World War Z 2 is on hold, so Brad Pitt may head to space for next film

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May 2, 2017, 12:47 PM EDT (Updated)

Brad Pitt apparently still wants to scratch his sci-fi itch.

With his tentpole sequel World War Z 2 now removed from its release date -- at least temporarily -- the actor and producer suddenly has a hole in his schedule to fill. According to Deadline, he may solve that problem by heading to space in a movie called Ad Astra, a long-in-development project from director and co-screenwriter James Gray.

Formerly known as To the Stars (that's what "ad astra" means in Latin), the film is about a slightly autistic engineer who ventures into space to find out what happened to his father, who vanished 20 years earlier on a mission to search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence near Neptune.

Gray, whose movies include The Immigrant and the upcoming The Lost City of Z (in which Pitt was supposed to star at one point), wrote Ad Astra with Ethan Gross and said about the project, "Audiences have seen everything, there's nothing that’s going to be 'awe-inspiring.' What happens really is that you have to come up with something conceptually amazing, not visually amazing. And that's a challenge. It's a challenge and I don't want to make the film unless I think I've gotten it right."

Pitt has only dabbled in science fiction twice before, with World War Z in 2013 and more than 20 years ago in Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys (for which the actor earned a Golden Globe win and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor). Ad Astra would mark the first time the actor takes a role in a movie set in space. If a deal can be arranged and the movie's budget and other details fall into place, Gray could begin shooting the picture with Pitt sometime this summer.

As for World War Z 2, the sequel to Pitt's hit about a global zombie apocalypse has gone through several drafts of its script and lost its director, J.A. Bayona, last year to Jurassic World 2. With no one set to replace Bayona and a new script still in the works, Paramount Pictures had no choice but to pull the movie from its improbable June 2017 release date. The word now is that Pitt has asked his old pal David Fincher -- with whom he has worked on Seven, Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button -- to direct. Fincher, who has not done a sequel in an existing franchise since his feature debut, 1992's Alien 3, is reportedly interested.

But World War Z 2's delay may end up allowing Ad Astra, an original sci-fi film, to get to the screen with Pitt starring. Not such a bad trade-off, eh?

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