For a tentpole film based on a wildly popular book and starring an actor like Brad Pitt, you’d think the road from page to screen would be a smooth one for World War Z, but that hasn’t been the case. The film reportedly needs five weeks of reshoots, a new ending written by Damon Lindelof and about another year of work before release. So, what went wrong with the production? Well, The Hollywood Reporter went into detail about the film’s many problems.
First and foremost, the project never seemed to reach a cohesive vision. Pitt brought in director Marc Forster, whose only action experience has been Quantum of Solace. Not well versed in big-budget horror and the special effects that go into bringing that kind of story to life, Forster seems to have been at a disadvantage. “The director was not empowered,” an insider told the website. “There was nobody that steered the ship. When you get [a director] who can’t do it all … you get a struggle as to whose is the singular voice.”
Adding to the problems, Forster wasn’t able to bring in the crew he always works with, which caused a lot of friction. This led to a lack of decision-making early on. For instance, the piece says the look and style of the zombies hadn’t been figured out three weeks before filming started. “There was a lot of spinning of plates, a lot of talking. [But] they did not have a plan,” a source said.
The lack of vision and escalating budget led to lots of people abandoning the film and others getting replaced, adding more instability to a highly unstable project. But how did it get to that point? Pitt and his production partner Dede Gardner were busy first with a film called Killing Them Softly, and then Pitt wanted to spend some time with his family. By the time they checked in, things were already pretty far down the hole.
As if all the creative problems didn’t hurt the production enough, filming was interrupted in Budapest, Hungary, when 85 semiautomatic machine guns for the film’s action scenes were seized. It turned out that they were not supposed to be functioning, but someone messed up and they were, which is a crime in that country.
Even with so many problems, though, insiders say the film still has a hope. They say the first 45 minutes to an hour are really great and look gorgeous. With an ending written by Lindelof, it’s not beyond reason to think that the problems will get fixed and Paramount will wind up with a hit on their hands. The studio will need one because it’s already moved G.I. Joe: Retaliation.