Last week, it was reported that Paramount might be in a bit of a bind with their upcoming adaptation of World War Z. The studio’s interest in the project has remained steadfast since they acquired the screen rights to Max Brooks’ post-apocalyptic horror novel back in 2006 – but the film’s projected $125 million price tag is evidently a burden that they can no longer bear on their own.
Paramount revealed that they might be forced to pull the plug on World War Z if they failed to lock down additional financing for the production. Fortunately, it looks like comparisons to the recent At The Mountains of Madness debacle can be put to rest. Even with its intimidating budget, World War Z probably remains a very attractive business proposition.
It has Brad Pitt – one of the biggest movie stars in the world – attached to star (his production company Plan B is also producing) and director Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace) ready to call the shots. It also has a script that’s been generating extremely positive buzz within the industry for several years – and the added allure of a demographic-pleasing PG-13 rating. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Paramount has already found several financiers who might be ready to step in and save the day.
According to Deadline, the studio is currently having serious discussions with David Ellison’s Skydance Productions and two other unnamed investors. Skydance previously partnered with Paramount to co-finance True Grit and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. If all goes well, World War Z could finally go before cameras as early as June.
Deadline mentions that because of the film’s many delays, there is now a considerable amount of similarly-themed competition hitting the big screen over the next few years – including Warm Bodies, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Kitchen Sink, Resident Evil 5, as well as the oft-rumored follow-up to Zombieland, and another 28 Days Later sequel (and that’s just naming a few).
Will the over-saturation of zombies in pop-culture leave audiences disinterested in World War Z by the time it rolls around? As a huge fan of the book, I really don’t think that the filmmakers have anything to worry about.
The novel features a series of interviews conducted by an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission and, through the individual accounts of the participants, it charts the history of mankind’s war against the undead as well as how civilization was rebuilt in the aftermath. That format might not seem particularly conducive to a film adaptation, but J. Michael Straczynski’s original script was extremely faithful to the book. He kept the structure intact, but chose to make the interviewer (Pitt) World War Z’s main character. Brooks praised Straczynski’s take on the material and admitted that his approach really tied everything together.
I know that many fans don’t like the idea of centering the story around the interviewer, but I have to disagree. I actually really enjoy the idea of focusing on one guy who starts to get a sense of the larger picture by connecting the dots of all these separate stories. I’m sure there are many of you who believe that a series of vignettes would work just as well, or that a faux documentary format would be more appropriate – but in my opinion, that’s just not as interesting thematically.
I think watching how these interviews begin to affect Pitt’s character and his point of view on the war will be just as important to the film as the stories themselves. At one point, Forster compared the film to All The President’s Men and if you’re familiar with that movie (or the non-fiction book it was based on), I think you might be able to see the potential in presenting World War Z in that context.
I don’t find the PG-13 rating to be quite as encouraging, but if The Walking Dead can push the limits of what’s acceptable on television – perhaps World War Z will still be able to surprise us as well.