There are few actors in Hollywood who champion visionary filmmakers and artistic talent quite like Brad Pitt. He can be fiercely loyal and has developed long-term relationships as a producer and actor with folks like Terrence Malick, Andrew Dominik, Ridley Scott and David Fincher. But those friendships can fray. While we’ll never know the whole story behind “Moneyball,” we doubt Pitt and Steven Soderbergh are still exchanging birthday cards. And it looks like “World War Z” is brewing another rift between Pitt and a filmmaker.
Vulture reports that Pitt has stopped speaking altogether to director Marc Forster, as the studio and film gear up to head into three weeks of reshoots (though previous reports have put the figure at as long as seven weeks — more on that in second). Apparently, production president Marc Evans, Paramount film group head Adam Goodman, and Dede Gardner who runs Pitt’s Plan B, are acting as intermediaries between the two, passing along any communications the director or actor have for each other. Awkward. The irony? Pitt was the one who championed Forster for the gig when the studio was hesitating due to his reportedly contentious shoot on “Quantum Of Solace,” which faced not only a tight deadline but was, according to Daniel Craig, “fucked” by the writer’s strike.
But, as much as Forster is being thrown under the bus, let’s pause for a second. Vulture adds that not only was “World War Z” also facing a tight deadline — shooting started last summer for a Christmas release this year — but it also started lensing without a finalized script. So, one can’t entirely blame Forster that Pitt and Paramount honchos were “unhappy with how some of the big action set pieces were turning out, especially one at the end of the film that wasn’t cutting together properly.” If you start without a clear idea of where you’re going, this kind of stuff is bound to happen.
As we know, Damon Lindelof was brought on to try and salvage the script in advance of the reshoots, for a film that even Paramount admits is only about half of a good movie at this point. And while it was recently reported that Lindelof had his input, with Drew Goddard actually putting pen to paper, Vulture adds that the “Lost” writer bailed because the fixes being asked for required “months of work” and the changes would be needed throughout the movie, not just for the end. Oof. So where does the movie stand?
Right now, the script is still being sorted. Pitt has final approval but until he signs off, a budget can’t be drafted, and it’s unclear just how many weeks of additional work are needed (hence the estimates on the reshoot schedule). As for Forster, even though he and Pitt are not on speaking terms, his DGA contract likely will see him bound to the film though “outside help” may be brought in for the action sequences. “The studio is cultivating multiple options,” a source told Vulture. “One is to try scrapping [the ending] and trying something different: They want to construct an entirely new ending to the movie. The other is to try salvaging it, because decent action can be elevated, and even shitty action can be saved. This is not an unmitigated disaster; it is salvageable.”
Of course, there is total silence from everyone actually involved in the movie at this point. But something Forster told us last fall at TIFF, has a bit more of a haunting resonance now: “I feel like every time I take on a movie, it’s important that the possibility of failure exists, and of the unknown, because it’s a challenge to do something I haven’t done before and something I have to try to work out. Because every filmmaker, every artist, every person who’s trying to create something, you cannot [always] succeed, but you can eventually have failed and succeed again.”
Barring any further disasters, “World War Z” will open on June 21, 2013.