But wait -- have no fear. Although reports of Russell's departure suggested that the project was dead, there's now a feverish kick to repopulate the piece with new talent, which could mean that this new incarnation will star Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper.
Deadline reports that Mike Newell ('Prince of Persia') has taken an early lead to replace Russell as director, with Neil Marshall ('Descent') also interested in jumping behind the camera. Meanwhile, sources tell the site that Johansson was tapped by Russell as Portman's replacement before his departure, so she's likely a frontrunner, while Bloody Disgusting's sources say that Cooper has received an offer for a role, along with Mia Wasikowska. Just to add one more name to the pot, the source also claims that there's "strong interest" in casting Tilda Swinton. Considering the age differences, and of course, the inclusion of Cooper, it looks like Lionsgate's eager to get a lot more than one female star added to the roster.
As the players change, the potential of the project is certainly morphing into something new. Russell and Portman were surprising picks who could very likely knock the pants off of audiences with something unexpected. Russell's resume boasts the likes of war comedy, existentialism and straight-forward fighting dramas, while Portman has wiped away any notion that her 'Professional' talents were dead with her performance in 'Black Swan.' Now, however, the feature is headed for something much closer to what fans would've expected -- a big name or two with some horror talent behind the scenes to morph it just right.
That being said -- are Cooper and Johansson the keys to zombie supremacy? Are you happy with the changes? Is this even a film that needs to be made? Weigh in below.