Looks like World War Z was in more trouble than we thought. A few days ago we found out that zombie apocalypse film was undergoing an intensive re-shoot period due to some dissatisfaction with what was shot during principal photography. Now it seems that the producers and director Marc Foster are intent on getting the film up to snuff by hiring a new writer to do some work on the script.
Damon Lindelof, fresh off writing Prometheus and best known as show runner on ABC’s Lost, is being brought in to do rewrites on World War Z. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lindelof will be focusing on the film’s third act, where I presume he’ll try honing the balance between drama and thrills in the action climax.
The film is based on the novel by Max Brooks, which is written in the style of a zombie survival guide and would be a difficult nut to crack for any screenwriter. The original scribe was Matthew Michael Carnahan, who also adapted the BBC series State of Play for the big screen in 2009; that film did a reasonable job of condensing 6 hours of material into 2, so he has solid credentials for the job.
My feeling is that the problem may be with Marc Foster, who has established himself as a reasonably deft handler of drama but not of action. He directed Quantum of Solace, which had a problematic screenplay to begin with but wasn’t helped by incomprehensible direction of not only action but story, making a cloudy script positively foggy.
And given the lengths they are going to on this – 7 weeks of reshoots and hiring an A-list writer like Lindelof – the problem seems pretty bad. Although not bad enough to replace the director. However, if they have replaced him, I would imagine news of that would be kept reasonably quiet; a Hollywood studio silently replacing a director for reshoots is not without precedence.
Lindelof seems to me to be a legitimate replacement; I thought his script for Prometheus was really excellent considering how much pressure was on him to deliver a great film. If he gets it right again here he could be instrumental in turning the mess of World War Z into a decent, entertaining, and original zombie movie.
Reshoots are set to take place in September through to October leaving little time for Lindelof to really get things up to scratch. As a result, World War Z will debut on June 21st, 2013.
P.S. - I can already hear people cracking wise about Lindelof, satisfying third acts, and Lost, but please, get over it.