

How a World War Z sequel could still work

With so many years having passed since "World War Z," it might be a challenge to get a sequel to follow the same story that had originally been planned. At least some of it will likely need to be rewritten to account for the shift in time, but that doesn't mean it can't work. While some may have thought the zombie craze of the 2010s would have died off by now, it's still going strong, with Zack Snyder's "Army of the Dead" series and the Korean "Train to Busan" films proving there's still plenty of life left in the genre, and there may be no better time than now to make it happen.

Plus, with "The Walking Dead" airing its final episodes in 2022, there's now a big gap in fans' appetite, and "World War Z" could fill their bellies. As fate would have it, in March 2023, the original 2013 film found itself back in the news when it was added to Netflix and was rocketing up the viewing charts, landing in the top 10 most-watched movies on the service. After the horror flick proved that audiences are still loving the undead action and clearly craving more, now might be the right time to strike.

At the same time, Tom Cruise's "Mission Impossible" series is coming to a close pretty soon, and Paramount has struggled to get a new "Star Trek" feature film too. Looking for their next big blockbuster, turning back to the zombie series could be what the studio needs if they want another big ongoing franchise.