When it was revealed that Paramount‘s “World War Z” was going to be heading back for extensive reshoots, we can’t have been the only ones wondering how they were going to shoehorn Channing Tatum into this movie. Ah, maybe we’ve got our Paramount stories mixed up here, but the studio, which is celebrating its 100th year, isn’t having the best anniversary so far. “The Dictator” underperformed last month, and the move of “G.I Joe: Retaliation” left them without a summer tentpole – and this in the same year that they pushed back “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” 10 months to early 2013. Their hopes for the rest of the year will be pinned on “Paranormal Activity 4,” “Flight,” and the Tom Cruise vehicle “Jack Reacher” to make up some of the cash those aforementioned films won’t be bringing in/must be los. And in the case of “World War Z,” it could be quite a chunk of change.
THR estimate the film’s current price tag at north of $170 million, with Damon Lindelof’s script re-writing fee and 5-7 weeks of complex reshoots to fix the ending to be added to that figure. The trade’s report quotes sources on the production saying that it was “a nightmare from top to bottom,” and that director Marc Forster and his team “just couldn’t get it right,” and “didn’t have a plan.” “The director was not empowered. There was nobody that steered the ship. When you get [a director] who can’t do it all…you get a struggle as to whose is the singular voice,” one of the sources said.
While Forster was hand-picked by Pitt, whispers coming from the set suggest that Forster may be at the centre of the problems. To us he always seemed like a strange choice after the clusterfuck that was “Quantum of Solace.” His smaller, more personal films may be by and large more impressive, but “World War Z” certainly doesn’t fit into that category. The shoddiness of the script for “Quantum of Solace” was blamed on complications presented by the writers’ strike, and it seems that the blame is being shifted onto the script again here. THR’s article points to various other complications during the film’s preparation and production, ranging from an uncertainty as to what the zombies should look like to cinematographer Robert Richardson asking to leave the film. Additionally, Forster wasn’t able to bring in his usual crew, and a bunch of seasoned ringers who have more extensive special effects experience were brought in to assist instead, essentially leading to a movie without a strong captain to guide it.
The result? “It’s a great first 45 minutes, maybe even an hour,” one source claims about the film thus far. Meanwhile, the studio themselves are candid about the status of the project. “The footage from this film looks fantastic, but we all agreed it can have a better ending,” Paramount president Adam Goodman told THR. “Getting the ending correct is essential, and we are in that creative process. ‘World War Z’ is a giant summer movie and we are confident it will be a global hit when it’s released June 2013.”
The piece draws parallels to Andrew Stanton’s “John Carter,” but we’d argue that the very fact that Paramount has Brad Pitt front and centre rather than Taylor Kitsch guarantees that this won’t bomb quite as hard, if at all. The situation sounds kind of similar to the noises we were hearing from the “Men in Black III” production just over a year ago, and despite the disaster that looked like it would be, it’s currently the fifth highest grossing movie of the year domestically so far. The rising costs won’t help, but let’s not completely write this off as a commercial venture, even if it seems to be spiralling out of control creatively.