Remember how I said World War Z is a nightmare movie? Well, the nightmare continues, and now Brad Pitt, the producer/star, and Marc Forster, the director, are not speaking to one another.
I’ve been to movie sets where things are contentious and it’s no fun. It’s like being trapped in the kitchen while your friend’s parents fight. You want to leave the room, but you also don’t want to draw attention to yourself for fear of making things more awkward. The problem with fighting on a movie is that it’s very much like a marriage gone south—too many people are involved, there’s too much at stake, and you always end up with a dozen intermediaries trying to fix it. There’s no simple “let’s sit down and talk” with a movie going this poorly because we’re past the stage where just a few people can take charge and course correct. Now we’re into accountants and bosses and hiring people to tell us what’s wrong and there are fourteen people at any given meeting, all trying to be heard.
This is when the nightmare goes from “I’m naked in a crowded room” to “I’m being chased by bears that spew fire and bees and also, my legs are made of Jello”.
Once again, I’m putting this on Pitt. WWZ is (supposed to be) his baby. He shelled out big bucks for the book rights, nurtured the project through development—including fighting for the director he is now no longer speaking to—and has final approval on the script, et cetera. That things have gotten this bad is a sign that Pitt is either not that invested or just does not know what he’s dealing with. I’m voting for the latter, because again, this was a slam-dunk movie when the project got off the ground a few years ago. (Lainey: also…not talking to the director means he’s being a baby; why is Brad Pitt being a baby???) I told an executive at Warner Brothers that it sucked they lost out on the script because WWZ was a golden egg—money and prestige, because the script, at that time, was f*cking amazing and couldn’t miss. Well I’m eating those words now.
But it might not be totally hopeless. They’ve brought in Drew Goddard, who made the fantastic Cabin in the Woods, to rework the ending. That’s much more promising than Damon Lindelof. And like I said before, nightmare movies have a way of surprising, in the end. Some of the most disastrous film shoots in history turned into great, classic movies (Apocalypse Now comes to mind). So maybe they hit on just the right tweak to fix their problem and get back on track and salvage something cool and possibly, even good? I’m skeptical, but I don’t want to rule it out. I love the book too much.
For those of you who don’t care about zombies and haven’t read this book, and so don’t care if the movie sucks, WWZ has moved past that. Now we’re dealing with a classic nightmare movie scenario and it’s a prime example for learning about how easy it is to blow it when it comes to making movies. If you’re at all interested in learning how movies get made, watching WWZ go down in flames is a great case study.
Attached - Brad Pitt out for dinner with George Clooney a couple of weeks ago in London.