‘World War Z’ Original Ending Revealed; Sequel to Begin Development

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World War Z Pitt Scarf World War Z Original Ending Revealed; Sequel to Begin Development


For the past year, Paramount’s World War Z seemed like a real-life disaster in the making, between un-encouraging departures from the source novel and the six month release day delay to allow for a complete overhaul of the third act (courtesy of co-writers Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard). As a result, the final movie is a passable thriller but – to quote Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick in his World War Z review“a disjointed narrative experience that presents absorbing information up front and then slides into thoughtless blockbuster fare.”

Nonetheless, the global apocalypse blockbuster has managed to open worldwide with a $112 million gross (that includes $66 million in the U.S.), thanks in part to star Brad Pitt’s unrelenting commitment to selling audiences on the PG-13 zombie-thriller. Hence, Paramount will begin development on a sequel to its $190 million investment, as studio vice chairman Rob Moore confirmed to THR.

World War Z was originally envisioned as the beginning of a movie trilogy, and the finished version still leaves the door open for additional installments (ending with Pitt’s warning, via voice-over, that the titular war “has just begun”). The film’s original third act involved a massive zombie battle in Moscow during the winter, which lies in stark contrast to the to the final cut’s low-key climax – set in a World Health Organization building that has been partly overtaken by zombies.

Interestingly, the original third act began on a calmer note, and did not include the plane crash sequence – a major selling point in the World War Z marketing – that leaves protagonist Gerry Lane (Pitt) and his newly-acquired “sidekick” Segen (Daniella Kertesz) badly-injured and stranded a ways from civilization.

Brad Pitt Daniella Kertesz World War Z World War Z Original Ending Revealed; Sequel to Begin Development

Brad Pitt and Daniella Kertesz in ‘World War Z’

Things took a darker and far less hopeful turn for our heroes, though, according to Movies.com in the site’s breakdown of the film’s original conclusion:

The plane Gerry and Segen board is bound for Moscow. Upon safely landing, everyone on board is rounded up by the military. The elderly and the sick are executed and the healthy people, including a very shaken Gerry, are immediately drafted into armed service, though not before one particularly nasty Russian soldier takes Gerry’s cell phone. The story then jumps forward an unknown amount of time and we catch up with Gerry, who now has a full beard and has been a part of Russia’s zombie-clearing squad at least long enough for it to have changed to winter.

From there, Gerry eventually realizes that the zombies cannot handle Moscow’s cold weather – after he notices how much slower they move in comparison to the swarming hordes he encountered in Jerusalem – and this proves to be the key to gaining the upper hand in the battle. Soon thereafter, Gerry recovers his cell phone and attempts to reach his wife, Karin (Mireille Enos).

Gerry reaches Karin. He explains to her that the cold is the way they’ll win battles, which does her no good because it just so happens she and the kids are in a refugee camp in the sweltering heat of the Everglades. They’re in the type of camp where you have to have something to trade to survive, and it just so happens the one thing Karin had to trade was herself. She doesn’t explicitly tell Gerry this, but after she hastily hangs up the phone we see that she’s in some kind of reluctantly consensual relationship with the soldier who rescued them from the rooftop at the beginning of the movie.

Those who were paying close-attention during that rooftop rescue sequence (in the final cut), may recall that the nameless “Parajumper” in question was played by Lost alum Matthew Fox. So, if you saw the movie – and were left scratching your head about why the recognizable actor had been cast for what amounts to a single shot cameo – well, now you have your answer.

world war z trailer brad pitt1 World War Z Original Ending Revealed; Sequel to Begin Development

Gerry Lane (Pitt) and his family in ‘World War Z’

Lastly, World War Z was (at one point) supposed to wrap things up with Gerry, Segen and Simon – an English-speaking companion the two acquired in Moscow – trekking across Russia and making their way towards the U.S. shoreline, in a last-ditch effort to rescue Gerry’s wife and daughters:

Fox’ parajumper soldier then calls Gerry back and explains to him that he should just stay wherever he is and start a new life like he and Karin have. Gerry refuses to accept this, though, and he embarks on a rage mission to get back to his wife and daughters. Trouble is the nearest port that won’t be frozen is thousands of miles away, so there’s a montage of Gerry, Simon and Segen crossing various terrain until they ultimately end up on a boat. They’re now off of the Oregon Coast and they attack the American shore like it’s D-Day. And that’s how the movie ends. Not with Gerry having discovered a cure, but with him storming across the United States of America to get Karin back.

It’s possible that only certain portions of this extremely open-ended – and, tonally, far more bleak – original third act were actually shot by World War Z director Marc Forster. Regardless, whatever material did make the jump from script to movie form was messy enough to convince the people working on the project to recruit a couple of high-profile screenwriters to help salvage the whole thing.

There’s an argument to be made that the originally-planned direction would have allowed the film to paint a harsher and, in some ways, perhaps a more brutally-realistic portrayal of how social order breaks down during the zombie apocalypse – by showing the terrible effect it has on regular people like Gerry and his family. Still, it’s difficult to imagine that Paramount executives would’ve actually signed off on this ending (for a $200 million summer popcorn flick no less).

Which World War Z ending do you prefer – the original or the final version? Are you interested in seeing a sequel? Let us know in the comments section.


World War Z is now playing in theaters.

Source: Movies.com, THR

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
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  1. The original ending would have been intriguing but there is no way the studio would have gone it.

    • I agree that it would not have been done. Plus, though I agree it would have been interesting, as written it seems to take the focus away from Zombies. It’s more Pitt going for revenge and oh by the way there might be a zombie horde in a scene or two.

    • There is just one think I would have loved. Fact is, the zombie virus has gone all around the world. So I miss a few more scenes to see what happens around. So you come to see what happens in Boston and Israel… and very little more. One day in the morning it’s just something you see on TV and hours later it has gone out of control? No way. Too damned fast.

  2. I liked the movie but felt it lack a punch since there is almost no Zombie on Human violence on screen. I think I would have preferd the original version better.

  3. Wait? What? The original ending was supposed to be a retread of the first two seasons of “Walking Dead?” Leave that for the small screen (and graphic novels) where the “soap-opera-ish” elements work so much better. The ending in the final edit was much better than that. In fact, WWZ is surprisingly good, far more than I expected. I was surprised by how it added to the zombie canon, with “only” a PG-13 rating.

  4. Think I prefer the original ending. Having said that, the movie left me wanting more, so I’m ready for Part II. Here’s hoping the Blue-Ray/DVD has an unedited version. I would love to see Brad wrestling to free his crow bar from that zeek’s skull in all it’s gory beauty (lol).


  5. Who the hell greenlit that first script? Jebus. So weird. Well they payed for it, litterally, by having to scramble and just dump a ton a money into reshooting the third act. Seriously though, when dealing with projects as risky and as expensive as this one, you would think they’d have the script locked down from the start like its the bible. Ah well what do I know.

  6. Ok, so once again I have to admit that I was wrong.
    I’m on record here saying over and over that,
    1. WWZ would bomb
    2. WWZ would be god awful bad.
    Granted the reviews are mixed but I’ll still admit I was wrong.
    Going on…
    Yeah, the 1st ending was bleak and didn’t sound like your typical summer blockbuster but like someone else said it also seemed very similar to The Walking Dead which would have lead to a lot of backlash IMO. So while it may have made for a more dramatic and thought provoking ending I can now better understand why it was changed.

  7. They picked the right ending for the movie in my opinion. Not all movies should end with a bang. Those who feel the ending was a bit tame are the ones who are used to bang-bang movie endings such as those in Man of Steel and Iron Man 3, which I honestly did not enjoy as much. Too much violence and destruction does not always make a movie great. This ending still gives them directions they can take the sequel if they want to make one.

    • Not to be mean but almost every super hero movie ends with a bang.

  8. A sequel, but moreover a franchise, demands a Hollywood ending.

    Cooler heads smartly prevailed among Paramount executives in rightly spending the millions necessarily to alter the 3rd Act and complete the production, eticed entirely by economic benefit for the studio on behalf of its investors. The producers wisely changed Brad Pitt’s socio-political commentary (more in line with Brook’s novel) to inform an open-ended conclusion far more (fiscally) feasible.

    Without a return on the investment, the sequel (ergo that presage uttered by Pitt near the end of the movie) would never have happened.

  9. Fantastic!

    Looking forward to the sequel very much.

    I had a feeling it would do well.

  10. I caught WWZ over the weekend and loved it. Reading the original ending makes me happy they changed it. It was a gamble and it paid off!

  11. Well that explains the Matthew Fox thing.. Poor guy cant catch a break, Alex Cross sucked and now he got cut out of his only summer blockbuster haha

  12. Do we get a glimpse of what they did shoot for the original ending in the ending that’s in the movie now? As the voice over narration is ending the movie you get a few shots of a huge battle in Russia. When it flashed across the screen it seemed a little odd that such a big set/scene was filmed just so it could be on screen just a few moments…

  13. I would have liked the original ending. I feel the ending in the film was more suited to the overall film and stayed focus on the plot. This alternate original ending would have suffered – IMO – from the same thing 28 Days Later suffered from – which was the plot completely changing on a dime.

    • Yeah, we had to remove just about every unofficial and amateur set photo from the site a while ago (for legal reasons).

      I’d imagine those photos are still online elsewhere, though.

  14. The original ending directed the focus away from the zombie plague. It would have meant that they should not have saved him and his family at all because he failed to find anything useful. That ending also would have nullified all his observations throughout his travels finding information. I believe that the correct ending was chosen overall to add credence to every thing observed similar to how the book is in retelling experience’s people had.

  15. Release the original cut on the Blu-Ray with the Theatrical release. It does sound pretty dark, though. Not a fan of the voice-over, and the injection of what seemed to be old footage during the montage. That said, it’s still one of the best movies released so far this year. Bring on the sequels !!!

  16. the whole movie was weak & the ending was disneyfied

  17. The original ending might sound more interesting on paper but since so many problems surfaced and millions of dollars were spent to create something entirely different, I’m gonna guess that it didn’t work on film at all. The new ending was small and low key and I didn’t have a problem with that.

    Very interested to see where they’ll go with the sequel though!

  18. I will be watching this flick on Netflix.

    • I dont know,
      the argument that this was better then a bunch of other terrible zombie movies over the last 10 years sounds like saying someone is a nicer guy then Hitler.

      • True, but (coming from someone who’s seen far more zombie movies than is necessary) I felt like WWZ had a sense of realism to it. It seemed more human (if you pardon the pun) than, like, the Resident Evil flicks.

  19. Both endings described above are equally Not Good. I can – and did – accept that this movie would be, at best, a loose semi-prequel to the book, World War Z. When talk of a trilogy started, I wanted to believe that the first two movies would all-out zombie war and the trilogy would end with a film that was Very Tight to the book. J. Michael Straczynski’s revised 1st script was good. None of my problems with what I saw in the theatre tonight have to do with Brad Pitt’s performance or Mark Forster’s directing or even a change in the material so radical that a tough-girl-soldier was added and the quiet subtext of family was removed…OR running zombies. No, I did not care for the movie but when I asked others leaving the theatre if they liked it, they said ‘yes’ and when I asked if they’d read the book, each person I spoke with said, ‘no’ and by the time I got to the parking lot…I felt a sense of loss. Something that I could not immediately identify was now gone. A void now hung where before there was something that made a difference. It looked to me that everybody worked very hard and I liked the “most people don’t believe something can happen until it already has..” bit being word for word…even the zombie getting locked in the freezer suggested to me that we would soon learn that zombies freeze, paving the way for the storyline about the camp, the food running out, people eventually going cannibal…but I do not believe I will have any interest in seeing the sequel to this. I have no doubt that I will but I am pretty sure that I will not have much excitement. Part of the reason I went tonight was that, if I was going to scowl and grumble about the thing, I better actually see it so I’m not just talking trash ‘about another adaptation that failed’ with no evidence. What happened drained me of making any arguments in defense or against it. I am out $18.00 and roughly two hours…but the variable which plagues me deepest is that I had passion walking in…and now I feel like a child who has just come to terms with the fact that one day, a girl will break his heart into a billion pieces. There is risk in everything worth anything and sometimes investments do not pay off. Whatever was wrong here was certainly there onscreen in 3D but whatever it was or was not, I feel violated. I put trust into an idea…and I don’t regret it but I am, on some level, in some intrinsic way, less optimistic about all the things that can and can not happen. If I had not seen it tonight, it would still be a movie I did not care for. Wonder may not be a good thing to have faith in – at this moment, I believe this movie is proof that it is pointless to even bother trying to believe in anything, much less try to convince anybody of anything that might lead them to have faith in Anything. Yes, it is just a movie but at the same time, all movies deliver Something to the viewer…this one took something from me. It was not Brad Pitt’s fault or Max Brooks’ fault or Mark Forster’s fault…something this expensive was the result of TEAMS of people agreeing on how to get it done. There’s no single person to blame. It just is what it is and what it is…kind of offended me. Here’s to hoping that a sixth viewing of “Man of Steel” will restore at least Some of what I lost tonight. FOR REAL.

    • woah… you make it sound like you just broke up with your girlfriend or your dog died.

      Ive read the book & I just saw the movie tonight, I like both. :)

      • I can’t say you’re right about my circumstances – but I will say, “If you dig both, that’s cool. Thanks for taking the time to be civil about my semi-childish rant.”
        I do have some personal s*** going on that I (cough) projected onto this…but I still feel the movie is a warm-flat-diet-caffeine-free version of the book. I post so rarely but I felt strongly enough about it to do so – anyway, your response made me rethink it all. So maybe I did take enough from the movie that it was a mutual exchange.
        I felt that “Oblivion” was an anomaly – to me, the script was the star of that piece. A piece of something unseen that boosted my faith/trust in film …
        The best elements of the book were captured in Straczynski’s revised 1st draft of WWZ and it too had a happy ending…I would give it a read. but the ‘get sick to make yourself unappetizing’ was the best of the new concepts presented in the movie. And it was a pretty cool bit when he used the grenade to empty the cabin of zombies-on-crystal-methamphetine-whilst-on-bad-acid-trips.
        I have been wrong before
        Part of me says, “I loved the book so much I would have hated any major changes” but some part of me with a louder PA system says, “one of my top reasons for loving the point of the book was the family concept and that isn’t there anymore.”
        Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of ‘Dawn of the Dead” will probably be my favorite zombie film forever. But yeah
        Just a movie.
        One that disappointed me.
        “Wolverine” and “Elysium” are what I am looking forward to next.
        And I feel fairly optimistic about both.
        Thanks again for being civil in pointing out your disagreement.

        • My comment was the movie has as much in common with the book as a donkey has with the winner of the Kentucky Derby- so I agree with

  20. There were no stakes in the movie so those changes could have strengthened the film. Someone has got to stop Damon being involved in writing.

    Personally I found the ending leaving things wide open for a sequel to be far scarier than the zombies.

    • “Someone has got to stop Damon being involved in writing. ”

      He’s got “friends” in hollywood.

      And as long as they can keep shuffling him between cgi fests that sell for every other aspect then the story they can keep claiming that “his” movies made money.

      Its going to take awhile before hollywood stops foisting abrams and lindelof on the public.

  21. I hate to say this but I think Damon Lindelof did make an improvement. The original ending sounds more like a soap opera with action scenes, with nothing to close out the movie. That said it sounds like the original footage could be recycled to the beginning of the sequel. Something like Pitt goes to russia to help them fight, but they’re too paranoid and committed too many ‘war crimes’ to accept the easy way out by using the camouflage. So Pitt develops the cold technique etc etc.

    A couple of improvements I think the new end needed. The first being that they should have had a real explanation for why people weren’t attacked. Saying they’re terminally sick failed on a number of levels. How would the zombies know, and being sick wouldn’t have prevented them from being adequate hosts for infecting a few more people. Maybe if the people suffered from a desease that caused you to smell, then the zombies were turned off by it…

    On the cold idea, maybe Pitt could have partially frozen a zombie in the research lab. There would have been plenty of liquid nitrogen around. Then the aha moment.

  22. Apparently all you have to do is put zombies, a ton of cgi and a celebrity on the screen these days.

  23. What people don’t seem to get, is when and why there should be a sequel to a movie.
    They just plan to make a movie big and with an open end to keep them coming back for the 2nd and 3rd part.
    Problem is, the quality suffers from this. A whole lot.
    WWZ like Falling Skies and several other examples are just the symptoms of this rectless way of producing.
    WWZ should tell a whole story, written in an amazing book and the desperate try to have an open end to just keep’em coming is one of the worst decisions for those movies with the potential to become great.
    I, personally, didn’t expect anything else from Brad Pitt.
    But forgetting his doings, the movie should have just had a real plot, with a for itself and an end to work up to.
    It got neither.
    It#s just a pity for those who think they created something great out of a really great book.

  24. I enjoyed the movie and when a sequel comes out I’ll check it out…my only gripe with the movie is that it is so obvious where the cut off is between the original plot and the new ending. The last third of the movie is really good but the actual ending of him just riding into Nova Scotia was a little lame. I was hoping to see a bit of the Battle of Yonkers in this film. That part of the book showed how modern armies were woefully unprepared to fight the undead hordes…bombs, body shots, and maiming weapons work great against the living but against the dead they were pretty much ineffective. The Jerusalem scene was the best in the movie.

  25. The CGI was a bit lame also but it didn’t ruin it for me.

  26. The original ending sounds like a horrendous, cynical attempt to set up a sequel and I immediately thought of Signs when it mentioned that the cold was their weakness. I liked the ending, I thought it was brave to go for tension over action.

    • Why would you think of Signs wasn’t water their weakness ?

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