World War Z, the adaptation of the best selling Max Brooks novel, has had troubled buzz for some time now and the new Vanity Fair cover story isn’t helping things. Publications everywhere have jumped all over the behind the scenes stories of what’s gone wrong with what seemed such a sure bet, to the point where even the Enquirer has done a report on this. (‘Brad Lost: The Naked & The Undead.’)
Screenwriter Damon Lindelof (‘Lost,’ ‘Prometheus’) did some emergency script doctor work on the film, the budget has reportedly hit a whopping $200 million, and forty minutes of the movie had to be reshot, which is not a great sign. Pitt told Lindelof, “The thing we really need right now is someone who is not burdened by all the history that this thing is inheriting, who can see what we’ve got and tell us how to get to where we need to get.”
As Lindelof recalled the ending was “abrupt and incoherent” and an executive at Paramount realized, “Wow. The ending in our movie doesn’t work. I believed in that moment we needed to reshoot the movie.” So a big zombie battle in Russia that lasted twelve minutes got dumped, a new ending was written and the reshoot went forward. Lindelof didn’t feel this was the best way to go, and felt making changes to what already existed would be much better, as well as less expensive, but the studio didn’t go that way.
So now the bad headlines are all over the ‘net like Atlantic Wire telling us, ‘World War Z is Beginning to Look a Lot Like Ishtar,’ Moviefone’s ‘Zombies Were the Least of the Movie’s Problems,’ and Yahoo!’s ‘Brad Pitt’s $200 Million Nightmare Exposed.’ The excerpts so far also don’t go into the “on-set drama” that you can further read about in Vanity Fair.
How did all this go wrong? It makes you shake your head, especially considering the book is still on the best-seller list since its 2006 publication, and zombies are still on top with the incredible success of ‘The Walking Dead.’ (This was another concern with ‘World War Z,’ that zombies would be played out by the time the movie came out, but at least Paramount doesn’t have to worry about that.)
Still, nobody’s seen the finished product yet, and there’s always the possibility that Pitt and company could pull it together. It’s been a long time since the press has had a really troubled production to write about, a la ‘Heaven’s Gate,’ ‘Waterworld,’ or ‘Titanic’ before anyone actually saw it, ‘ so ‘World War Z’ is the current whipping boy in this regard.
As these reports prove, making any movie is difficult let alone a movie where zombies take over the world. Although George Romero’s been able to do it quite well without spending anywhere near $200 million. (Come to think about it, all of his ‘Dead’ movies together probably haven’t cost $200 million…)