When filmmaker Zack Snyder and his producer (and wife) Deborah Snyder took their original zombie movie “Army of the Dead” to Netflix, the streaming giant offered them plenty that other studios (including the Snyders’ long-time home, Warner Bros.) balked at: a guaranteed, multi-pronged new franchise. As Deborah Snyder explained to IndieWire earlier this month, “I don’t think would have been made had it not been for Netflix. Everyone has to make these safe choices and I feel with the streaming services, they’re a little bit more bold and brash, and I think that’s really good for filmmakers.”
When Netflix signed on to the Snyders’ new project, they also greenlit a pair of prequels, including a film and an anime series, right out of the gate. The film prequel, “Army of Thieves,” was filmed during the pandemic (directed by “Army of the Dead” co-star Matthias Schweighöfer, who also stars in it) and will hit Netflix later this year. “Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas,” the anime series, Snyder has developed alongside Jay Oliva and will reunite most of the film’s cast to give voice to their characters. Snyder himself directed two episodes of the series.
With one film already out and two more projects on the way, the Snyders already have a big, juicy new franchise to call their own. Time for the inevitable question: what’s next? Ahead, Deborah Snyder walks through Netflix’s two planned prequels and the possibility that “Army of the Dead” just might get a sequel, too.
[One more time: This post contains spoilers for Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead.”]
©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection
What’s Next for “Army of the Dead”?
While Snyder won’t make any big announcements as to the immediate future of the zombie feature, there’s no doubt that her husband and his co-writer Shay Hatten have plenty of ideas in the can. “You always want the version that you’re doing to be as good as it can be, but I think there’s still more story to tell, and I know that Zack and Shay have a lot of ideas that are kind of fleshed out,” Snyder said. “If there was an appetite for another film, I think we’re ready to go.”
“Army of the Dead” is set after a zombie outbreak consumes Las Vegas, which is ultimately cut off from the rest of the world and is hours away from being nuked (presumably killing off any and all renaming zombies, including their leader, Zeus, allegedly patient zero in this entire bloody affair) when a band of brash thieves descend upon the city in hopes of rousting some casino cash.
Snyder’s film starts with a zippy and information-packed opening credits sequence that introduces that band of thieves (led by Dave Bautista), who first rose to acclaim doing search and rescue in the early days of the outbreak, back when it seemed possible to save Vegas, or at least some of its citizens. Years later, they’re drafted back into service, thanks to their unique skillset and understanding of both the zombies and their ravaged city.
The film ends with nearly every member of the crew dead and the city bombed to smithereens, though Omari Hardwick’s Vanderohe emerges as a somewhat surprising survivor, insulated from the blast by the casino vault the team previously infiltrated. Vanderohe gamely toddles off to Utah with a bag of cash, where it goes a long way toward hiring him a private plane bound for Mexico City. Before he lands, however, Vanderohe discovers he’s been bit, and is going to land at his final destination as, oops, a zombie.
Look no further than Vanderohe’s chosen safe haven as a clue to where a sequel might go. As Snyder explained, “It’s very intentional where they land, in Mexico City.” As IndieWire’s own Eric Kohn recently argued, there is plenty of fertile ground for a Mexico-set sequel.
©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection
What to Expect from “Army of Thieves,” An “Italian Job”-Esque Prequel
That international edge doesn’t seem to be limited to whatever potential sequels Snyder might make, but also to Schweighöfer’s upcoming prequel, “Army of Thieves,” which follows his German safecracker character Ludwig Dieter in the early days of the outbreak. The film is “very international, that was important for us,” Snyder said. “Not just forcing characters, but I think our world lends itself to having people from all over and we are reaching a global audience and I think that the prequel does that even more so. Part of it’s in German and part of it’s in French and the majority is still in English, but it’s also in international locations and it’s with an international cast and it’s just really fun.”
She’s not kidding about the fun thing: Snyder bills “Army of Thieves” as “a romantic comedy heist film.” “It stands alone, and [while] you could watch it because it’s the history of our safecracker, it’s also just this really sweet, funny film,” she said. “It’s set in our same timeline, but it’s not like a zombie movie. … It’s more like ‘The Italian Job,’ but it takes place in a world where these zombies exist in America and it’s causing instability in the banking institutions. They’re moving money around, so it’s the perfect opportunity for a heist.”
Another major plus: Schweighöfer is one of the breakouts of “Army of the Dead,” which introduces his geeky, charming, and very funny Dieter, who offers both comedic relief and some undeniable sweetness to the brash band of roughnecks he takes up with. “Dieter is so beloved, when we tested the movie, he was one of people’s favorite characters,” Snyder said. “To get more info of, where did he come from, how did he learn to crack safes, I think that’s really fun, too. He’s a great director. It’s a smaller-scale movie than ‘Army,’ but it looks really big.”
Schweighöfer, who has appeared in a number of films, both in Germany and America (that’s him in “Valkyrie”), made his directing debut in 2010 with the rom-com “What a Man.” He stars in the new film alongside Nathalie Emmanuel, Guz Khan, Ruby O. Fee, Stuart Martin, Jonathan Cohen, Noemie Nakai, and Peter Simonischek. While the film does not yet have a set release date on Netflix, it was prepped and shot during the pandemic and is currently in post-production.
©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection
The Big Questions “Lost Vegas” Will Answer
While both “Army of Thieves” and “Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas” are prequels to “Army of the Dead,” Snyder was clear: it’s the anime series that “is the backstory. You could come to it as an anime fan and not having seen ‘Army of the Dead,’ and then you want more.”
“Army of the Dead” opens with some tantalizing table-setting: a large military convoy speeds through the desert with a strange, obviously dangerous payload. When a pair of newlyweds hit the convoy, the entire thing falls to pieces, and soon enough, the payload (it’s Zeus!) breaks loose, kills pretty much everyone, and heads off to Las Vegas, where he will kick off his very own pandemic and set up a zombified kingdom of his own. “Lost Vegas” will pick up during those early days, but Snyder says it will also provide lots of info about what led to this disaster.
“We hint in the movie that we’re coming from Area 51, so maybe there’s a sci-fi element to it,” Snyder added. “I’m not going to say for sure, but it’s really fun to be able to do that and also to see our team when they were at the top of their game, doing the search and rescue. It’s just another bit of information.”
Bautista, Hardwick, Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, and Tig Notaro will reprise their respective roles, giving voice to their characters, while the series itself will be led by Joe Manganiello as Rose.
“Our movie takes place after the pandemic, they’ve contained the zombies to Vegas, but we don’t really talk about where it comes from,” she said. “Where did this pathogen come from? How did this all happen? And we see our team and that they had been on these rescue missions. We see some flashbacks, what they were doing, but we don’t really know more, so the anime series is a great way to find out the origin of this.”
“Army of the Dead” is now in theaters and streaming on Netflix.
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