Now that the sequel to 2013’s World War Z is off this year’s schedule – and maybe next year’s too – fingers are pointing to why fans might not see a film before they forget the franchise exists.
And all those fingers, according to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Tatiana Siegel, are squarely in the direction of Paramount Pictures head Brad Grey.
It’s Grey who pulled the plug on the project, despite being just a signature away from bringing in Oscar-nominated director David Fincher, and even getting a sequel below the budget Paramount was willing to fork over for World War Z 2.
And now, the longer Paramount waits to bring the film back on track, the more likely it could not only lose Fincher, but even fans as well who might not be interested in waiting six years between movies.
Grey’s inaction has raised eyebrows in town, considering Fincher’s pedigree as a director who could elevate the property well beyond a genre film. The studio even has a financial partner to mitigate the risk, since Skydance Productions is co-producing and co-financing the film.
Fincher has been rumored to helm the project since J.A. Bayona left the project last year. He has twice been considered for an Oscar, the first in 2009 for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and then again two years later for The Social Network.
Benjamin Button earned Brad Pitt an Oscar nomination, and would give the actor a chance to work with Fincher again since he’s both a star and a producer in the World War Z franchise. Fincher and Pitt first hooked up in 1999’s Fight Club.
The sequel script had been crafted by Dennis Kelly, a British writer best known for his television works in his home country, including Utopia.
World War Z 2 was originally planned for a June 9 release, but considering the film had yet to hire a director and no filming had been done, Paramount quickly realized there was no way it would make that premiere date. Yet now Paramount seems to be in no hurry to get the project under way.
The original World War Z debuted at No. 2 in June 2013 behind Monsters University, but still managed an impressive $66.4 million opening. It would go on to gross $531.5 million globally, ranking it just outside the top 10 that year in both international and worldwide box office.
Fincher is busy working on a new series for Netflix called Mindhunter that stars Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany and Anna Torv.
Pitt has been focused on producing in recent years, but appeared in last year’s Allied, and is set to play a general in the upcoming Netflix film War Machine, which also stars Anthony Michael Hall, Topher Grace, Will Poulter and Tilda Swinton.
Brad Grey has led Paramount since 2005. And while he might boast eight of the studio’s top-10 grossing films of all time (not accounting for inflation), recent years have been tough for the executive.
Paramount only once has had the top-grossing film of the year during Grey’s tenure – Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2009 – and hasn’t been the highest-grossing studio since earning just under $2 billion, and a 19 percent market share, in 2011.
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