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’28 Years Later’: Everything We Know So Far About

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January 2024 saw the announcement of plans for a new 28 Days Later trilogy. The planned 28 Years Later story will span three films, as trilogies are known to do, and will bring back many critical players. Few details have been released in the months since the first announcement. That will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future. 

While fans clamor for more information, we know that the franchise is a classic known for reinvigorating a previously slumping zombie Horror subgenre. Twenty-two years since the first film’s release and facing tall expectations, will the 28 Years Later trilogy deliver? 

What We Know About the 28 Years Later Plot So Far

Much like Jim’s first few iconic scenes in 28 Days Later, the public has no idea what’s happening with 28 Years Later. The only thing we’re pretty sure of is that it will take place, you guessed it, 28 years after the events that saw Jim (Cillian Murphy), Selena (Naomie Harris), and Hannah (Megan Burns) survive long enough to make it to a rural cottage safe house. No other specifics have been released, leading to rampant speculation about the cast, story, and setting. Like Murphy, numerous theories about the possible return of Selena, Hannah, and surviving 28 Weeks Later stars, siblings Tammy and Andy, have all been speculated upon by fans and news outlets. 

The plot could go in several directions. Undoubtedly, it will continue to explore the ramifications of the rage virus and its substantial impact on society. The first two iterations touched on numerous societal concerns, including but not limited to survival and human nature, isolation, loneliness, societal breakdown, morality, guilt, power, and the military. Since the first movie’s release in 2002, the world has had to face the effects of many local and global pandemics, including COVID-19, SARS, Ebola, H1N1, MERS, and Zika viruses—no word on if or how these real-life tragedies will impact the story. 

As for the setting, while London or England at large would make the most sense, 28 Weeks Later concluded with Tammy and Andy flying away from their home country. Meanwhile, a horde of unnamed infected storm Paris, with the Eiffel Tower as its backdrop–providing producers a feasible option to move the story away from England. 

What We Know About the 28 Years Later Production So Far

Unlike the plot, we know some critical details about the planned trilogy. 

Key components of the first film are back on board. Director Danny Boyle is slated to helm the first part of the new trilogy. Alex Garland is set to return and handle script duties. Star Cillian Murphy is also involved, this time as a producer. Murphy is joined by other producers on the project, including original backers Andrew Macdonald and Peter Rice.

There is no word on whether Murphy will reprise his role as Jim on screen. Murphy was not available for comment, per his press team. Nor is there any indication of a director for the second and third installments. Garland is committed to writing all three scripts, with some speculating that he could be the natural successor once Boyle bows out. The move would make sense for a talent of Garland’s caliber. Since 28 Days Later‘s conclusion, Garland has gone on to write and direct hits like Ex Machina and Annihilation. 

The mid-January announcement came without a studio attached. However, after a lengthy bidding war, Sony won the rights. The studio took over distribution rights for the franchise after Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic handled the US duties for the first two movies. In recent years, Sony has released scores of Horror films to varying degrees of success, including hits like Don’t Breathe and The Shallows, and franchises including Evil Dead, Insidious, and Lake Placid. 28 Years Later isn’t the studio’s first foray into the infected either, after heading up distribution for the Resident Evil franchise. 

Each entry has been allotted an approximate $60 million US budget, a steep increase from the first two films, which cost roughly $8 million and $15 million, respectively. No release dates for the project have been announced. 

Franchise Impact

The 28 Days Later franchise is one of the most important entries in Horror and the zombie subgenre. Without the 2002 film, the zombie/infected genre would likely be nowhere close to what it is today. 28 Days Later created a ripple effect for the mythical beings that has only been bested by Twilight’s impact on vampires a few years later. 

The zombie genre had sagged significantly in the late 90s and early 2000s. While undead-themed productions continued to be made, the genre had lost fan appeal and much of its cultural impact. 28 Days Later blew the doors off the hinges and ushered back in socially important, relevant themes. It also reinvigorated the depiction of zombies by popularizing the fast-moving, aggressive elements sparingly used in the genre beforehand. 

Referred to as the Infected, not zombies, the once-innocent Londoners became Olympic-caliber sprinters with an unending, singular focus. Unlike the Romero-era zombies, who craved flesh and blood, the Infected’s sole purpose focused on spreading the rage virus to any humans they encountered. This stunning twist launched a slew of interpretations, including the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. 

Thanks to its release, subsequent zombie films, TV, and other productions dabbled with their monsters much more, featuring infected/zombies as slow or fast-moving threats. Simultaneously, the newfound popularity of the genre allowed some to move into comedic zombie takes, including Fido, Warm Bodies, and arguably the greatest of the bunch, Shaun of the Dead

The franchise has also been critical in elevating the status of several major players. Examples include Harris and Imogen Poots, with the two films often referred to as their star-making vehicles. Already growing Hollywood names bolstered by their participation in the more star-studded sequel included Jeremy Renner, Idris Elba, and Rose Byrne. 

What Can We Expect?

Little is known about 28 Years Later at this time. That may remain the case until the first entry hits theatres at a currently unknown date. But with central figures back on board, the expectations are no doubt through the roof. 28 Years Later has the people, budget, and name value to be a bona fide hit if it plays its cards right. As we’ve seen from several rehashed franchises turned trilogies, things can go awry. Still, fans are rightfully optimistic about the return of one of the most influential franchises in Horror history. 

We’ll have to wait patiently for the film’s release, which should come sometime between 28 weeks and 28 years from now. Keep checking Dread Central for all the latest updates. 

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