Director Danny Boyle didn’t have an easy transition into the new century. The British filmmaker delivered a pair of knockout indies in the 90s in “Shallow Grave” and “Trainspotting.” He was a director to watch. While his 1997 misfire “A Life Less Ordinary” wasn’t able to knock Boyle completely off of the radar, his widely publicized 2000 box office misfire “The Beach” certainly did. Boyle’s adaptation of the popular Alex Garland novel teamed him with Leonardo DiCaprio the megastar who was fresh off of the Titanic. “The Beach” also marked Boyle’s first collaboration with a major film studio, 20th Century Fox. Fortunately for Boyle, international audiences came to his rescue, and the studio recouped its investment. Yet the domestic returns were quite underwhelming, as was the critical reception, which bordered on universal pans. Boyle’s reputation had quickly become beached.
Yet in 2002, Boyle directed an under-the-radar zombie thriller “28 Days Later.” The modestly budgeted film detailed the aftermath of a virus outbreak in contemporary London, and the few survivors that now have to fend off a hoard of infected zombies. While the publicity behind the film was relatively mum, the critics rallied strongly behind Boyle’s film, heralding it as a gritty political allegory, a sharply made thriller and a glorious resurrection of the long abandoned zombie genre. Audiences soon followed, and the film made more than ten times its budget. Not only was the zombie genre resurrected, so was Boyle’s career. In the years since, he has directed such modern gems such as “Sunshine” and “127 Hours,” both of which inspired an enthusiastic critical response. Oh, and there was that time he won the Oscar for the cultural phenomenon “ Slumdog Millionaire.” And the time he produced the opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Now, it looks like Boyle is returning to the film that jump-started his fledgling career. As of August 2012, the filmmaker has expressed his interest in directing a sequel to the 2002 classic.
Of course, Boyle’s film, widely speculated to be titled 28 Months Later, will actually be the second sequel to “28 Days Later.” In 2007, the critically acclaimed “28 Weeks Later” found its way into theaters. Boyle was crucial in the development of the project, including delivering script notes and hiring essential cast and crew members. Yet Boyle remained only a producer on the film, opting instead to aim his directorial talents to his ambitious 2007 film “Sunshine.” Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, a Spanish director who had directed only two relatively low-key pictures beforehand, took the helm for the eagerly awaited follow up. Fresnadillo also helped to pen the screenplay. While many critics derided the film for lacking the character development and personal edge of its predecessor, “28 Weeks Later” still provoked solid reviews and stellar box office receipts, leading to its own placement in the canon of great zombie films.
Speculation for a third film has been rampant since the DVD release of “28 Weeks Later.” Boyle has alluded to the possibility in several interviews and press junkets, and expressed that he would like to direct such a film. However, as recently as October 2010, Alex Garland, a writer/producer on both films, stated that the rights for the film were in limbo between two groups of people that were allegedly not interested in talking to each other. If the hostility was not alleviated, the chances of a sequel were next to nil. However, it looks as though those tensions were settled, as several news sources have floated the notion that a third film is imminent.
The plot for said third film is unknown. There will of course be rampant speculation prior to the film’s premiere. In Boyle’s capable hands, fans should have no reason to believe they will be at all disappointed.
Zack Mandell is a movie enthusiast and owner of www.movieroomreviews.com and writer of movie reviews about movies such as 28 Weeks Later. He writes extensively about the movie industry for sites such as Gossip Center, Yahoo, NowPublic, and Helium.