You have to admire Alex Garland’s candor.
The novelist-turned-screenwriter-turned-director was only marginally involved in 2007’s 28 Weeks Later, the sequel to the Garland-scribed, Danny Boyle-directed 2002 instant zombie classic 28 Days Later. “In a sort of ghostwriting-type capacity,” he says.
But there’s been speculation for years that Garland and Boyle, who handed off directorial duties to Juan Carlos Fresnadillo for Weeks, could re-team for a threequel.
“It’s possible. It’s one of those things — everybody needs to want to do it, and every now and then, partly because I think about paying off the mortgage or something like that, I think, ‘That would be a good idea,’” Garland admits to us during a recent interview promoting his upcoming folk horror film Men.
“But me, personally, I never quite have enough motivation to follow it through.”
Alex Garland on doing another 28 Days Later sequel:
"Every now and then, partly because I think about paying off the mortgage... I think, Oh that would be a good idea." (But he does have a really cool idea.) pic.twitter.com/FjBcdguVPI
— Kevin Polowy (@djkevlar) May 5, 2022
It’s no wonder Garland sees dollar signs. Both 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later were highly profitable endeavors for its producers and distributor Fox Searchlight, now the Disney-owned Searchlight Pictures. The sleeper hit Days grossed $82 million, over 10 times its budget, while Weeks fared decently with $64 million against a budget of only $15 million.
Garland could hardly be accused of selling out, though, either. Days remains one of the best-reviewed horror movies of the century, and its terrifying sprinting zombies kicked off a revival of the genre that would soon spawn Dawn of the Dead (2004), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Zombieland (2009) and The Walking Dead (2010). Weeks was generally well-received, too, drawing a 72 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“A long time has passed, and 28 Days Later, when it arrived, was kind of fresh,” Garland says. “And I don’t think it’s fresh anymore… 28 Days Later joined the zombie conversation, that genre. And part of me thinks, it did its thing, which was great. It was nice to be part of that, really.”
Garland, who first rose to fame for his 1996 novel The Beach (Boyle directed the 2000 film version starring Leonardo DiCaprio) and also penned the scripts for Sunshine (2007) and Dredd (2012) before writing and directing the acclaimed sci-fi films Ex Machina (2014) and Annihilation (2018), isn’t closing the door on a 28 follow-up, though.
“I have got a really cool idea for it,” he says. “But it’s a much bigger movie. And one of the things about 28 Days Later is that it was kind of small and punk. And this idea is less small and punk.
“But me and Danny speak about it. Every couple years it’ll come up. We’ll go, ‘Do you want to do that?’ And for some reason it never happens.”
The title, at least, should come pretty easily. 28 Months Later? 28 Years Later?
“28 Years Later is almost there,” Garland says. “I think I wrote that in like 1998. I could just wait four or five years and then really get the right title, you know?”
Men opens in theaters May 20.
Watch the trailer: