A few weeks before its opening, Paramount's "World War Z" zombie thriller was being labeled an over-budget dud, doomed to repeat the failures of past spectacularly failed Hollywood productions. After an estimated $111.8 million worldwide opening, it's a new symbol of critical decision making, money well spent, and solid teamwork. In other words, the zombie apocalypse appears to be on solid footing.

Paramount cemented its commitment to giving Brad Pitt his first movie franchise by announcing today the development of a sequel to "World War Z." Before reshoots forced an ending change, a trilogy was always in the cards, but poor publicity earlier this year caused the studio to scale back its ambitions. Now, with positive buzz and money in hand, we can look forward to Brad Pitt and Co. yet again fighting the undead a few summers from now.

"I think the movie captured the public's imagination with something that is fresh and different," studio Vice Chairman Rob Moore told The Hollywood Reporter. "And certainly, Brad gave a superb performance."

In North America, "World War Z" raked in $66 million — the best-ever opening for Pitt's career and, shockingly, the best opening ever for an original live-action summer flick since James Cameron's "Avatar."

So what might we expect from a "World War Z" sequel? Movies.com got their hands on an early script that features a bleaker ending than what's currently in the movie. It's worth noting that much of it was actually filmed before being scrapped and re-shot for an estimated $15-$20 million. It's unclear whether Paramount would ever show these scenes as a DVD bonus — but certainly, the studio must be eyeing them as a potential bridge for the sequel. Also, as fans of Max Brooks' novel of the same name will tell you, there's plenty left of the zombie apocalypse to showcase, including The Battle of Yonkers, General Raj-Singh and South Africa.

So what do you think? Does the film deserve the franchise tag? Hit the comments below to give me your thoughts.

Related on MNN: Best places in the U.S. to survive the apocalypse

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

'World War Z' sequel rises from the grave
After a better-than-expected opening weekend, Paramount greenlights production on a second film.