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Just what exactly happened with World War Z?

06.14.2012

World War Z concept art 3

Last we heard on the big-budget zombie front, PROMETHEUS scribe Damon Lindelof had been brought in to do a bit of script revision.  This, coupled with the news that WORLD WAR Z would be delayed six months into the summer of 2013 to allow for 5-7 weeks of reshoots this fall, certainly did not do anything to instill the confidence that Paramount's production ws anything less than extremely troubled.  But the question, just like the one which the book WORLD WAR Z itself asks, is: just what exactly happened?

WORLD WAR Z was originally intended as a trilogy with deeper ramifications than that of most big-budget event movies, with Pitt and company intending to "use it as a Trojan horse for sociopolitical problems, [and ask] what would the effect on the world be if everything we knew was upside-down and pulled out from under us?” Which is ironic, considering how things have progressed with the production.  And the general consensus seems to be that the greatest amount of fault lies in the lap of director Marc Forster.  Chosen by Brad Pitt, the word is that Forster has struggled immensely with handling the visuals and budget necessary to make this movie and that the budget has already spiraled well north of $170 million, a figure which doesn't even include the weeks of reshoots this fall. 

World War Z filming

Three weeks before shooting began, it is reported that Forster did not yet know what the zombies looked like or how they would move, something sort of important for a movie all about zombies.  Forster was also not allowed to bring in his normal production team, and so clash upon clash occured with a disparate behind-the-scenes team that inlcuded cinematographer Robert Richardson (HUGO) and effects supervisor John Nelson (GLADIATOR).  The idea was, in theory, that Forster "could focus on character and story while a strong crew could guide him on action and effects," which of course didn't work at all as a strong directorial voice is absolutely necessary for this sort of undertaking. 

Pitt was working on KILLING THEM SOFTLY and then taking some time to be with his family, so when he and his producing partner Dede Gardner finally checked in the project a few weeks before production was set to begin  “the disaster was already well in the making.” And then there was the small situation where "a Hungarian anti-terrorism unit raided an airport warehouse and confiscated 85 fully functional automatic assault rifles that were to be used on the shoot," which was kind of a really bad thing as such weapons are illegal to transport into Hungary and should never have been operational to begin with.  As you can imagine, this did no favors for a production already behind schedule and over budget.

Some hope may be found in the comments that "The footage from this film looks fantastic, but we all agreed it can have a better ending" and "It’s a great first 45 minutes, maybe even an hour," but there's still a long way to go before picture lock and then release in the summer of 2013.  Even if we don't get a trilogy, just one solid big-budget zombie flick starring Brad Pitt would be plenty nice enough. 

Here's to hoping.

World War Z concept art 2

Extra Tidbit: The (sad) word is that Keanu Reeves' 47 RONIN is facing similar troubles in terms of a fresh director taking on a big-budget task, hence why its budget has spiraled into $175-$200 million territory and the movie has been delayed into the beginning of 2013.

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