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Just what exactly happened with World War Z?

Jun. 14, 2012by: Alejandro Stepenberg

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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8:54PM on 06/14/2012
$200million on a zombie movie? During a time when we are over saturated with zombie movies (and tv shows)? SMART!
$200million on a zombie movie? During a time when we are over saturated with zombie movies (and tv shows)? SMART!
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6:34PM on 06/14/2012
Marc Forster is a terrible director. I can remember a time when I was excited for each project he took on, all of which seemed to hit different genres ala Boyle; that was before the major disappointments of Stay, Stranger Than Fiction, and Quantum of Solace. And with each of those films, he showed how absolutely BLAND he is as a director, with absolutely no style whatsoever (in contrast to Boyle's distinctly kinetic work in all of his films). Stay was one of my most anticipated movies but it
Marc Forster is a terrible director. I can remember a time when I was excited for each project he took on, all of which seemed to hit different genres ala Boyle; that was before the major disappointments of Stay, Stranger Than Fiction, and Quantum of Solace. And with each of those films, he showed how absolutely BLAND he is as a director, with absolutely no style whatsoever (in contrast to Boyle's distinctly kinetic work in all of his films). Stay was one of my most anticipated movies but it turned out to be not much more than a TV movie with rehashed ideas and the occasional neat transition. Stranger Than Fiction was the real opportunity for him to inject a really cool style and vibe into a high concept - instead, it just came off as bland and uninspired. And don't get me started on Quantum of Solace's lack of story fundamentals and the terribly directed action sequences. All three of those were mind-numbingly boring (Stranger Than Fiction despite Will Ferrell's excellent performance).

I had zero interest in this project basically due to his involvement so I'm not surprised in the least that there have been problems with his work. Maybe it's salvageable with the pedigree behind the rest of the crew. But I feel bad for fans of the book.
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2:29AM on 06/15/2012
completely disagrre with you about Stranger Than Fiction! That was a GREAT film and in my opinion Will Ferrell's best (besides Anchor Man)!
completely disagrre with you about Stranger Than Fiction! That was a GREAT film and in my opinion Will Ferrell's best (besides Anchor Man)!
4:40PM on 06/14/2012
The movie should have been made Citizen Kane style through flashback interviews similar to the book.
The movie should have been made Citizen Kane style through flashback interviews similar to the book.
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1:15PM on 06/14/2012
Just goes to show this should never have made in the first place. The book is one of my favorites, which is why I was so tentative about them turning into another piece of crap which is a misrepresentation of the source material.
Just goes to show this should never have made in the first place. The book is one of my favorites, which is why I was so tentative about them turning into another piece of crap which is a misrepresentation of the source material.
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+14
12:46PM on 06/14/2012

ugh

Fuck Marc foster....how the hell do you even ask what the zombies are going to be like....read Brook's books asshole! God what shitty director this is turning out to be, I loved World War Z but thanks to this prick were going to get some half assed Hollywood shit film and probably never get a good rendition.
Fuck Marc foster....how the hell do you even ask what the zombies are going to be like....read Brook's books asshole! God what shitty director this is turning out to be, I loved World War Z but thanks to this prick were going to get some half assed Hollywood shit film and probably never get a good rendition.
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12:27PM on 06/14/2012
Oh well. At least I'm a bit zombied out. There's always the novel to return to . . .
Oh well. At least I'm a bit zombied out. There's always the novel to return to . . .
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12:20PM on 06/14/2012
unlike some of the naysayers here, i have read the book and liked it alot. its one of the most original takes on a zombie apocalypse out there. but the way its structured is going to make filming it a bitch. for those who havent bothered to pick it up, it tells the story through dozens of survivor interviews, telling several perspectives of the war. a movie is only going to cut that into 5 or 6 tiny stories and rush over a lot of really cool stuff (i loved the ones in China, India, Africa and
unlike some of the naysayers here, i have read the book and liked it alot. its one of the most original takes on a zombie apocalypse out there. but the way its structured is going to make filming it a bitch. for those who havent bothered to pick it up, it tells the story through dozens of survivor interviews, telling several perspectives of the war. a movie is only going to cut that into 5 or 6 tiny stories and rush over a lot of really cool stuff (i loved the ones in China, India, Africa and the Battle of Yonkers). I dont think this movie will do it justice but I will throw $10 at it to see what sticks.
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11:40AM on 06/14/2012

Should've never been made.

Either way, whether tweaking the story (which will make it worse) or not, the book really isn't film-able. Not enough attacks, too much time spent on the war effort and bureaucratic nonsense, hell, I got so bored with the book I put it down halfway in. Really wanted to enjoy it (visualize it as a movie even), but I just couldn't.
Either way, whether tweaking the story (which will make it worse) or not, the book really isn't film-able. Not enough attacks, too much time spent on the war effort and bureaucratic nonsense, hell, I got so bored with the book I put it down halfway in. Really wanted to enjoy it (visualize it as a movie even), but I just couldn't.
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11:29AM on 06/14/2012
gotta at least give them credit for recognizing that it can be better and working on it rather than just throwing it together and getting it in theaters
gotta at least give them credit for recognizing that it can be better and working on it rather than just throwing it together and getting it in theaters
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10:39AM on 06/14/2012
Pfff, World War Z...

Let it go all ready. Haven't read it, never will, sounds like Rant with zombies.

And don't get me wrong a "big-budget zombie flick starring Brad Pitt" is right up my alley.
Pfff, World War Z...

Let it go all ready. Haven't read it, never will, sounds like Rant with zombies.

And don't get me wrong a "big-budget zombie flick starring Brad Pitt" is right up my alley.
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10:34AM on 06/14/2012
It sucks to hear this kind of news. This movie has potential, and I am eager to see more of this. But with this problem, we'll never know what happens next.
It sucks to hear this kind of news. This movie has potential, and I am eager to see more of this. But with this problem, we'll never know what happens next.
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10:23AM on 06/14/2012
Between World War Z and G.I. Joe, is Paramount in complete meltdown?
Between World War Z and G.I. Joe, is Paramount in complete meltdown?
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10:18AM on 06/14/2012
When you think Zombie Apocalypse, do you think PG-13? Fuck this. There's no hope for an R-rating with the budget approaching $200M.

This shoulda been a badass $120M R-rated epic. They still make those and they open north of $50M.
When you think Zombie Apocalypse, do you think PG-13? Fuck this. There's no hope for an R-rating with the budget approaching $200M.

This shoulda been a badass $120M R-rated epic. They still make those and they open north of $50M.
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10:10AM on 06/14/2012

You take a solid story and retool it

and then you find problems with your new story?

You were kind of asking for this.

It should have been an anthology, being strung together by the journalist.
and then you find problems with your new story?

You were kind of asking for this.

It should have been an anthology, being strung together by the journalist.
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8:46AM on 06/14/2012

Let them reshoot and make it perfect!

This sounds like it will end up being the most expensive zombie movie ever made! I say let's not worry about the reshoots, they will probably make the film that much better. Still looking forward to it.
This sounds like it will end up being the most expensive zombie movie ever made! I say let's not worry about the reshoots, they will probably make the film that much better. Still looking forward to it.
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