A high profile sequel and highly anticipated remake have been removed from Paramount’s 2017 release slate. Variety reported the news: Paramount pulls World War Z 2 and Friday the 13th from their scheduled release dates earlier today. It comes as a shock to horror fans all over who were looking forward to both films. Why did they do this? So far, Paramount has not issued a press release confirming any reason, leaving speculation as the order of the day. But it isn’t that surprising if Paramount is deciding to change their strategy.
World War Z 2 Is a Troubled Production
World War Z was a surprise box office hit back in 2013. While the budget was a hefty $190 million, it ended up grossing $540 million worldwide, becoming the highest grossing film of star Brad Pitt’s career. But the production itself was highly troubled. Production delays, escalating budget, on and offset discrepancies, a complete second half rewrite, reshoots, as well as a fallout between director and actor, Paramount was preparing to take a loss on the film.
The sequel, as yet untitled, has also had a troubled production. Just to give you an idea, the film was set to be released on June 9, 2017 but as of yet there is no director attached to the project and no completed script, which would leave just four months to prep, shoot, edit, score, and complete all post-production in order to meet this deadline.
The film would also be going up against Tom Cruise’s new film, The Mummy, Universal’s heavily marketed first installment in their rebooted “Universal Monsters” cinematic universe. Thus, it is quite likely Paramount realized that to pursue the World War Z sequel would be a losing battle.
Paramount Can’t Afford Another Blockbuster Flop
The studio needs a hit. Aside from Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, 2015 and 2016 have met Paramount with underperformers like Terminator: Genisys and Star Trek: Beyond to outright flops such as Ben-Hur and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
Thus, if World War Z 2 were to be rushed into production to meet the release date, it’s very likely the studio would overspend to compensate for lost time, and if bad word of mouth were to circulate, it could make for a heavy financial loss. Thus, by removing the film from this year’s release slate, Paramount is protecting their investments.
Rings’ Poor Performance Suggests That Friday the 13th Isn’t a Guaranteed Thing
Despite its cult following, it is very likely that Paramount doesn’t see much success in rebooting the Jason Voorhees franchise a second time. This new version, which was supposed to mimic the tone of the original 1980 film, has also been bounced around multiple release dates with directors coming and going.
Another film that had a similar production history was Rings. Coming out 12 years after its predecessor and being met with scathing reviews and a middling opening weekend, Rings has crushed any hopes of Paramount being able to continue that franchise. Since Paranormal Activity ended, Paramount hasn’t had a lucrative horror series like Warner Bros. does with The Conjuring or Lionsgate has with Saw, or Sony has with Insidious. While it is unfair that Friday the 13th should suffer for Rings’ inability to draw an audience, it seems that Paramount doesn’t have any faith in the production at this state.
Paramount Decides to Go the Oscar Route
In place of Friday the 13th, Paramount has placed Darren Aronofsky’s drama Mother in the October 13th slot. This date makes Mother a potential awards contender, especially when considering a cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Domnhall Gleeson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Javier Bardem, and Ed Harris. Paramount seems to be banking on this to be their fourth quarter money maker as well as their prestige picture.
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