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Z, based on the novel by Max Brooks, was one the summer’s surprise hits, grossing $202 million domestically and $540 million worldwide for the studio and Skydance. What was even more impressive was the movie’s solid reviews in the face of well-documented problems with the third act that necessitated complicated and costly rewrites and reshoots.
Z starred Brad Pitt as a United Nations employee who travels the world as he tries to stop a zombie plague, all the while trying to communicate with his family.
The movie, helmed by Marc Forster, ended with a cure found and him reunited with his family. The original ending, however, was more sequel-ready, putting his wife in the hands of a cold-hearted army officer as Pitt storms the shores of America, cutting through a zombie horde as his reunification journey really begins.
Bayona was on the very short shortlist of directors a few weeks ago. He met with Pitt, who produced Z via his Plan B banner and is also producing the sequel, before getting the gig. No writers are attached at this stage, but Bayona will oversee the writing process.
The Spanish director has shown an ability to juggle scares, drama and big sequences — all of which Z did successfully. Bayona directed the well-regarded Guillermo del Toro-produced ghost story The Orphanage. And Impossible netted star Naomi Watts an Academy Award nomination in a movie that was both tender and jaw-dropping in portraying the real-life tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia in 2004. The movie was also a hit, grossing $180 million worldwide.
Bayona is repped by CAA.