The director of World War Z, Marc Forster, will not be the director of the film’s sequel, as Paramount has hired The Orphanage director Juan Antonio Bayona to helm the project.
World War Z, a zombie apocalypse survival film loosely (very loosely) based on Max Brooks’ critically acclaimed book of the same name, took the box office by complete surprise when it released in June 2013 to an opening weekend north of $66 million, on its way to a worldwide total right at $540 million. Prior to that shocking turn-of-events, the film had been seen as a certain box office disaster, as its production had been plagued with several issues, including the need to reshoot the entire third act after the first two acts had already been completed.
Everyone had assumed the film would fail miserably, but I had high hopes that were proven worthwhile by the film’s success. I had those hopes for only one reason: Marc Forster. As I mentioned in my review of World War Z earlier this year, Forster happens to be my favorite director. With that said, I was prepared to have my hopes dashed by the film’s seemingly inevitable failure and was never more pleased to have been wrong as I watched the film’s box office total climb, week after week. On top of that, I do think the film is great.
With my fondness for Forster established, you’d imagine this news that he will not be directing World War Z‘s sequel would be unwelcome to my ears, but I’m actually quite glad, and the reasons are two-fold. For one, much of my enjoyment of Forster’s work revolves around his flexibility and his ability to make a wide variety of films. From the dark Louisiana drama on love and loss Monster’s Ball, to the melancholy tale on the cost and benefit of creativity and imagination Finding Neverland, to the underrated social commentary of the twenty-second James Bond film Quantum of Solace; Forster’s versatility is an amazing asset that could easily handle a sequel–and probably will, at some point–but is most enjoyable when diving into something completely different.
The second reason this announcement pleases me is because Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Orphanage is a fantastic and horrifying film. One of the few things I’d say was missing from World War Z was horror; the fear of a rising zombie apocalypse. The film had plenty of suspense (such as airplane and traffic set pieces which utilized Forster’s eye for realism), but the horror was decidedly lacking. With Bayona directing, it would seem Paramount definitely wants to ramp up the scares, and he’ll be a great choice to do it. Beyond The Orphanage, however, Bayona’s 2012 film The Impossible is not to be overlooked in its outstanding ability to capture the human and personal response to a tsunami (the 2004 Indian ocean tsunami, to be exact). With that film, Bayona proved his own versatility in being able to show true horror found in the survival of a natural disaster. It’s most likely his superb job directing that film which landed him at the helm of the World War Z sequel, and with absolutely good reason.
The World War Z sequel has no known plot, yet; nor does it have any release date–not even one penciled in. With that in mind, we’ll just have to wait and see where the story of Brad Pitt’s ex-UN employee–with Indiana Jones-esque durability–Gerry Lane goes from here.