“This is just happening, and here is what I know.” This sentence is both the beginning of the Deadline article announcing the departure of director Juan Antonio Bayona from the World War Z sequel, and also the beginning of at least seven movies about zombie apocalypses. Unfortunately, the rest of the piece is not remotely as dramatic or exciting as its lede: According to Deadline, Bayona exited the sequel abruptly and unexpectedly because of “timing,” that old, vague chestnut.
Plan B and Paramount were planning to shoot World War Z 2 (they really messed up their sequel-title potential by titling the first film with the last letter in the alphabet) over the summer for a June 2017 release, with Pitt reprising his role as “the man who fights the zombie apocalypse” and a script from Steven Knight and Dennis Kelly. Paramount was counting on Bayona to get behind the director’s chair and scare the hell out of people, just as he’d done with terrifying horror film The Orphanage and tsunami thriller The Impossible, but Bayona bit off more than he could chew and is now stuck with “commitments on the film he just shot” — A Monster Calls, starring Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson and Sigourney Weaver.
The studio told Deadline, “Bayona is no longer able to make World War Z 2 this year, and it is our ambition to do so. He is a wonderful director and we hope to work with him soon.” In other words, Paramount doesn’t want to wait for Bayona to get his sh*t together; it’s more important to them that they churn out World War Z 2 before the actual zombie apocalypse, which will take place in July of 2017.
Deadline amps up the drama again near the end of the piece by wildly speculating that this shakeup might put Bayona in the director’s chair for the sequel to Jurassic World, a movie that has nothing to do with this movie. “This immediately becomes one of the biggest Open Directing Assignments in town, maybe the biggest job this side of the Jurassic World sequel, for which Bayona will probably now find himself a prime candidate since that film has a looser timetable and is still awaiting a script.” The suspense! The intrigue! The passive-aggressive Hollywood politics! Will Bayona direct a different movie with the word “world” in its title? Will the production of World War Z 2: On Beyond Zebra devolve into a hot mess, à la its predecessor? Will somebody come up with a better title than that?