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It was little more than a year ago that Brad Pitt's World War Z seemed doomed to be a massive flop. The big-scale zombie apocalypse movie, loosely based on the popular faux-historical novel by Max Brooks, was by many accounts crumbling in production. After various issues arose, director Marc Forster was said to be fighting for control with storied cinematographer Robert Richardson, who was rumored to have tried to quit mid-project. Then news surfaced that producer/star Pitt was no longer on speaking terms with Forster. Added to production delays, release date shifts, seven weeks of re-shoots and a complete rewrite of the film's final act, and World War Z looked like it would be DOA. But to the surprise of critics and moviegoers around the world, while flawed, it's turned out to be a pretty fun and shockingly cohesive movie.
This leaves us wondering how much was really changed in that seven week reshoot? (Spoilers ahead as we will be discussing in detail the end of World War Z.) Last week details on what last-minute hires Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard brought to the screenplay were revealed, telling us that essentially everything after Gerry (Pitt) boards the plane leaving Jerusalem is new. There was some mention that the prior finale involved a big bloody battle in Russia, but not much else was said as to what was discarded from the old draft of the film. But Movies.com has uncovered an early draft of the screenplay, and while it's unknown how much of this version was actually shot, it presents a very different and much bleaker World War Z.
So, instead of Gerry and Israel soldier Segen ending up at the World Health Organization facility, where they discover that people with terminal illnesses are invisible to the zombie, World War Z's original ending has the pair headed to Moscow, where they arrive without incident. From there the passengers are divided. The sick and elderly are executed and everyone else (Gerry included) are forced into military service to fight the zombie threat. Here Gerry loses his cell phone and thereby his lifeline to his wife and kids.
Cut to: months later, Gerry is a cold-eyed but effective zombie killer, leading a battalion who kills with Lobos, a sort of shovel/battle axe mentioned in the original book. Movies.com has a lot of details about how the battles in Russia go, including a bizarre decision to divide up the fighters by their religion and a discovery about how to stop the zombies that's totally, totally different from the one we see on film.
After more successes on the zombie battling front, he finally calls Karin, who like in the movie has been moved to a refugee camp. But in this version, it's in the Everglades far from the protection of cold temperatures. Worse yet it's the kind of place where you are forced to barter for safety, and Karin's been bartering her body to a sleazy soldier who months before had helped Gerry and the kids into that saving helicopter. If you were watching very, very closely, you might have noticed that soldier who has about one line of dialogue was played by Matthew Fox , who was thought to have been dropped from the film. In the original version of the film, Fox's parajumper character calls Gerry back after Karin hangs up on him, and basically tells him to move on with his life. Gerry refuses and takes his phone and friends and sets off to find Karin. In this draft, World War Z ends with him and his rag tag crew washing up on the Oregon Coast, his journey to reconnect with Karin still not complete.
Like we said, no one knows how much of this ending actually went into production, but this behind-the-scenes shot of Pitt and Daniella Kertesz (Segen) on an icy boat suggests that Gerry's nautical passage back to America was shot. It'll be interesting to see how much of this aborted final act makes it onto the movie's Blu-ray and DVD extras. Something tells me Plan B will be less than forthcoming with this footage.
Which ending of World War Z would you have preferred?