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Paramount goes on the defense for Brad Pitt's World War Z; Is it "better than good"?

05.10.2013

Brad Pitt's WORLD WAR Z has been through the ringer quite a bit so far, especially for a movie that hasn't played in front of the masses yet. Paramount optioned the book in 2006 for Pitt's Plan B produciton company, who in turn hired J. Michael Straczynski to pen the script. Straczynski did a few rewrites after the first draft, which later was taken over by Matthew Michael Carnahan. Carnahan, in turn, made a number of changes, notably upping the action quotient. However, by the time the film got underway, they still didn't have a well thought out third act, a feat especially difficult since, really, neither did the book, which is a series of vignettes with varying characters throughout the zombie apocalypse.

Writer Damon Lindelof was brought in at the last minute to help solve the issue, which he did by suggesting something entirely new, essentially tossing out the ending they'd already shot. Paramount believed it was the right way to go and invested in the new ending, which was another nail in the media circus coffin for the movie. It was now labeled a disaster that will likely sink at the box office.

However, Paramount is now responding to the criticism and media scrutiny, including the Vanity Fair piece that dove into the troubled production and the Wall Street Journal analysis that said it would flop. Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore defends the film and offers his perception on the negative media attention, saying:

"When you draw attention to yourself by acknowledging you have a problem you’re trying to fix, it becomes sport to the media to pick on you. It becomes hard to say, we don’t care about the short term publicity hit, what we care about is making the best movie. The political pressure against you becomes great and can make it seem like it’s better to leave it alone. Here, that pressure was even bigger because it is Brad Pitt, and because of the size of the solution. But I’m telling you right here, it was definitely the right call. We now have the best version of this movie, and people will see that soon."

Moore told this to Mike Fleming Jr. at Deadline, who screened the film as well. Fleming's thoughts? Better than you would expect given the critical attention thus far:

"I’m no reviewer but I can honestly say that it’s better than good; try a rocking, smart, pulse pounding big scale pandemic with raging zombies, tension and the kind of hero star turn Pitt hasn’t done in a long time."

Fleming goes on to say that his positive response makes it easy to admit that the film works, saying:

"I don’t know if I would have written anything had I hated the movie, but it’s easy for me to write this because I consider myself a connoisseur of zombie fare, and this stacks up very favorably."

So, could things be looking up for WORLD WAR Z? After reading pretty much every positive and negative aspect of the production (as well as the actual book) and the general vibe I get from the trailers, I'm more optimistic than pessimistic about WORLD WAR Z. With Zombies being so in vogue and the worldwide box office more prominent than ever, I highly doubt that a zombie actioner starring Brad Pitt will belly flop. Even if it's not a major hit, I think it will turn a profit.

Marc Forster, in the VF article, was enthusiastic in his parting thoughts on the film, saying:

For me, it’s like, I had a good time on this film. I didn’t feel like it was a big drama. I feel like, yes, the ending didn’t work. Yes, we all thought it was going to work. Yes, we decided it’s not the right ending. Yes, we decided to change it and spend more money. Yes, it never happened to me before on any of my other movies. But I think this movie is more original and bigger and more special than I have ever done before.”

WORLD WAR Z will test its box office mettle on June 21, 2013.

Extra Tidbit: Does this make you feel any better about catching WWZ in theaters?
Source: DeadlineVanity Fair

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