Behind the scenes problems with World War Z exposed

News Simon Brew 1 May 2013 - 06:32

A candid piece at Vanity Fair lifts the lid on the issues that have faced the World War Z movie...

Well, this never happens. It's little secret that the movie take on Max Brooks' World War Z hasn't had the easiest journey to the screen. There have been high profile reshoots, stories of a whole new ending being written, and a lengthy release delay. Furthermore, there's a promotional campaign that seems to be forgetting that zombies are a major part of the movie.

And now? A piece in Vanity Fair has shone a light on just how tricky things have been behind the scenes. It's rare to have this exposed in advance of a movie's release, but nontheless it suggests there have been very sizeable problems.

Quoting Damon Lindelof, the piece recalls Brad Pitt explaining that "we started shooting the thing before we locked down how it was going to end up, and it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to". Lindelof was asked to watch an edit "and tell us how to get where we need to get".

The original cut that Lindelof saw featured an ending that was "abrupt and incoherent" and was "missing a large chunk of footage".

The article talks about cost overruns and such like, but also touches on what happened when the first director's cut was screened, and everyone realised that they were in trouble. Hence, Lindelof got the call, and he presented two options: rewriting bits of material, or "throwing out the entire Russian battle scene - or about 12 minutes of footage - and crafting a new ending".

To his surprise, they picked the latter, resulting in World War Z needing another 30 to 40 minutes of  material to be filmed.

World War Z has, of course, been rated PG-13 in the US, leaving Paramount with a $200m zombie movie that may, on paper, have isolated both the mass audience, and the core fans of both zombies and Brooks' book. Or, it may just have pulled this one round. World War Z is a film we're as intrigued as any to watch this summer, and it should be said that films with troubled productions have turned out well in the past.

That said, the Vanity Fair report is usually the kind of thing that doesn't slip out until a year after release, not two months beforehand. You can read more on it all right here.

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I haven't read WWZ, so this might not apply, but usually when you are basing a movie on a book the ending isn't a question. That is a very, very bad sign that they had no idea how it was going to end. People who are worried that the movie isn't going to be like the book seem to be getting more evidence that they are right.

well put it this way, there should be a hell of a lot of extras on the DVD/Blu-ray LOL Having read the book I hope they haven't messed this up but looking at the trailers it feels like its gone off at a tangent. As for the Usain Bolt speed zombies well er....

The book was just a load of interviews from survivors about before during and after. Very well written and came across on paper fantastically well but as most who read it will tell you there's not really an ending to it as such the interviews could keep going and that's why it was referred to as brilliant but unfilmable .

Oh FFS.............. seriously can we lobby for them to rename this film as it really is not World War Z now is it. It could say 'very loosely based on the very excellent book ...... actually forget watching this and go buy the book now' at the beginning of the film.

It might actually be a half-decent film, but it still cannot be considered anything to do with the book, not by this point.

Ahh Lindelof has learned from his Prometheus experience and got his excuses in first. But seriously, how do you improve a war film by TAKING out battle scenes? lets hope its for lots more scenes of "..I love you dad.. "

The book takes place AFTER the Zombie War, this looks like they've decided to try and set the movie during the war yet ignoring most of the source material if not all of it (obviously I can only say that with regards to the Zombies themselves). But I do agree that while in a movies production there is some diversions from source materials but these should only EVER be for practicality reasons and not like what we had with IM3 recently (no spoilers coming) a personaly opinion based on the director (aka: they dont personally like something about the source material).

Except it was came to Band of Brothers that seemed to be completely filmable.

Definitive proof I think that Marc Forster was the problem with Quantum of Solace

as others have said. How can you not know your ending when the film is already a cracking book?

God forbid they ever try to do a Y: The Last Man. 'How should this one end, guys?' :D

Hope the zombies arent CGI! Oh, wait..... :(

The exec producer is the boss, who says ultimately what they can and can't do.


Implying that there was only one problem with QoS...

You know you're screwed when Lindelof is called in to help make things make more sense.

It'll now all turn out to be a dream or Christ will rise up on a mechanical cross that turns into a helicopter or something equally as daft.

Maybe they hired him as a scapegoat.

Actually most of the problems can be linked back to him:
It was his choice to shoot the handheld-esque fight sequences (because he wanted to go even further with the Bourne vibe.)
He brought in his own ghost-writer to re-write/ cut out sections of the script because he wanted the film to be fast paced and feature constant action (resulting in most of the plot disappearing from the film)
It was his request that the Bond theme be kept to a minimum in the film (citing Indy IV as an example of tension in a film being broken the moment an iconic theme is played.)
And it was his choice to not have 'Bond, James Bond' in the film and to place the gunbarrel at the end of the film.

So if he wasn't the director there is a good chance the script could have felt more like an actual story and less like a series of stunts, the fight scenes would have actually been watchable and the theme, line and gunbarrel would have meant it would have felt more like a Bond film and less like a generic action movie!

The Strawbear is wise.

He's getting good at taking the blame for disappointing films. Most of it well-deserved too. Perhaps there's a career for him: stunt writer. He takes the abuse while the real writer gets away unscathed. Hmmm....

Perhaps they just read the back cover.

I just don't agree with the sentiment that WWZ the book is 'unfilmable'. Tricky to pull off - yeah, and it would have required a lot of adapting, but a talented production team COULD have done it justice, whether as a full-on mockumentary or a kind of portmanteau/ensemble movie like Contagion. It definitely should never been mounted as a $200m star vehicle summer blockbuster - with all the artistic compromises that come with that. It should have either been done as a TV miniseries or a mid-budget ($50-70m) movie with an unknown cast.

There definitely IS an ending *spoilers*

Humanity wins a fragile victory over the undead, but at enormous cost, and only once every aspect of society has been turned on it's head - often with delicious irony.

I'm willing to bet the studio executives involve in this have never even SEEN the book, nevermind reading any of it...

Seriously? They called him in to make changes? Cause that worked SOOOO well for Prometheus right?

Did you see the script before Lindelof took over? It was a mess. All the elements that Lindelof added are probably exactly what you liked about the finished movie - abomination that it was. And to add an element of balance to the Forster attack over QoS - I'm sorry, I can't really. It's still better than any of the Moore or Brosnan entries though.

I think the fact they weren't sure what the ending was going to be is further evidence that they intend WWZ to be part of a series not a stand alone movie.

Not everything needs to be a movie. Comics are still a unique medium in and of themselves - work does not need validation from Hollywood in order to be stamped "worthy" - often the opposite. Preacher is all the better for never having had a TV or film treatment and Y will be the same way.

Unless DoG and practically every other review site I'm interested in raves about this I'm giving this a miss. It's not World War Z. It's a crappy looking paint-by-numbers CGI zombie flick.

This is the perfect tagline for the movie:
"It's a crappy looking paint-by-numbers CGI zombie flick."

He could get his own TV show. We'll call it The Fall Guy.

I agree with Tom and Laphtiya that World War Z is totally filmable. See it as a mockumentary. In 1989, there was a German mockumentary on World War 3 called Der Dritte Weltkrieg. It was a good take on how a third world war would unfold with out of context interviews by politicians. And I believe that we would have a film that would even surpass the book if they had just filmed the performances of the actors for the audio book. Look at the list of talents: Carl Reiner, Mark Hamill, Jürgen Prochnow and John Turturro, just to name a few. Exceptional performances.
World War Z is not about the action, it's the emotions. Throw in a couple of flashbacks and you're done. It's not a simple task but it's not impossible.

Yes and no really. The producer's have the bigger say as they are part of the studio. Executives get a voice as well as they are chipping in a chunk of the budget. Basically it's a "too many cooks" syndrome. Just look at Prometheus.

"The original cut that Lindelof saw featured an ending that was "abrupt
and incoherent" and was "missing a large chunk of footage"."(???)

So he basically said "We need it MORE incoherent with stupid-ass characters who don't know how to handle themselves in a zombie apocalypse and cut our more footage to make it run smoother and let the audience fill in the missing gaps for themselves. Because I'm a deep writer."

Confirmed tosser. This film will be poo.

Still nervous that the rating suggests the usual cash in at the theatre and then release a harder cut on DVD to get the fans to pay twice.

Lindelof advising on a script and ending? Surely some cruel joke..

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