"World War Z" is out in theaters now, meaning audiences can finally see what all the fuss was about.
Originally set for release in December of 2012, Paramount pushed "World War Z" back six months to allow for some extensive reshoots after the film's action-heavy finale was deemed underwhelming by studio executives. From a recent Vanity Fair cover story on the making of "World War Z":
[Director Marc] Forster was ruminating about the afternoon of February 2, 2012, when he first showed Paramount executives his director’s cut of 'World War Z.' It was three months after principal filming had ended, and the studio was anxious to see what it had paid for. After more than two hours, the lights came up. The room was silent. “I was in my own head for a minute,” said [Paramount exec] Marc Evans. “It was, like, Wow. The ending of our movie doesn’t work.” The battle overwhelmed, with [Brad Pitt's character] Gerry Lane lost in a crimson muddle of severed limbs and bodies. “I believed in that moment we needed to reshoot the movie,” he said.
The rest is history: Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard were brought on to construct a new, quieter third act, and Paramount spent a rumored $20 million on the reshoots. (A full look at what changed in "World War Z" can be found here.)
In a new interview with Deadline.com, however, Forster contends that the tone of the new ending was what he always had in mind -- this despite filming and editing together the action-packed denouement.
"The original third act, with its big battle, was like every Hollywood movie," Forster told Deadline.com's Mike Fleming. "It's that big set piece, and it's all about bigger and louder than everything else that came before it. [...] Damon and Drew wrote what became exactly the movie I had in my head. It became a more personal journey, where you could connect with Brad in what felt like a haunted house setting. This way, the tension always shifts in the movie, but it never peaks, like a nice piece of music. I haven't seen that quietly intense an ending in a blockbuster-size film before."
If that slower, more mediative ending sounds familiar, it's because that tone and style was what original "World War Z" screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski said he had in mind in the film's initial stages. "Marc wanted to make a big, huge action movie that wasn't terribly smart and had big, huge action pieces in it," Straczynski told Vanity Fair. "If all you wanted to do was an empty-headed Rambo-versus-the-zombies action film, why option this really elegant, smart book?" (Straczynski received a story credit in "World War Z.")
The book is Max Brooks' "World War Z," though the film's structure is different from the source novel, which presented the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse in an oral history.
"So few original things get made on this scale. This isn’t a sequel, it isn’t based on a superhero in a comic book. We saw it as an opportunity to take a genre and create something new and unique within it," Forster told Deadline.com, without referencing Brooks' book. "That challenge excites me, but uniqueness always comes with criticism."
For more from Forster about the challenges making "World War Z" and the rumors that he and Pitt stopped speaking during filming, head to Deadline.com for the full interview. For an alternate take on the history of "World War Z," check out the Vanity Fair piece.