World War Z 2: Why the Director Left

Director J.A. Bayona explains why he ended up not making World War Z 2.

As troubled a production as 2013’s World War Z was, the Brad Pitt-starring epic about a global zombie pandemic managed to score with audiences and make $540 million worldwide, thus setting the wheels in motion for a sequel. But the follow-up movie, first announced five years ago (shortly after the first movie opened), has yet to rise from the graveyard of development hell.

Director Juan Antonio (J.A.) Bayona joined the project in late 2013 after impressing execs with his first two films (The Orphange and The Impossible), but officially left it two years later. With Bayona currently doing press for his new movie, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Den of Geek had the chance to ask the Spanish filmmaker about what happened with his stint on the second World War Z installment.

“We were working on that project for around a year, and we had a great idea,” he recalls. “We were very excited. We designed great set pieces, and we were very excited with the direction we were taking with the film, but somehow, we never found a way to connect it all together.”

Bayona adds, “There was a moment where we were about to start production, and I wasn’t ready. I told them and I said, ‘Listen, I’m not the right guy for this. There’s probably another guy who’s able to take care of this in a way that the movie will not get affected,’ so I decided to step out of the project.”

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When asked what direction he wanted to take the movie in, Bayona deflects: “I would prefer not to tell you, because they’re working on it now. I had a conversation with them recently, and they’re very excited, so I prefer them to talk about it.”

Fair enough. But who exactly are the “them” that Bayona is talking about? There was a flurry of excitement (and some puzzlement) when David Fincher joined the picture in early 2017, reportedly at the request of Brad Pitt. But since then, the start of production has been delayed multiple times, with the film having no official start or release date at present.

With Fincher now working on the second season of his Mindhunter series for Netflix, the script still going through rewrites, and Pitt committed to starring in Quentin Tarantino’s next project, World War Z, Part 2 may never get off the ground at this point. Hey, J.A., you busy right now?