One would assume or hope that the creators of "Zombieland" -- Sony's surprise 2009 hit written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and directed by Ruben Fleischer -- would know better than go to the well more than once. While Bill Murray's celebrity cameo in "Zombieland" was amusing (if overrated), one would presume the savvy filmmakers and writers would understand that contemporary audiences will be expecting another cameo, and trying to top the original surprise would be pointless (somehow the "Scream" filmmakers still think it's clever or any kind of surprise to include a celebrity death at the top of each film -- cue eyeroll).
While it remains to be seen whether the writers/director recognize another cameo move would be far too obvious, some encouraging news has arrived. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, rumors surfaced that the to-be-shot-in-3D "Zombieland 2" production was seeking celebrity cameos and those rumblings quickly found the likes of Harrison Ford and Anthony Hopkins being mentioned as the big reveals for the forthcoming sequel. Thankfully, co-writer Rhett Reese hit Twitter to debunk the rumors.
"The Zombieland 2 rumors reported today are false," he wrote. Though later the writer seemed to backtrack somewhat and if his comments are taken literally one could read them as Reese acknowledging that celebrity cameos -- or something similar -- are in the works and the game of Chinese whispering made them take on a life of their own. "The Zombieland 2 rumors feel like they were the product of a game of 'Telephone.' Distorted," he wrote a few hours later.
While a first draft of "Zombieland 2" is apparently complete, another reason why talk of celebrity cameos might be premature is the fact that Fleischer has not even committed to the picture as his next film (he's still exploring his options) and none of the principal cast members -- Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin -- have deals in place yet. Fleischer is currently in post-production on his follow-up feature, "30 Minutes Or Less" which stars Danny McBride and Nick Swardson as two fledgling criminals who kidnap a pizza delivery driver (Eisenberg again) and force him to rob a bank within 30 minutes. Aziz Ansari plays Eisenberg's best friend and the film is already scheduled for an August 12, 2011 release.
Will Fleischer cave to the pressures of making a 3D sequel to a successful Hollywood picture? We'll have to wait and see, but the director is not without his options and definitely has a few irons in the fire. One is a script penned by Mike White ("School Of Rock," "Nacho Libre") called "Babe In The Woods," which could go on the backburner now that White has agreed to direct "Pride And Prejudice And Zombies" (though arguably the script is done and all Fleischer needs to do is decide if he wants to helm it or not). The other project he has gestating is an untitled buddy cop movie written by Mike Arnold and Chris Poole, who both wrote "The Grackle," a one time David O. Russell project. Fleischer is also producing "Bourne 4" writer Josh Zetumer's next project.