Between The Tree of Life and Moneyball, Pitt had a good year in 2011, and a new Los Angeles Times profile talks up the possibility of Moneyball being a major awards season contender. In the middle of the article, though, is a mention that both Paramount and the film's director see definite franchise potential with the zombie property. Geoff Boucher explains, "Forster and Paramount Pictures each view 'World War Z' as a trilogy that would have the grounded, gun-metal realism of, say, Damon's Jason Bourne series tethered to the unsettling end-times vibe of AMC's 'The Walking Dead.'"
Despite being a bona fide international movie star, Pitt has never been at the center of a signature franchise. He played supporting character Rusty Ryan in Ocean's Eleven and its two sequels, but he has yet to be closely associated with a franchise the way Matt Damon or Tom Cruise have with The Bourne Identity and Mission: Impossible, respectively.
In World War Z, Pitt plays United Nations researcher Gerry Lane, who starts tearing ass around the globe in order to find the origin of the zombie pandemic. That's a fairly major change from Brooks's book, which is an oral history of individual stories from the years of zombie hysteria compiled by a UN historian years after the fact. It's unknown whether material for potential sequels would come from the book or be original material. Or perhaps they could be based on as-yet unannounced follow-up material from Brooks.
The film very nearly died at Paramount before the studio found a co-financing partner in David Ellison's Skydance Productions, at which point the project lurched back to life and went into production right quick.
Marc Forster, whose credits include Quantum of Solace, Finding Neverland, The Kite Runner, and Stay, directs from a screenplay by J. Michael Straczynski and Matthew Michael Carnahan, with the great Robert Richardson serving as director of photography. Pitt leads an ensemble cast that also includes Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, and David Morse.
World War Z is scheduled to show up in theaters on December 21st.