Title: World War Z
Abstract: World War Z is an upcoming post-apocalyptic horror film based on the novel of the same name by Max Brooks. The film is directed by Marc Forster and stars Brad Pitt, with a script written by J. Michael Straczynski and Matthew Michael Carnahan. The film is scheduled to be released on June 21, 2013.
After a bidding war with Leonardo DiCaprio's production company Appian Way, Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment secured the screen rights to the novel in 2007. The screenplay was written by Babylon 5 and Rising Stars creator J. Michael Straczynski, who identified the challenge in adapting the work as "creating a main character out of a book that reads as a UN Report on the zombie wars". Marc Forster signed on to direct, and described the film as reminiscent of 1970s conspiracy thrillers like All the President's Men. Straczynski, however, identified 2002 spy film The Bourne Identity as an appropriate comparison, and noted that the film will have a large international scope which maintains the political emphasis.
When asked about his involvement with the film, Brooks stated that he had "zero control", but favored a role for Brad Pitt, and expressed approval for Straczynski as screenwriter. In an interview with Fangoria, Brooks said, "I can't give it away, but Straczynski found a way to tie it all together. The last draft I read was amazing."
An early script was leaked onto the internet in 2008. Ain't It Cool News reviewed the script in March 2008, and said "This isn't just a good adaptation of a difficult book... it's a genre-defining piece of work that could well see us all arguing about whether or not a zombie movie qualifies as 'Best Picture' material". The review also noted the film appears stylistically similar to Children of Men. According to Ain't It Cool News, the film follows Gerry Lane as he travels the post-war world and interviews survivors of the zombie war who are "starting to wonder if survival is a victory of any kind." One of the first interviews is with Dr. Tsai, the first to encounter the zombies.
Straczynski had hoped that the film would begin production by the start of 2009. Forster, however, told IGN in March 2009 that the script was still in development and he was not sure if World War Z would be his next film. Later in March, rumors surfaced that production offices were set up and the film was in early pre-production. In June 2009, Marc Forster told an interviewer that the film would be delayed, stating that the film's script still needs a lot of development and is "still far from realization".
In July 2009, Brooks revealed to Fangoria that the script is currently being re-written by Matthew Michael Carnahan. Brooks believes this "shows [the producer's] confidence in this project" because of the amount of money that was being invested in it. Paramount Pictures and UTV Motion Pictures announced at the 2010 Comic-Con that Forster is set as director, and Brad Pitt has been confirmed to play the lead role.
In March 2011, it was reported that Paramount was searching for co-financier, and would likely pull the plug on the adaptation without one. The article also stated that "an eleventh-hour effort is being made to court frequent Paramount co-financier David Ellison." A week later, Deadline.com reported that "hot and heavy talks are going on with David Ellison's Skydance and as many as two other financiers."
Pre-production began in April 2011 with Robert Richardson announced as the cinematographer. In the same month it was reported that filming locations will include Pinewood Studios and London, England. Also in April, Mireille Enos was cast as Brad Pitt’s wife and mother of their two children.
In June 2011, James Badge Dale entered negotiations to join the film as an American soldier who tries to alert authorities that the zombie threat is real. The following day it was reported that filming will begin in Malta in July 2011 and will encompass Valletta and The Three Cities. A few days later Matthew Fox and Ed Harris entered talks while Julia Levy-Boeken was set to join the film. The same day Lucy Aharish joined the cast as a young Palestinian woman. It was also reported in June that filming will also take place in Glasgow, Scotland in August 2011. Glasgow will double as Philadelphia, "with false shop fronts being constructed and American cars on the roads." The city was reportedly chosen after "many months looking for the perfect city centre location to play an important part in the film." Philadelphia was passed on due to "uncertainties about state tax credits for filmmakers." Later in June, visual effects house Cinesite announced that it will work on “a significant amount of shots”. At the end of the month New York Magazine reported that neither Matthew Fox nor Ed Harris would be starring in the film despite previous reports. Fox had a scheduling conflict stemming from his prior commitment to star in I, Alex Cross with Tyler Perry at Summit Entertainment. However Fox was later spotted on the set, filming scenes in Falmouth, Cornwall.
On a budget of $125 million, World War Z began principal photography in July 2011 in Malta, with the first images of production being released a few days later. Filming was set to move to Glasgow, Scotland in August with the production company looking to recruit 2,000 local extras for the shoot. At least 3,000 people showed up at a casting call in Glasgow on July 9, hoping for the opportunity to appear in a scene set in a financial district in Philadelphia. Some scenes are also to be shot in Falmouth, Cornwall. Also in July 2011, Game of Thrones actor Elyes Gabel was cast as a character named Fassbach.
In August 2011, Bryan Cranston entered negotiations to join the film in a "small but flashy" role. Also in August, filming was set to take place along a road on the perimeter of the Grangemouth Refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland. The location was chosen for the length of the road which is crucial to the shot. A few days later Paramount announced the film will be released on December 21, 2012. Later in the same month, filming began in Glasgow. The location manager for the film said Glasgow had been chosen because of its architecture, wide roads and grid layout. In October 2011, David Morse was cast as a "prisoner living in an abandoned jail."
Filming in Budapest commenced on the evening of October 10, 2011. That morning, the Hungarian Anti-Terrorism Unit raided the warehouse where guns had been delivered for use as filming props. The 85 assault rifles, sniper rifles, and handguns had been flown into Budapest overnight on a private aircraft, but the film's producers had failed to clear the delivery with Hungarian authorities, and while the import documentation indicated that the weapons had been disabled, all were found to be fully functional. On February 10, the charges were dropped after investigators were unable to identify exactly which "organization or person" had "ownership rights", therefore they couldn't "establish which party was criminally liable".
In December 2011, it was reported that Marco Beltrami has signed on to score World War Z.
World War Z was initially slated for release by Paramount Pictures, UTV Motion Pictures and Skydance Productions on December 21, 2012. In March 2012, the film's release was pushed back to June 21, 2013, with Paramount electing to release One Shot on the December 2012 date (Wikipedia, 2012).