Netflix’s official trailer for Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” unveiled one of the film’s big surprises: A zombie tiger prowling around Las Vegas. The zombie tiger, named Valentine in the movie, is just one way Snyder and his team are attempting to elevate the zombie genre with their upcoming Netflix tentpole, and it turns out the creation of the undead feline shares a tangential relationship to the streaming giant’s documentary sensation “Tiger King.” As revealed by producer Deborah Snyder (via Collider), the “Army of the Dead” VFX team modeled Valentine after a tiger owned by none other than Carole Baskin.
As reported by Collider: “According to Snyder, the visual effects team called different animal sanctuaries in order to get a real-life reference for modeling and animating Valentine. The chosen candidate ended up being a tiger owned by Baskin, now internationally famous after the world got briefly distracted from the pandemic by following Baskin’s long-time feud with Joe Exotic on ‘Tiger King.'”
“Snyder says this choice was made before ‘Tiger King’ was released, and the team spent a week on Baskin’s sanctuary before the series revealed the threats and harassment campaigns between the rival exotic animal owners,” the report continues. “As Snyder jokingly says, ‘At least they got out of there alive.'”
“Army of the Dead” stars Dave Bautista as the leader of 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.
Netflix and Snyder are launching “Army of the Dead” in theaters and on streaming this summer with the intention of kicking off a larger universe of interconnected films and television series. Cast member Matthias Schweighöfer has already directed a German-language prequel movie centered around his codebreaker character, while Snyder is also developing an animated prequel series that fills in the backstory on how the zombie outbreak happened.
“Army of the Dead” will begin streaming May 21 on Netflix. Ahead of the streaming launch, the film will debut in select theaters May 14.