Ever since 28 Weeks Later debuted in 2007, horror fans have wondered if we’ll ever get a third movie in the 28 Days Later franchise. For years, the sequel rights were apparently tied up in red tape, but more recently, the original creators and cast have hinted that a sequel is finally in the works. And in a new interview with Inverse, 28 Days Later director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland provide some extremely exciting updates.
“A few years ago an idea materialized in my head for what would be really 28 Years Later,” Garland says, suggesting the next movie will skip the obvious “28 Months Later” naming convention and jump into the future. “Danny always liked the idea.”
In the two decades since 28 Days Later, Garland has also become a respected director in his own right. So who will direct this sequel? Danny Boyle has some ideas.
“So we’re talking about it quite seriously, quite diligently,” Boyle says. “If he doesn’t want to direct it himself I’ll be well up for it if we can execute a similarly good idea.”
But why has it taken so long to make this sequel? To answer that question, we have to go back to the original sequel, 28 Weeks Later.
The problem with 28 Weeks Later
Fans only had to wait four years after seeing 28 Days Later to get a sequel to the instantly iconic horror movie. 28 Weeks Later arrived in 2007, continuing the story roughly six months later as the U.S. military sweeps into a zombie-virus-ravaged England and attempts to reestablish civilization in London — spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well.
Predictably, 28 Weeks Later features a full-on zombie outbreak, along with the final reveal that some of those “infected” have made their way to mainland Europe through the tunnel connecting London and Paris. Somewhat less predictably, 28 Weeks Later was sort of a flop.
At the time it was made, Boyle and Garland were busy working on their psychological space thriller, Sunshine. So they handed the movie over to a new team. Boyle would return to help direct the sequel’s thrilling opening scene, while Garland reportedly pitched in with extensive script rewrites. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to save a movie that seemingly missed the point of the original.
28 Weeks Later feels more like a standard Hollywood action flick than the low-budget experiment that came before it. (This is a movie where the good guys use a helicopter to chop off zombie heads.) And while there are some interesting parallels between this fictional occupation of London and America’s real-world occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan in the mid-2000s, that’s not enough to save what should be a terrifyingly good time but feels more like a mid-tier summer blockbuster.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Alex Garland agrees and tells Inverse that 28 Weeks Later almost ruined the entire franchise for him.
“I resisted [making a sequel] for a long time because there were things about 28 Weeks that bugged me,” Garland says. “I just thought, ‘F*ck that. I’d rather try to write a different story in a different world.’”
But clearly, something changed. Maybe enough time has passed. Or maybe the decision to skip “28 Months Later” and jump straight to “28 Years” offers the opportunity to ignore the bad parts of 28 Weeks. Either way, we’re definitely not complaining — assuming all this talk actually leads to something, of course.