28 Days Later is universally regarded as one of the most influential genre flicks ever. The 2003 film launched director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland into new levels of success, and sired a sequel, 28 Weeks Later, a few years after release.
28 Weeks turned up the heat on the zombie epidemic first introduced by its predecessor, but bigger isn’t always better. 28 Days Later remains the superior entry for most fans, and for Boyle and Garland. Both were somewhat involved in production on 28 Weeks (Boyle directed its opening sequence, while Garland reportedly assisted with script rewrites), but their efforts couldn’t save the film from itself. The reception to the sequel even seemed to stall progress on another follow-up.
“I resisted [making a sequel] for a long time because there were things about 28 Weeks that bugged me,” Garland told Inverse in 2023. “I just thought, ‘F*** that. I’d rather try to write a different story in a different world.’”
Those reservations aside, the filmmaker revealed he’d been toying with a new idea, one that would take place almost 30 years after the first film. That idea finally seems to be bearing fruit: 21 years after their iconic collaboration, Boyle and Garland are teaming up to launch a new trilogy set in the 28 Days universe. According to Variety, this revival will kick off with 28 Years Later, and if all goes well, it will continue with two other films.
Boyle is attached to direct and produce along with Garland, original producer Andrew Macdonald, and Peter Rice, the former head of Fox Searchlight. Notably, Searchlight produced both 28 Days and its sequel. With its parent company, 20th Century Fox, now under the Disney banner, Boyle and Garland are shopping the sequel package to other studios and streamers.
Executives are reportedly hoping for a sequel on par with Mad Max: Fury Road, the 2015 film that reintroduced George Miller’s apocalyptic world to a new generation. It was a critical and commercial hit that led to its own spin-offs.
The premise of 28 Years has yet to be revealed, but Garland’s recent comments hint at a full-on reset. The writer — who’s set to handle the scripts for all three sequels — is keen on exploring a “different world.” That could mean the 28 Years trilogy will focus on a new crop of characters, just as 28 Weeks pivoted from the first film’s heroes.
Still, it would be interesting to see Boyle and Garland reunite with their original cast. 28 Days featured then-unknowns like Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris; in the 21 years since the film premiered, both have become respected industry names.
The door is certainly open for either actor to return. Two endings were shot for 28 Days, and while one is pretty bleak, the other bears a more hopeful bent. Could our heroes have survived nearly 30 years of a zombie apocalypse? It’s not likely, but if Garland and Boyle see fit to work with Murphy again, nothing is off the table.