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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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6:49PM on 05/10/2013
When Brad Pitt paid Max Brooks $1 Million for the rights to World War Z, Brooks became the highest paid writer of all time. Think about it, that's 333K per word.
When Brad Pitt paid Max Brooks $1 Million for the rights to World War Z, Brooks became the highest paid writer of all time. Think about it, that's 333K per word.
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8:26PM on 05/10/2013
Brad Pitt may give a stellar performance and be a great screen presence, and the story they penned could be interesting and good, but a bloodless PG-13 zombie apocalypse movie is not going to satisfy anyone who's anyone that wants a zombie apocalypse movie
Brad Pitt may give a stellar performance and be a great screen presence, and the story they penned could be interesting and good, but a bloodless PG-13 zombie apocalypse movie is not going to satisfy anyone who's anyone that wants a zombie apocalypse movie
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+15
6:40PM on 05/10/2013
If it's not an actor in makeup, it's not a zombie. This movie is "Attack of the CGI Ant-like People". Someday they'll really get around to making World War Z.
If it's not an actor in makeup, it's not a zombie. This movie is "Attack of the CGI Ant-like People". Someday they'll really get around to making World War Z.
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7:03PM on 05/10/2013
I haven't read the book, so I don't care about the drama about the movie's "troubled" production, and I look forward to see it. The trailers looked good.
I haven't read the book, so I don't care about the drama about the movie's "troubled" production, and I look forward to see it. The trailers looked good.
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+8
6:45PM on 05/10/2013

Is it just me or... ?

I don't like the fact that they responded at all. It will speak for itself...
I don't like the fact that they responded at all. It will speak for itself...
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9:15PM on 05/10/2013
Movies have had troubled productions before and ended up being critical and financial hits, I think this might be the case.
Movies have had troubled productions before and ended up being critical and financial hits, I think this might be the case.
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+7
6:52PM on 05/10/2013
Paul said it best, I'm more optimistic than pessimistic. I'll definitely see it in theaters. I'm trying to think, but I can't recall seeing a terrible Brad Pitt film in a while. He's been solid since 'Assassination of Jesse James', he's earned the benefit of the doubt and my $15 to see the movie. At least in my opinion.
Paul said it best, I'm more optimistic than pessimistic. I'll definitely see it in theaters. I'm trying to think, but I can't recall seeing a terrible Brad Pitt film in a while. He's been solid since 'Assassination of Jesse James', he's earned the benefit of the doubt and my $15 to see the movie. At least in my opinion.
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+7
6:47PM on 05/10/2013
This movie is going to lose an absolute shit ton of money.
This movie is going to lose an absolute shit ton of money.
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11:49PM on 05/10/2013
I've read the book and I enjoyed the hell out of it. But to turn a book with that type of content in it into a movie would be a serious undertaking. One that would be a hot mess. The book would translate very well onto the small screen (AMC, HBO, etc.) This film, as divisive and deviant as it is from the book, looks to be a fun time at the theaters this summer.
That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.
I've read the book and I enjoyed the hell out of it. But to turn a book with that type of content in it into a movie would be a serious undertaking. One that would be a hot mess. The book would translate very well onto the small screen (AMC, HBO, etc.) This film, as divisive and deviant as it is from the book, looks to be a fun time at the theaters this summer.
That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.
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8:25PM on 05/10/2013
Serious question, do zombie movies make money?
Serious question, do zombie movies make money?
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3:59AM on 05/11/2013
Serious answer, yes.
Serious answer, yes.
8:29AM on 05/11/2013
Even though the movie might not turn out to be good, there're still lots of zombie-related audiences all around the world so it would still be a hit.
Even though the movie might not turn out to be good, there're still lots of zombie-related audiences all around the world so it would still be a hit.
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+1
3:49AM on 05/12/2013
I have no reason to believe the guy from Deadline was anything less than objective in his praise for the film. In fact, Deadline usually takes a certain kind of glee in reporting on production turmoil and the resultant failure. I'm glad to hear something positive. Some people decided long, long ago they weren't going to like this movie no matter what (not close enough to the book, running zombies, PG-13 , etc.) and nothing is going to change their minds.

As a big fan of the book, I'm glad
I have no reason to believe the guy from Deadline was anything less than objective in his praise for the film. In fact, Deadline usually takes a certain kind of glee in reporting on production turmoil and the resultant failure. I'm glad to hear something positive. Some people decided long, long ago they weren't going to like this movie no matter what (not close enough to the book, running zombies, PG-13 , etc.) and nothing is going to change their minds.

As a big fan of the book, I'm glad they at least attempted an adaptation and I hope to be presently surprised by the movie. Given the amount of money they spent it will need to sell a shitload of tickets to be considered a hit.
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10:07AM on 05/11/2013

When Paramount has to defend their movie...

It reminds me of Fox protecting Xmen Origins. It is going to be a horrible movie, no doubt about it now. I know zombies are"in" these days but we have seen zombie movies fail already this year. People will see this is a horrible PG-13 rated movie with less gore than a tv show somehow and they will avoid it at all cost. This will be the biggest flop of the year.
It reminds me of Fox protecting Xmen Origins. It is going to be a horrible movie, no doubt about it now. I know zombies are"in" these days but we have seen zombie movies fail already this year. People will see this is a horrible PG-13 rated movie with less gore than a tv show somehow and they will avoid it at all cost. This will be the biggest flop of the year.
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1:56AM on 05/11/2013

My only problem

Is the CGI and they aren't really zombies they are infected people. Like its cool if they run 130MPH but the CGI looks terrible. I am just going in for a popcorn fun flick and maybe I'll enjoy maybe I wanted something really serious. LOL
Is the CGI and they aren't really zombies they are infected people. Like its cool if they run 130MPH but the CGI looks terrible. I am just going in for a popcorn fun flick and maybe I'll enjoy maybe I wanted something really serious. LOL
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11:02AM on 05/13/2013

Shut your mouth before I F*&$ it. Thank you.

His hair looks amazing, the movie will be fine.
His hair looks amazing, the movie will be fine.
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10:30AM on 05/12/2013
Still will go see it, for Mireille Enos, Loved her in the Killing. As for the PG-13 affair, just don't expect anything special.
Still will go see it, for Mireille Enos, Loved her in the Killing. As for the PG-13 affair, just don't expect anything special.
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7:51PM on 05/11/2013

Trainwreck

Several years ago this may have been OK, but the zombie craze is getting old. Odd that one of the books that started the craze becomes one of the last made into a movie.
The SPFX also look TERRIBLE. I will not watch this in the theaters and unless it gets surprise good reviews I will skip the DVD too.
Several years ago this may have been OK, but the zombie craze is getting old. Odd that one of the books that started the craze becomes one of the last made into a movie.
The SPFX also look TERRIBLE. I will not watch this in the theaters and unless it gets surprise good reviews I will skip the DVD too.
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11:16PM on 05/10/2013
Zombies don't run.... This movie is going to be awful! Cgi zombies??? And some of u people think this looks good?? God, I thought ppl actually had taste on this site
Zombies don't run.... This movie is going to be awful! Cgi zombies??? And some of u people think this looks good?? God, I thought ppl actually had taste on this site
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11:44PM on 05/10/2013
Different strokes for different folks, man.
Different strokes for different folks, man.
3:58AM on 05/11/2013
Zombies do whatever the heck any writer wants them to do... Because they don't exist
Zombies do whatever the heck any writer wants them to do... Because they don't exist
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