Why Can’t Paramount Find a Live Director for Brad Pitt’s Zombie Movie ‘World War Z 2’?

Let’s start with a script that’s been through multiple re-writes for three-plus years

Brad Pitt’s “World War Z” sequel has bigger problems than flesh-eating monsters — an empty director’s chair that the movie star and Paramount Pictures cannot seem to fill thanks to a script that has gone through three-plus years of rewrites, TheWrap has learned.

The project, greenlit in 2013 and dated toward the end of 2015 for release this summer, has stalled because the latest iterations of the screenplay have been deemed unsatisfactory to Pitt and potential director David Fincher, an individual close to the project told TheWrap.

What the studio does have is a still-attached Pitt, his company Plan B as producer and a new screenplay due in two weeks. If Fincher and Pitt approve of the new story, added the insider, the “Gone Girl” director could come back into the fold.

“Until they can finish the sentence, ‘A film by….’ this movie is simply not ready,” the individual said of the film, a co-production with David Ellison’s Skydance Media.

Paramount Pictures declined to comment on the matter.

In January 2016, the project lost its original director, J.A. Bayona, to the “Jurassic World” sequel. Subsequently, Pitt made a personal appeal to his A-list pals like David Fincher and Adam McKay to take the job — to no avail.

Similar issues plagued the original 2013 film, which saw rewrites from script doctors Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard, TheWrap previously reported).

On Monday, the studio pulled the unproduced film from its June 9, 2017, opening date, instantly triggering Hollywood’s short-term memory about the very troubled first film, directed by Marc Forster.

That saw a reported clash between director and star, a massively inflated budget that numerous outlets report at $200 million, and the reshooting of the entire third act. What’s more, the parties involved were atypically chatty about the entire debacle, considering it was an adaptation of a piece of original IP that rested entirely on the marketability of Pitt.

The headaches turned out to be worth it, as “World War Z” grossed $540 million worldwide, per Box Office Mojo, immediately opening the door to a sequel.

“Conversations are happening with several filmmakers,” the insider said of hiring a director. “Work on the movie will continue.”

Admittedly, it’s not an opportune time for Paramount to lose a potential tentpole from the 2017 schedule. Studio owner Viacom’s CEO Bob Bakish has promised the media he’ll deliver an audit of all company holdings on an earnings call this Thursday, that will presumably include sizing up Paramount’s future.

There’s no indication that studio chief Brad Grey does not have the full confidence of the Redstone family, firmly back in control of Viacom following a long saga with former CEO Philippe Dauman last year.

A second source close to Pitt’s production unit Plan B said pulling “World War Z 2” from the schedule has been overdramatized, thanks to the ongoing saga of Pitt’s public divorce with Angelina Jolie.

“This is nothing like the first time,” the individual said, “people are trying to say Brad needs the win, but movies need directors.”