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Marc Forster’s upcoming adaptation of World War Z is going to be one of those films we end up talking about for the next few years … even though – much like the movie – the ending has yet to be scripted. If the movie’s a massive success, then we’ll be marveling at how Brad Pitt, Forster and a team of experts salvaged what was shaping up to be a disaster. If the movie falls flat on its zombie face, we’ll be dissecting where a global horror thriller went wrong, allowing a budget to balloon and working without a script when you have one of the world’s biggest stars at your disposal.
If you have been tracking World War Z, you know that production on the film was rocky. Pitt plays a U.N. representative helping respond to the outbreak of a pandemic that’s turning our planet’s population into zombies. But the news from the set centered around rewrites by Damon Lindelof, the need for reshoots, production problems, additional reshoots and more.
Very little of this matters to the audience if the corrections lead to a better film, and we’ll know that for sure once World War Z finally opens on June 21. But already, those who helped put Humpty Dumpty back together again are going on record to say what they did (or didn’t do) to help the film succeed.
In the cover story for the June issue of Vanity Fair, Lindelof explains to the magazine how Pitt brought him in after production had been well under way, saying they had an abrupt and incoherent ending that didn’t make sense.
“I said to them, There are two roads to go down here,” Lindelof said. “Is there material that can be written to make that stuff work better? To have it make sense? To have it have emotional stakes? And plot logic and all that? And Road Two, which I think is the long-shot road, is that everything changes after Brad[’s character] leaves Israel.”This meant dumping a lengthy battle scene set in Russia, and reshooting a lot of footage to come up with an ending that made sense. Also speaking to the magazine, Marc Evans, president of production at Paramount, recalls the silence that met the first screening of Forster’s initial War Z cut, saying, “It was, like, Wow. The ending of our movie doesn’t work. I believed in that moment we needed to reshoot the movie.”
It’s rare to have people involved with the movie talking openly about production problems before the film reaches theaters. Perhaps it’s because they are confident that the finished product survived the problems? And now they’re saying, “Look, we went through hell, but it was the right call, because the movie is better.” I hope that’s the case. Pitt will carry World War Z across the finish line in June. We’ll see if all the effort in production paid off.