A Look Into The Troubled Production Of World War Z

We had heard that the big-budget adaptation of Max Brooks’s zombie novel World War Z was in trouble with the recent rewrite, reshoots, and release date change, but apparently there’s a lot more to the story.

The Hollywood Reporter recently heard a number of details from a source close to the production about the extensive problems that have plagued the film, chief among them being the director, Marc Forster. Forster, who was Brad Pitt’s choice to direct, had apparently had trouble from the start with major decisions being left unmade such as how the zombies wold look and move.

You may recall Forster’s name from such films as Monster’s Ball, Stranger Than Fiction, and Finding Neverland. However, he also attempted the action genre with the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, where his inexperience clearly showed in the poorly-shot action sequences.  It’s being said that he was chosen so that he could bring some focus onto the story and characters while a strong crew could help him out in the action area. Perhaps they missed Quantum of Solace, because it didn’t exactly have a focus on the story or characters.

Other problems include the hiring and replacing of crew such as line producer Colin Wilson and effects artist John Nelson. It’s said that three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson even tried to leave the production more than once and attempted to keep order during the shoot.

On top of all that, scheduling was getting in the way. While World War Z was being prepped, Pitt and his producing partner, Dede Gardner, were busy with Killing Me Softly, which recently screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Afterward, Pitt spent time with his family. By the time Gardner finally began focusing on World War Z, it was already having problems.

Adapting Max Brooks’s book has sounded like a strange project from the start. The book is a collection of anecdotes from survivors of the war, making it seem like it would be hard to adapt into a coherent film. With the news of Damon Lindelof being brought on to rework the third act, in addition to major reshoots, apparently they are finding the task harder than they thought.

Lindelof is a rather divisive writer. I really enjoyed his work on Lost, but didn’t care much for Cowboys & Aliens. There are even those who say that he single-handedly ruined Prometheus. It will be interesting to see whether or not he can fix up World War Z and turn it into something enjoyable.

Another source for the film has high hopes for it, saying that “It’s a great first 45 minutes, maybe even an hour.” I guess we’ll just have to wait for its new release date of June 21, 2013 to find out if everything comes together.

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