Ever since World War Z hit theaters in 2013, the sequel has been in developmental hell. Most recently, it was in David Fincher's hands, but Paramount Pictures didn't seem to be in a hurry to greenlight it and the reason has just come to light -- the World War Z sequel is officially dead.
Fincher and his team were proposing a budget that was much lower than the original movie, which featured Brad Pitt trying to find his family in a post-zombie apocalypse. That original budget was $190 million, including reshoots, but Fincher's numbers were still too high for Paramount's comfort levels.
It has been six years since World War Z hit theaters, so the chance of diminishing returns had to weigh heavily in the minds of the studio execs. On the $190 million budget, the original movie only made $202 million domestically and $540 million worldwide. The costly reshoots make those numbers look better than they really are.
Based on the novel by Max Brooks, the movie moved away from the story that made that 2006 book a bestseller. The book looked at the zombie apocalypse from different angles, seeing how different countries dealt with it while trying to discover the root of the original outbreak.
Instead, the movie went through four different screenwriters and ended up telling the story of a United Nations investigator (Pitt) who traveled the world trying to find a way to stop the epidemic. It ended up with him trying to survive and eventually find his way back to his family, where he declares that the war has just begun.
It was clear that the movie was setting up a franchise. Original director Marc Foster originally said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that he viewed that first movie as the start of a trilogy.
After Foster left the project, J.A. Bayona signed on to direct the sequel. When he left, Pitt reached out to Fincher, who he had worked with on movies like Se7en, Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
This is yet another roadblock against Fincher, who also watched his proposed Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy die before it ended up with a completely different sequel in 2018. However, for Paramount, it might have had less to do with the director and more to do with finances.
Even with Fincher at the helm, there was no guarantee that a World War Z sequel would be financially successful. Fincher has not directed a movie since 2014's Gone Girl.
Ultimately, Paramount doesn't release as many movies each year as other major studios and it just announced two more Mission: Impossible sequels, which should use up a lot of the studio's budget. Those movies will hit theaters in 2021 and 2022.