Alas, we’re probably never going to see World War Z 2. Paramount scrapped the long-in-development sequel back in February and there is no indication that the project will be rescued at any time, at least not in the near future. With that, it’s hard not to wonder what could have been. Thanks to screenwriter Mathew Michael Carnahan, we at least have an idea of where things may have gone, in a slightly alternate universe.
For those who may not know, World War Z is based on a best-selling book by Max Brooks. As a movie, it went through a lengthy development process. Mathew Michael Carnahan, who has written movies such as The Kingdom and Deepwater Horizon, was brought on to do a major rewrite at one point. He helped shape the movie into what we ultimately saw in theaters.
I recently had the chance to speak with Mathew Michael Carnahan on behalf of his upcoming directorial debut Mosul. During our conversation, we touched on his work on World War Z. We’ll have the full chat coming soon, but in the meantime, here’s what he had to say when the subject of his work on the blockbuster zombie flick came up.
“There was a script that [J. Michael] Straczynski had written and they wanted me to come in and see if I could do some work on that. That’s my roundabout way to World War Z. It was a six week rewrite that turned into a two-year odyssey.
God took pity on us because it was such a hard shoot. It was such a brutal shoot, but it worked. After that long slog, they didn’t want to see my ugly mug anymore, and I needed to go do something else that was not zombie related. I heard multiple iterations of World War Z 2 and I don’t know what’s happened to it.”
The production of World War Z, directed by Marc Forster, was infamously chaotic. Massive reshoots were needed and many worried that the movie would be a disaster. It wasn’t. Far from it. Hence, a sequel entered development. While Matthew Michael Carnahan made it clear during our chat that he never had any actual involvement in the follow-up, he explained, roughly speaking, where he thought the story should have gone, had they went the trilogy route.
“My idea, initially the excitement started because I thought Straczynski’s script should be the third movie. I read it and it was the book. It was a guy… going to the veterans of the war ten years after the fact and asking them about their experiences. That always struck me as a cool idea, what the book was, but that should be the third movie in a three-movie run. The first movie should be the actual war.
I rewrote the whole script because I thought, if you call something World War Z and don’t show World War Z, you’re gonna run afoul with the vast majority of the audience that had never read the book. My idea for the second movie was the part in the book where they’re taking back the United States. And then the third movie would be the book. Or, the central spine of the book where this man is interviewing people about what happened. Literally that’s all I had, in terms of a second movie.”
David Fincher was attached to direct World War Z 2, with Brad Pitt set to reprise his role from the first movie. It’s totally unclear where they would have taken the story. Though, what’s mapped out here, in terms of a three-movie arc, doesn’t sound half bad. Unfortunately, it’s something that will probably never happen, unless Paramount has a serious change of heart. Be on the lookout for our full chat with Carnahan ahead of the release of Mosul.