While promoting his new film, “12 Years a Slave,” at the Toronto Film Festival, Brad Pitt was asked whether or not a sequel to “World War Z” was in the works.
“We’re certainly talking about it, yes,” he told Variety.
“World War Z,” one of the highest grossing films of 2013 and Pitt’s most successful movie ever, was the recipient of bad buzz early prior to its release but, in a reversal of fortune, went on to earn a whopping $533 million at the worldwide box office.
“We have so many ideas on the table from the time we spent developing this thing and figuring out how the zombie worlds work,” Pitt said in a new interview with Variety.
“We gotta get the script right first to determine if we go further.”
Based on the 2006 novel by Max Brooks, the zombie blockbuster underwent a complete rewrite and reshoot of the third act, hiking up the budget to nearly $200 million but “World War Z,” insiders say, ultimately prevailed thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign and positive reviews.
Paramount is said to be leaning on Pitt, whose company Plan B produced the film, to make another feature as the “World War Z” property was initially envisioned as a three-part franchise.
“We have so many ideas and so much information–we think we have a lot of stuff to mine from,” Pitt said.
Mireille Enos, who is in Toronto promoting her new film “Devil’s Knot,” told Variety said she’s on board 100% for the sequels.
“We’ll wait and see how the script turns out but yes, I’d love to come back.”
As for whom will write the second “World War Z” script remains to be seen.
Until then, Pitt next co-stars in and produces Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” out in limited release Oct. 18.
It’s still got a long way to go to profitability. But at least Brad Pitt’s zombie pic World War Z isn’t the dud everybody thought it would be. Paramount announced today it’s the #1 film worldwide this weekend with $100M international grosses and $263M global box office after just 10 days in release. The PG-13 film co-financed with David Ellison’s Skydance Productions in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films grossed a big $70.1M foreign this weekend to bring the international cume to a strong $135.3M. Domestically the film earned $29.8M in its second weekend, with a cume to date of $123.7M. With approximately one-third of the international market still to release, the roll-out continues next week with France and then Spain and Japan opening later this summer. Directed by Marc Forster from a screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof, this pic from Pitt’s Plan B banner is based on the popular novel by Max Brooks. Paramount moguls are giddy with relief after all that pre-release bad buzz which forced them to fix the movie before it came out. Much has been made of the film’s mega-cost: between $220M-$230M brought down to $200M by tax incentives in locations Scotland, Malta, England, and Hungary, or so the studio claims. But the media focused on the pic’s budget, plot, and production problems, including revamps and reshoots. Still hard to see how this film can earn out. But it won’t be a total write-off. Now a sequel is in the works.
The successful debut of the zombie apocalypse tentpole marks the actor’s biggest box office opening to date and could put him at the helm of his own studio franchise.
Has Brad Pitt caught franchise fever?
With the successful $111.8 million worldwide debut of zombie extravaganza World War Z — a passion project for the actor — Paramount actively will turn to developing a sequel, studio vice chairman Rob Moore tells The Hollywood Reporter. The tentpole earned $66 million in North America, the best opening for an original live-action tentpole since Avatar, and $45.8 million from its first 25 foreign markets.
World War Z initially was envisioned as a trilogy, but those plans were shelved when the movie ran into trouble, requiring extensive reworking of the last act. Initially set to open in December 2012, the movie’s release date was pushed back to June, prompting many in Hollywood to anticipate a blood bath.
But in a happy reversal of fortune, World War Z is off to a strong start, both in terms of its commercial and critical appeal. It will need to stay strong to make up for its $190 million budget, however. Paramount appears confident it will, judging by the fact that its reviving plans for further installments. It’s the biggest debut of Pitt’s career.
Skydance Productions co-financed World War Z, which also was made in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films. Pitt produced via his company Plan B, with Marc Forster directing.
Franchises are incredibly important to Hollywood studios and can likewise reap huge rewards for talent in terms of pay. And a World War Z series could mark a big win for Pitt in terms of his aspirations as a producer.
Pitt — one of the world’s most recognizable stars — has spent much of his career pursuing prestige projects, versus more commercial event pics. Exceptions were Troy and the Ocean’s Eleven franchise, although those were ensemble films.
His previous best box office opening, not accounting for inflation, was Mr. & Mrs. Smith in summer 2005 ($50.3 million). A year before, in May 2004, Troy opened to $46.9 million, now his third best debut.
Pitt has starred in a number of two-handers (Spy Game, Interview With a Vampire, The Devil’s Own), as well having a relatively small — but memorable role — in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. His last two films were indie mob pic Killing Them Softly, which bombed, and the critically acclaimed Moneyball.
Pitt aggressively helped market World War Z, attending numerous screenings across the country, as well as turning up at industry events, such as CinemaCon, the annual convention of theater owners in Las Vegas. He also has jetted around the world to attend various premieres of the movie.
“The great thing about this process was that it showed what a great partner and producer Brad is,” says Moore. “He made a true commitment.”
Moore said that when the studio deemed that there problems with the movie, Pitt and Forster worked closely with Paramount Film Group president Adam Goodman to “find the right movie. He stayed and worked when he could have gone off and shot another movie.”
The result — World War Z drew a fairly even ratio of males (51 percent) and females (49), while 33 percent of those buying tickets were under the age of 25, and 67 percent were over.
In addition to Pitt’s appeal, Moore says that females were drawn to the film’s storyline. In World War Z, a U.N. worker who is torn between protecting his family and leaving to find a cure for a worldwide pandemic turning humans into zombies.
Last week, when attending the Moscow premiere, Pitt himself hinted at a sequel and said there is plenty of material left over from Max Brooks’ novel, upon which the movie is based.
“I think the movie captured the public’s imagination with something that is fresh and different,” says Moore. “And certainly, Brad gave a superb performance.”