Talk to most any expert on pop-zombie culture and he or she will mention 28 Days Later…, Danny Boyle’s 2002 contribution to the horror subgenre that helped renew interest in the idea of society crumbling under the threat of shambling (or this case, infected and sprinting) corpses. The missing link between the Romero-era Dead films and The Walking Dead — compare Cillian Murphy’s awakening into a chaotic world to the beginning of the latter’s pilot episode — it’s a seminal zombie-apocalypse work. And as the director told Rolling Stone during an extensive interview about his upcoming biopic on Apple CEO and founder Steve Jobs (which we’ll be running in full soon), there may very well be a third 28 Days film.
“There is a kind of synopsis idea for a third part,” Boyle says. “Alex [Garland, the original film’s screenwriter] has been working on something that’s real interesting. It’s partly a military thing…that’s all I can say. It’ll be interesting to see if we can get it going; we’re nowhere near as advanced on that as we are on the Trainspotting sequel. But it might happen, yeah. I certainly hope so.”
Neither Boyle nor Garland were directly involved with the film’s 2007 sequel 28 Weeks Later, directed by Spanish filmmaker Juan Carlos Fresnadillo; both are listed, however, as executive producers. The rumors that a third movie might be in the works started circulating last May when Garland was doing press for his directorial debut Ex Machina, and told IndieWire that, during Trainspotting 2 conversations, “an idea for 28 Months [Later] arrived. I had a sort of weird idea that popped into my head. Partly because of a trip I’d taken. I had this thought, and I suggested it to [producer] Andrew [Macdonald] and Danny…it’s pretty simple.” He also mentioned that he wasn’t interested in writing it and that Macdonald would be taking over the reins, so any potential third movie may just be based on his original concept.
As for the follow-up to Boyle’s iconic take on Irvine Welsh’s novel, the filmmaker confirmed that “we’re doing it in May and June. It won’t be called Porno, however” — the name of Welsh’s 2002 literary sequel — “but we do have a good name. We’re trying to call it T2, which is a nightmare legally. But it would be so cool!”
Regarding the attraction of returning to the material after nearly 20 years, Boyle says it was a mixture of rabid fandom and his own curiosity that’s spurred him to jump back in to the filthiest toilet in Scotland (hopefully metaphorically). “If a film is successful, what usually happens is that people remember the actors who are in it over the actual characters,” the filmmaker says. “‘You remember when Tom Hanks danced on the piano in Big? That was great.’ ‘Hey, what was the name of the character he played?’ ‘Oh shit, that’s tough, um…it’s Tom Hanks, and the piano, and Big!’ But there’s not a day goes by when someone does not come up to me and talk about Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie…always those four. So you think, okay, what happened to them? That was the draw: finding out what the last 20 years have been like for these guys. The hedonists who got away with it, like those of us who took all those chances in our twenties and were lucky — what happens when you can no longer take those risks or live that life?
“People think the first film was about drugs; it’s not,” he continues. “It’s about friendship. John Hodge [the film’s screenwriter],has suggested a very peculiar alternate title that has to do with that idea. I can’t tell you what it is…but if we end using it, remember this conversation.”