Based on the book by Max Brooks (son of legendary funnyman Mel and his late wife Anne Bancroft), "World War Z" was picked up by Paramount for Brad Pitt's Plan B production company way back in 2006. Pitt, who is also a producer, stars as Gerry Lane, a United Nations employee separated from his wife and children during a worldwide zombie outbreak.
"World War Z" was originally slated for last Christmas, but problems with the script, the budget, and even the ending of the movie meant the release date was moved back six months to June 21, 2013.
It seems like from the beginning the main problem was trying to find the tone of the movie. Director Marc Forster is known more for his dramatic films than actioners, like his Bond film "Quantum of Solace." Screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski turned in two drafts of the film to no avail; they didn't jibe with what Forster and the others had in mind. Straczynski told Vanity Fair, "Marc wanted to make a big, huge action movie that wasn't terribly smart and had big, huge action pieces in it... If all you wanted to do was an empty-headed Rambo-versus-the-zombies action film, why option this really elegant, smart book?"
Matthew Carnahan was hired to do another draft, which had a different vibe from Straczynski's -- more action and horror was afoot, with Pitt "hopscotch[ing] the globe seeking a cure to save the world from zombie domination."
Finally, Damon Lindelof was brought onboard to reshape the movie a bit and come up with a new ending. Lindelof brought Drew Goddard ("The Cabin in the Woods") to help. (According to Vanity Fair, "Jack Reacher" writer/director Christopher McQuarrie was hired "to remain on set and revise the script as needed.") Plus, Pitt was pushing for a little more violence and gore than the contracted PG-13 might allow.
All this was on top of budget problems; a shoot in Malta for a giant zombie action scene put the movie over budget, which ended up being more than $170 million, according to Paramount. (TheWrap.com puts it at $200M.) And then there was SWAT Team raid at an airport in Budapest, because weapons flown in from London for a final battle between humans and zombies "had not been fully discharged."
In the end, we will have to wait until June to find out if "World War Z" was worth the mishegoss for everyone involved, and if it will make enough money to be worth it. Pitt's an international star, and it's hoped that will help at the box office. Paramount's VP Rob Moore told Vanity Fair, "China has become the second-biggest market, and we evaluate how things play there."
All in all, chances are high that lots of people will shell out their hard-earned cash to see Brad Pitt and zombies on the same screen this summer.
[h/t The Wrap]
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