“World War Z,” as we noted in our recent look at this year’s blockbusters, had a pretty great summer. More that $200 million in the U.S. and another half a billion bucks worldwide is good going for anyone (including Brad Pitt—it’s now his highest-grossing film ever), but it’s especially good going for a film that many of those in the so-called know had written off as doomed to bomb after a long, troubled production and rumours of extensive, elaborate rewrites and reshoots. The massive success of the final film was a lesson to all us cine-nerds who think that audiences actually care about that kind of thing (a subject ripe for its own discussion which we tackle right here).
But whatever became of that original, Russia-set finale (which we have previously explored here) for “World War Z”? In case you didn’t know, the Welsh lab setting of the final portion of the zombie movie had replaced a much bigger, more spectacular showdown in Russia. Over at Movies.com, director Marc Forster opened up about the thinking behind the change and though he was presumably at least part of the problem in the first place, kudos to him for being brave enough to go small, rather than just chuck more CGI at the problem until it went away.
“Basically in the original ending, after the Israel sequence and the plane crash, Gerry is in Russia, and the storyline of what he finds out at the WHO lab is what he finds in Russia but he applies his theory in a battlefield setting. We called it ‘The Battle of Moscow,’ and it’s a huge battle with zombies and multiple other characters and ultimately Gerry defeats them by realizing that the zombies avoid him and go around him [after injecting himself with a virus],” Forster explained. “So it’s in Russia, at night, in a snowstorm with thousands of zombies and big battles; kind of the scope of the Israel sequence. Some of that footage is still in the film, you see it during the montage when Gerry journeys back to his family on that small boat, we see a few glimpses from that battle. We never finished that footage because we all agreed after Israel and the plane crash you’re battle fatigued and you really want the movie to be more quiet and you don’t want it to go into another huge combat situation.”
Again, it’s a bolder choice, particularly with studio tentpoles opting for mega-destruction whenever possible, and one that ultimately works out better for the film. (Forster goes into a lot more detail at Movies.com so be sure to check it out.)
On the same subject, and unsurprisingly given the film’s success, Pitt has revealed while promoting “12 Years a Slave” that a sequel is being discussed, which makes sense. The film is based on a book and left considerable parts of that source material unused, so there’s plenty more grist for the zombie mill. “We have so many ideas on the table from the time we spent developing this thing and figuring out how the zombie worlds work,” Pitt told Variety. “We gotta get the script right first to determine if we go further.”
So it sounds like ideas are percolating, but as always, they want to put their best foot forward, and considering the trauma they went through last time, we presume they’ll start with the ending….