Wednesday was a big day for sequels. (Then again, what day isn’t?)
M. Night Shyamalan announced he will make a film that connects “Split” and “Unbreakable,” the fourth “Chronicles of Narnia” installment is moving forward with “Jumanji” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” director Joe Johnston, and “World War Z” will receive the follow-up that Paramount Pictures had recently shelved.
The Shyamalan news comes as no surprise, given the “Split” twist ending that reintroduces David Dunn, Bruce Willis’ character from “Unbreakable.” David appears as a diner patron who says the terrorist bearing similarities to James McAvoy’s murderous psychopath is Mr. Glass, whom Samuel L. Jackson played in the 2000 thriller.
Willis hinted that Shyamalan had a trilogy in mind back when “Unbreakable” first opened. The director denied it at the time, but the interviews he gave when “Split” came out in January made it clear he had a continuation in mind.
Shyamalan announced the news in a series of tweets on Wednesday, saying Willis and Jackson will reprise their “Unbreakable” roles and McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy will resurrect their “Split” parts. “It was always my dream to have both films collide in this third film,” he wrote.
The news about “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “World War Z” is more of a surprise.
With “Narnia,” rights to C.S. Lewis’ novels held by the franchise’s initial production company expired in 2010, leaving the author’s estate to cut a deal with a new studio. With “World War Z,” Paramount pulled the planned sequel from its release schedule in February.
The next “Chronicles of Narnia” installment is “The Silver Chair,” in which Aslan sends two children to find King Caspian’s kidnapped son. Joe Johnston, who has experience with franchise sequels via “Jurassic Park III,” has agreed to direct the movie, according to Variety. While the other three “Narnia” installments have revolved around the Pevensie children, this one focuses on their cousin, Eustace Scrubb. There’s no word on casting yet.
The “World War Z” sequel has faced a tougher road than “Silver Chair” and “Glass.” The 2013 original, a Brad Pitt zombie horror-fest based on Max Brooks’ novel of the same name, grossed an impressive $540 million worldwide, but the project was riddled with production woes. The budget ballooned to nearly $200 million, the production faced setbacks and release delays, and Pitt reportedly clashed with director Marc Forster.
When J.A. Bayona was attached to direct, the next “World War Z” flick was slated for June 2017. Then he dropped out to make next year’s “Jurassic World” follow-up instead, and Paramount went months without a replacement. In February, still lacking a new director, Paramount delayed the movie until 2018 or 2019. Now, A-list auteur David Fincher has signed on, according to Variety. It’ll be Fincher’s first movie since “Gone Girl” in 2014.
Variety reported last summer that Pitt was wooing other directors for the sequel. He specifically targeted Fincher, with whom he worked on “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Fight Club” and “Se7en.” Apparently they are currently inking a deal, with production likely to begin in early 2018.
HuffPost reached out to Paramount reps to confirm Fincher’s involvement but did not immediately hear back. “World War Z 2” will mark the Oscar nominee’s first sequel since 1992’s “Alien 3,” which Fincher has essentially disowned. ”No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me,” he told The Guardian in 2009.