Long before Zack Snyder become synonymous for DC Comics movies, he was a young director given the opportunity to remake George A. Romero’s 1978 zombie classic “Dawn of the Dead” for his feature directorial debut. Snyder hit the remake out of the park. The 2004 “Dawn of the Dead,” scripted by James Gunn and starring Sarah Polley and Ving Rhames, was a critical and commercial hit with over $100 million at the worldwide box office on a reported $26 million production budget. The success of Snyder’s first feature opened up Hollywood’s door, and next came the even bigger breakthrough “300” at Warner Bros.
Seventeen years after “Dawn of the Dead,” Snyder is returning to the zombie genre for the explosive Netflix heist-action movie “Army of the Dead,” which looks to be as big of a summer movie tentpole as Netflix will have later this year. Starring Dave Bautista, “Army of the Dead” follows a group of mercenaries who plot a heist on a Las Vegas casino during a zombie outbreak. The supporting cast includes Theo Rossi, Tig Notaro, Garret Dillahunt, Raúl Castillo, Omari Hardwick, Hiroyuki Sanada, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ella Purnell, and Ana de la Reguera.
“It is a full-blown, balls-to-the-wall zombie heist movie, so it’s genre-on-genre in a great way,” Snyder told Entertainment Weekly earlier this year about the movie. “So you expect pure zombie mayhem, and you get that, 100 percent. But also you get these really amazing characters on a fantastic journey. It’s going to surprise people that there’s a lot of warmth and real emotion with these great characters.”
“Army of the Dead” sat in development hell at Warner Bros. for over 10 years before Netflix swooped in to purchase the distribution rights and get the film into production. The movie marks Snyder’s first non-Warner Bros. project since “300.”
“[Warner Bros.] didn’t want to spend that kind of money on a zombie movie,” Snyder told EW, “or just didn’t take it that seriously. I was always like, ‘Look guys, this is more than [just a zombie movie],’ but it fizzled out.”
Netflix loved Snyder’s idea so much that it is expanding “Army of the Dead” into a full blown franchise. The streamer has ordered a four-hour animated prequel series for the film that dives into the origin of the plague that created the zombie epidemic. Snyder cracked the idea himself for the animated prequel.
“Army of the Dead” will stream globally May 21 on Netflix. Watch the first trailer for the tentpole below.