The Walking Dead is a franchise with a lot of potential past the initial series—just look at all the spinoffs. But it isn’t the only zombie apocalypse ripe for further exploration. Zombieland, the cult classic horror comedy from 2009, is a perfect example of a franchise that deserves more spinoffs than the one single sequel fans have gotten so far. That reminds us, you should go watch Zombieland on Netflix before it leaves on October 1—if you don’t, the FOMO might eat you alive.
For those who haven’t explored any zombie media outside of The Walking Dead, Zombieland is a horror comedy from 2009 starring Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, and Abigail Breslin. The movie follows a group of survivors, all named after cities, trying to stay alive during the zombie apocalypse and having a blast while doing so.
The possibilities for Zombieland sequels, spinoffs, and prequels are like the appetite of an undead flesh-eater—endless.
The movie puts a fun spin on the typical zombie story, with Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) constantly breaking the fourth wall by telling the audience about his various survival rules.
The movie is a lighthearted contrast to the pessimistic drama found in The Walking Dead, and it’s various spinoff media. The best part of the film is an extended cameo from Bill Murray as himself that has to be seen to be believed.
Zombieland is such a fun—and gruesome—time that it’s crazy the only addition to the Zombieland universe was a single sequel, 2019’s Zombieland: Double Tap, which, while still fun, is nowhere near as memorable as the first one.
The Zombieland TV Show
Believe it or not, a Zombieland television series was attempted…with disastrous results. In 2013, Amazon Studios ordered a pilot for a potential Zombieland television show to compete with the then-still super-popular The Walking Dead. The pilot was then shown on Amazon Prime Video to gauge fan response.
The fan response was overwhelmingly negative. The pilot’s creator, Rhett Reese—the same person who wrote both Zombieland films—took to social media after Amazon announced the pilot would not be picked up and expressed his frustration with the fan’s reaction to the pilot. “I’ll never understand the vehement hate the pilot received from die-hard Zombieland fans. You guys successfully hated it out of existence,” wrote Reese.
The problem with the Zombieland pilot was that it essentially retold the plot of the movie with new actors playing the same characters. No shade to Kirk Ward, who played Tallahassee in the Amazon pilot, but Woody Harrelson is Tallahassee. In fact, all of the performances in Zombieland were so iconic that continuing their adventures on television with a new cast was a fool’s errand.
Making Successful Zombieland IP
That’s not to say that a Zombieland series couldn’t work with a different approach. Perhaps the property could take a lesson from Tales of The Walking Dead and make a Zombieland TV show that’s an anthology featuring a different story every week. Or maybe the Fargo method would work where each season follows a different group of survivors and keeps the tone of the original movie.
Even something like What We Do in the Shadows would work where the cast never changes as long as the characters are different from the ones in the movie. That’s the real trick for a Zombieland series: don’t try to continue the story from the films but rather do your own thing in the Zombieland universe.
Of course, if the creators behind Zombieland are hellbent on using someone from the original film, they should at least follow The Walking Dead’s lead and make it a spinoff following a familiar character in a new situation, ala The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon.
A Zombieland spinoff called Zombieland: Obey the Rules, following Columbus around as he comes up with new rules for surviving Zombieland, could be fun. Or if he’s up for it, a limited series or spinoff film starring Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee called Zombieland: World War T or something like that would definitely grab the fan’s attention.
If sequels aren’t a direction Zombieland wants to continue going in, the creators could always go the prequel route like the first Walking Dead spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead.
A prequel starring Wichita and Little Rock as sisters grifting their way around the country prior to meeting Columbus and Tallahassee would be a fantastic idea for a Zombieland spinoff, film, or otherwise. The bonus in doing such a project is that the studio has carte blanche to recast the parts with younger actors—actors who presumably don’t draw a salary as high as Emma Stone’s or Abigail Breslin’s.
Ultimately, the possibilities for Zombieland sequels, spinoffs, and prequels are like the appetite of an undead flesh-eater—endless. After all, why should The Walking Dead get all of the fun? Go watch Zombieland again on Netflix, and we think you’ll agree.
Heck, you might even think up some spinoff ideas yourself. You better hurry, though, because come October 1, Zombieland will be leaving Netflix, and when that happens, the movie will be harder to find than a Twinkie in the zombie apocalypse!