Why Zombieland: Double Tap Took 10 Years To Make

Zombieland: Double Tap is in theaters on October 18.


When Zombieland hit theaters in 2009, it was an instant hit, taking in over $100 million at the box office. At the time, it seemed, a sequel was a guarantee. Then the years started passing, and it looked like a potential follow-up wasn't going to happen. Better late than never, though, Zombieland: Double Tap is ready to hit theaters a decade after the first film. So what took so long?

For Ruben Fleischer, who directed both films, it's a matter of the right idea and the right time. As it turns out, there was a sequel in the works after Zombieland was a hit. "Immediately after the success of the first film studio naturally wanted to do a sequel and we developed a script with Paul [Wernick] and Rhett [Reese], the original writers," the director admitted to GameSpot and a small group of other outlets during a visit to Double Tap's edit bay. "But it just kind of didn't hit all the... it wasn't quite what I think everybody was excited to go make. And so we kind of put it on the shelf."

After that, everyone became pretty busy and a lot harder to pin down for a followup. "I went made a couple other movies, [Wernick and Reese] went and [wrote] Deadpool, Emma [Stone] went and won an Academy Award and Jesse [Eisenberg] got nominated for one, I think. Woody [Harrelson] got nominated for two and so everybody kind of went off and did their own thing," he said. "But it was sometime after Gangster Squad that I was like, 'Huh, you know what, in hindsight that Zombieland move is pretty awesome. And that cast was pretty amazing, those writers are pretty good. Maybe we should figure out how to how to get that sequel going again.'"

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That was in 2013. While Fleischer said Sony was ready to dive into a sequel, Wernick and Reese were knee-deep in Deadpool. "So they came on as executive producers and we worked with the writer named Dave Callaham to come up with the story for a sequel," he explained. "And we did a couple of drafts of that, until the point where Paul and Rhett came in and did their pass on it. And it was that draft that the cast all agreed to make."

The script was vital, as the cast was determined to make sure the sequel would live up to the first film--especially Harrelson. "Woody has said that, of all the movies he's made, when fans come up to him, the movie that they are always mentioned is Zombieland," the director said. "And so he felt like a real responsibility that we don't tarnish the original, and making a sequel. So he especially was like very exacting when it came to the script."

Once the script was approved, Fleischer was already working on 2018's Venom. Thankfully, the waiting game wouldn't last much longer. "As soon as Venom was done, I had a week off and then immediately started prep on [Zombieland: Double Tap], and was in Atlanta again, where we shot the original and prepped it in the fall, and then started shooting in January," he recalled. "We're just finishing [post-production], and it comes out in October. So it was a pretty quick turnaround from the actual moment of like getting a script and actors lined up. But it was a long ten years between the original to the release of this one."

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It's arguably more impressive that Fleischer was able to gather this cast a decade later than had he done it right after the first film. Does the post-apocalyptic comedy sequel stand up as tall as the first movie, though?

You'll find out when Zombieland: Double Tap hits theaters on October 18.

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