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There are a couple of different ways that one can watch Marc Forster’s World War Z when the movie finally opens in theaters on Friday, June 21. You can challenge it to live up to your lofty expectations if you happened to read Max Brooks’ source novel (which tells its story in a completely different fashion). You can attempt to enjoy it as a large-scale, apocalyptic summer popcorn thriller. Or you can analyze it scene by scene to see where the “old” version of Forster’s movie stops and the “corrected” version begins.
It’s possible you aren’t aware of this, but Forster’s production endured a very difficult, rocky and tumultuous schedule that – according to reports – led to costly reshoots, multiple rewrites, and a new ending that fixed the previous conclusion (which wasn’t working). If that side of the movie’s existence interests you, your “Bible” will be the Vanity Fair cover story from earlier this year that documents several of the problems the movie endured.
But with the movie approaching, The Huffington Post quotes a source about specific scenes that were altered. Consider waiting if you haven’t yet seen World War Z and want to remain unspoiled.
Still with us? Here's the “dividing line” between the initial film Forster worked on and the reshoots – most of which were penned by the trio of Damon Lindelof, Drew Goddard and Christopher McQuarrie. Reports say that the original ending of the movie, which involved a large-scale zombie battle in Russia, didn’t work. And so the minute Pitt’s character boards an airplane in Jerusalem, the new ending kicks in – including the chaotic mid-air attack that you can see in most of the film’s trailers:
HuffPo confirms, “Everything starting with [Pitt’s character Gerry] Lane entering the aircraft, including every incident on the flight, was written by Goddard and Lindelof.” The rewrites also get credit for a completely different ending, which builds more suspense than a digital Russian battle likely would have generated.
But that’s not all. The HuffPo story says that certain scenes spotted in the trailers also were rewrites, including the opening of Pitt and his family at the breakfast counter watching news reports about the outbreak, and a couple of slower-beat character moments involving phone calls and conversations that give a nice reprieve from the zombie action.
There will be a ton of discussions over the next few days and weeks as to whether or not the corrections helped Z enough to succeed at the box office. I believe that the movie works very well in its current state, and I prefer the ending that exists now versus the big battle one we won’t be able to see (unless it’s on a DVD at some point in the future). Either way, this behind-the-scenes insight is priceless, and probably will get curious folks into the theaters to see where Z has been stitched together like a rag doll.