Getting World War Z from book to screen was a drama on its own. Both Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Leonardo Di Caprio’s Appian Way were interested in Max Brook’s property World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Plan B as we all know now, won the bid.
From there, however, the film had to go through big script changes. It started out with Michael J. Straczynski (Babylon 5), moved to Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom, Lions for Lambs) and finally Damon Lindelof (Lost). The movie also had to go through an expensive reshoot of the entire ending. As a result, the original release date of December 21, 2012 had to be pushed six months. The movie went way over its budget of $150 million. According to the June 2013 issue of Vanity Fair, “The movie will have to take in around $400 million at the world wide box office to break even.”
The pressure is on. A few people noted it wasn’t all that bloody considering it was a zombie film—but the studio had to go for a PG rating. Also, in the book, the outbreak starts in China. No mention of that in the film—possibly because China is a big market?
I went to see it Thursday night—not because I had read the book and was curious to see how they translated it, but more to see how it held up after all the drama and delay.
World War Z, for all its troubled past, negative buzz and for its deviation from the source material was quite good. For one, Brad Pitt’s character, former UN troubleshooter Gerry Lane is in many ways, an “everyman.” I’m grateful they did not turn him super human, and I’m grateful it did not turn into Rambo vs. The Zombies. Lane did not suddenly turn into Rambo, he did not turn into James Bond, nor did he turn into the The Terminator or some super athlete. In one scene in the movie, he gets hurt and for the remainder of the film, he behaves and walks the way we all would if we had that injury.
Also, despite the absence of pools and pools of blood and gore, I thought the filmmakers were successful in building up enough suspense and making the zombies scary by giving them the ability to run and move even faster than the 28 Days Later zombies. They also have a knack for climbing and shattering windows.
It’s not epic, or grand like a blockbuster superhero film, but it holds up. I went home making jokes about the clacking sound of zombie teeth in the film as my friends and I tried to mimic the movement of zombie teeth. But I am sure Paramount Studios execs went home nervously to await the numbers for this one.
World War Z opened on June 19. The movie is a Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions presentation directed by Marc Forster. It is distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corp.