Zombie Sequel ’28 Years Later’ Lands at Sony (Exclusive)

28 Years Later, the hot package from director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland, has landed at Sony.

The Culver City-based studio has come out on top after a protracted bidding war to win the rights to the sequel package to the 2002 horror classic 28 Days Later.

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Director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland have reunited to write and direct the sequel, which also comes with a Part 2, to be written by Garland. Boyle would only direct the first project, with the sequel’s director to be determined at a later stage. Cillian Murphy, whose career was launched thanks to the original movie, is also returning as an executive producer. The Oppenheimer star could also possibly act in the project, although details are being quarantined.

WME, which reps Boyle and Garland, took the package out to the Hollywood studios and streamers almost three weeks ago, generating immediate interest and intense wooing. In the end, the bidding came down to Warner Bros. and Sony. The idea of having the original creators return to lead a sequel or two had some comparing it to George Miller returning to Mad Max with 2015’s Fury Road.

The deal details are unavailable. Each movie would have a budget in the $60 million range, but it’s unclear how goalposts or compensation may have changed during the high-stakes negotiations. A theatrical release was of great import to the filmmakers.

The pair will also produce, as would original producer Andrew Macdonald and Peter Rice, the former head of Fox Searchlight Pictures, the division of onetime studio Twentieth Century Fox that originally backed the British-made movie and its sequel. Bernie Bellew is also producing.

Sony had a unique weapon in the auction: a 30-year-plus relationship between studio head Tom Rothman and Boyle. Rothman founded Fox Searchlight in the 1990s and ran Fox’s film division in the early 2000s, working with Boyle on eight movies, ranging from A Life Less Ordinary and The Beach (which was Boyle’s first collaboration with Garland) to the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours.

More than 20 years ago, Boyle and Garland collaborated on 28 Days Later, the film that reinvigorated the zombie genre, paving the way for titles such as The Walking Dead, World War Z, Zombieland and The Last of Us, to name a few. Murphy starred as a man who wakes up from a coma, alone in a hospital, only to discover the outside world had been overtaken by the undead 28 days earlier. The 2002 film grossed $82.7 million globally and spawned a sequel, 2007’s 28 Weeks Later, though Boyle and Garland were only nominally involved as executive producers.

The duo have long talked in the press about doing a sequel. At one point, the idea was a film called 28 Months Later, but enough time has passed that 28 Years Later became the new idea.

In the intervening years, Boyle and Garland’s stock has only risen in Hollywood. Boyle went on to direct best picture winner Slumdog Millionaire, while Garland became a director of features such as Ex Machina, considered a modern sci-fi classic, and the upcoming A24 film Civil War.

Cillian Murphy at the 81st Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California.
Cillian Murphy at the 81st Golden Globe Awards held Jan. 7, 2024, at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.

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