Monday, 11 June 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #915: This Is Not A Good Sign...

Zombies, those shuffling, moaning, flesh munching and no doubt malodorous undead are big business these days. AMC's The Walking Dead is a big hit, and just about everyone and his brother is making zombie movies, including movie star Brad Pitt and Paramount Pictures.

Brad Pitt's Plan B Productions and Paramount are currently making a film adaptation of Max Brook's zombie novel World War Z

They shouldn't be still making World War Z: The Movie, in fact, they wrapped production months ago. But Paramount has sent everyone back to work for seven weeks of re-shoots and have hired Lost/Prometheus scribe Damon Lindelof to rewrite a good chunk, if not all of the script.

That is never a good sign.

Rewrites happen during production, they're inevitable. Sometimes dialogue, or action just don't work when the cameras are rolling, or the star wants to come across more heroic, or the studio president's nephew needs a credit so he can get WGA membership. There are literally a million reasons for rewrites to happen.

However, when rewrites are called months after the shooting has wrapped can only have one reason.

The movie is coming out like total shit.

World War Z Production still of Brad Pitt in the starring role.
Not only that, but all the people involved in the movie: producers, studio executives, star, director and the half dozen writers who worked on the script before and during the shooting didn't see that, at least not until after spending $125+ million.


How the hell did this happen?  The film is based on a best-selling book and minor pop culture phenom by Max Brooks, that captures current fears about disease, irrationally destructive forces, as well as recent face eating incidents, and should have been an easy home run.

Now for those of you living in caves, World War Z, was a novel spun-off by Max Brooks after the success of his how-to book The Zombie Survival Guide.

It was written in the form of a oral history of a ten year long conflict between the living and the undead, where survivors tell their stories of traumas and triumphs.

Now this is where I think Paramount and Plan B and all the others involved may have screwed the pooch. 

You see the original novel is not one big story that you can center a film around, but a bunch of smaller stories from all over the world. The only character who goes through all these stories is the interviewer, but he's not the "star" per se, just the collector of the various stories. He doesn't solve the zombie problem, or save the world, he's just the guy putting all the stories together.

A studio is not going to spend $125 million on a feature film, hoping to make it a trilogy, with a highly paid star/producer like Brad Pitt.

This puts the studio into a quandary, how do they make what is an ensemble story that's scattered all over the world, and turn it into a one-man heroic-lead star vehicle. I think this quandary is the main reason why they need to rewrite at least 1/3 of the movie when they're supposed to be laying down the last of the soundtrack and putting together the trailers.

Now that quandary should have been settled during the script development process, but this is the age of $100+ million blockbusters going into production without a finished first draft, and I don't really expect much, unless Lindelof & Co. perform a miracle.


  1. Rainforest Giant here,

    What about the Game of Thrones Bush head deal? It was rumored the reason Martin had trouble finishing the books was because the whole thing had been started as a commentary on the evil Bush jr and as Bush wound down so did Martin's venom that fueled it.

    Everyone is entitled to their peaceful politics and the stories were fun so I didn't care. This makes me wonder if the hate simply taints everything. Imagine it was an Obama head. I think everyone would be screaming racist when they weren't measuring the people involved for a noose.

    So was it simple Hollywood hate or did a Martin's hate for bush play a part?

  2. Well, I don't think they intended to have G.W. Bush's head on that pike as a political statement. A production as large, expensive, and spread out as Game of Thrones is a shockingly buckshee operation. They ask the European props house for heads, one of them turns out to be an effigy of Bush, they use it, with those who knew what it was thinking it's all just a big joke that everyone going to have a giggle over. That's because they honestly don't realize that they live in a tiny bubble of people who all think and vote the same way, and that the people in this bubble have an egregious double standard when it comes to presenting politicians in effigy.

    As for GRRM, he started the book series when Bush jr. was just a glint in the political milkman's eye, and the first book alone took him almost 7 years to write so I can't really believe the whole series was motivated by political animus. GRRM is now 20+ years older than he was when he started the series, and took long breaks to write other books and stuff while working on it, and his health isn't as good as it used to be. That's probably why he's taking such a long time to wrap it all up with the last two books.

    Personally, he should end it by having the final page show Catelyn Stark waking up and finding Eddard Stark in the shower, revealing that it was ALL A DREAM!