While “World War Z” is now viewed as the modern-day runaway film project and all that implies of ego—hubris, irresponsibility and whatnot—the project began with the best of intentions. Brad Pitt’s Plan B Pictures, the same company that developed and won a Best Picture Oscar for “12 Years A Slave,” wanted to try to create their own franchise. Pitt, a producer/actor with diverse taste, wanted a movie his boys could enjoy when they grew up. They hired a respected and eclectic filmmaker Marc Forster (“The Kite Runner,” “Monster’s Ball”) and talented writers—Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof—but the project went south on them regardless when they realized the tone and rhythm of an action movie is much more complicated than they realized.
And while the press viewed it as a disaster in the making, the movie’s $540 million worldwide gross turned out to be the opposite of a trainwreck like “Heaven’s Gate” (and in fact is the highest grossing film of Pitt’s career). And for all its problems, it really wasn’t that bad of a tentpole in retrospect, it’s at times thrilling, unnerving and has a genuine anxious feeling of real-world terror. It’s certainly not perfect and its salvage job doesn’t always work either, but you can see it’s good intentions up on the screen – to resemble the thinking man’s tentpole.
With that worldwide gross and terrific DVD and VOD rentals to boost it, there was an audience for “World War Z” and so it’s easy to see why the filmmakers might try again and see if they can really nail the original idea the second time.
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Plan B is certainly sticking with the Plan B approach of hiring smart and talented filmmakers to continue the journey. Variety reports that “Locke” writer/director Steven Knight (an Academy Award nominee for his “Dirty Pretty Things” screenplay in 2004) has been hired to write the script. “The Impossible” filmmaker J.A. Bayona is attached to direct the zombie sequel and Brad Pitt is still onboard to return in the starring role.
Pitt likes to handpick his talent and he’s always had great taste. Clearly Pitt saw and enjoyed “Locke” Knight’s recent writer/directorial effort starring Tom Hardy – an incredible feat of a movie that’s completely compelling for 90 minutes even though it’s lead is stuck in a car on a phone for the entire film (no seriously, and yes, it’s worth watching) – because is in bed with the filmmaker already. This news comes on the heels of another recent announcement: Pitt is in talks to star in a World War II romantic thriller that Knight also wrote.
For extra credit, read our interview with Knight and Tom Hardy about their “Locke” collaboration.