Max Brooks, son of the legendary Mel Brooks, had been a comedy writer on SNL before his book World War Z about a zombie apocalypse war became a huge bestseller.In 2007 that book sparked a bidding war between Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. Brad Pitt won and the full movie was set up at Paramount Pictures. At the time it was thought that this was a movie fast tracked for production.
But it hasn’t turned out that way. The movie has gone online through extensive development (which is Hollywood speak for many re-writes and behind the scenes creative differences), but as Max Brooks has recently announced in an interview with SciFi, the movie is far from dead. Paramount has recently renewed the option for double what was originally paid. Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, The Kite Runner) is still attached to direct, and a new draft of the screenplay is soon to be delivered by Matt Carnahan (The Kingdom, Lions for Lambs).
Brooks explains that the root of the problem is that World War Z just isn’t a cheap book to adapt to film. It’s quite literally a zombie war on the scale of World War 2. Which makes you wonder why Paramount opted to finance this production in the first place.
Paramount as a studio is notoriously cheap and want to make everything for free. They spent years developing John Carter of Mars, had a whole Lord of the Rings scale to it. Got the price tag and fainted. Pixar picked up the rights and will be releasing their movie online free of it in the next couple of years. However, in fairness to Paramount, this particular production was hit early on by a notorious incident in which original screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski’s draft was leaked onto online.
Will we ever watch this movie? Personally I hope so. There are a few zombie films heading our way soon. Survival of the Dead, Pride and Prejudice And Zombies and Resident Evil: Afterlife. But none of them on the scale of World War Z. The Audiobook version was like Orson Well’s infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast. So the potential here is huge.