Brad Pitt's World War Z surprised everyone by pulling in over $60 million in North America alone during its opening weekend.
Brad Pitt and Marc Forster's World War Z is undoubtedly a success given the state the movie was in some 6 months ago. Working on a huge budget, the zombie apocalypse movie was shaping up to be one of the biggest flops in cinematic history with murmurings of re-shoots, changed endings and discontent leaking from the set on a weekly basis.
According to a report in the New York Magazine's Vulture section, relations between Pitt and Forster became so fraught that the pair stopped speaking to each other altogether. Things apparently got so bad that when Forster had notes on a scene for Pitt, they had to be relayed through an intermediary.
Brad Pitt At The World War Z Premiere in New York
Ironically, Pitt - whose company produced World War Z - fought for Forster to be given the director's chair on the $170 million budget movie. The studio was perhaps understandably wary given his only other big-budget effort was Quantum of Solace, the rather underwhelming 2008 James Bond movie.
Anyway, forget all that, because the guys managed to pull it together and release World War Z to a wave of strong reviews and big box-office numbers. The film images a world overrun by a zombie pandemic which leads to a new global power structure, though is there more to this flick than meets the eye? It sure looks like a fairly standard if entertaining addition to the tried and tested zombie genre, though several commentators suggest it comes equipped with a hidden message.
Marc Forster Allegedly Fell Out With Brad Pitt Whilst Shooting World War Z
In World War Z, two of the few countries that manage to keep out the flesh eating zombies are Israel and North Korea. The first because of its wall separating Israelis and Palestinians, and the second, because it simply removed the teeth of its citizens to prevent zombie biting. Ingenious! Some have suggested World War Z attempts to convey the message that physical walls can be a positive force in the Middle East, and that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is savvy and uses common sense.
"Will (foreign moviegoers) conclude that the filmmakers (are) saying that Kim Jong-un and Benjamin Netanyahu are the wisest leaders in the world, except that Kim is a little bit wiser, because he's uncontaminated by humanitarian sentiments?" wrote Hendrik Hertzberg for The New Yorker. "North Koreans still have a few teeth in their heads, but Israel has already built a wall. Will foreign audiences, or potential audiences, interpret the film's message to be that the only thing wrong with the existing wall is that it's not sealed tight enough?"
Mireille Enos Plays Brad Pitt's Character's Wife In World War Z
The Los Angeles Times' Steven Zeitchik wrote: "In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a wall is a heavily fraught symbol. But here it turns into an instrument of peace?"
It's certainly an interesting line of thinking and adds a new dimension to the discerning cinemagoer who want to attach some deeper meanings to the blockbuster zombie flick. The film opened last weekend in North America to a better than expected $66.4 million and plans for a sequel are currently underway.
World War Z is loosely based on Max Brooks' 2006 novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, itself modelled on Studs Terkel's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Good War: An Oral History of World War II. Pitt's company Plan B was aggressive in securing the rights to the novel - bidding $1 million more than rival bidder Leonardo DiCaprio - though getting it onto the screen has been an exhausting and hazardous process.
Studio Paramount indirectly admitted it wasn't happy with the film following the end of the first shoot. "The studio is cultivating multiple options," explained one production insider, "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 sh*tty action can be saved. This is not an unmitigated disaster; it is salvageable." One of those options manifested itself in the form of Lost executive producer Damon Lindelof, who was brought in to watch the movie and make suggestions. Unfortunately for Paramount, Forster and Pitt, he said the script needed months of work - which he could not provide. Lindelof eventually agreed to work with his former colleague Drew Goddard for the better part of a month while Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) worked on rewrites.
Whatever those guys did appeared to work and Pitt's World War Z went from disaster, to salvageable, to a pretty decent zombie flick.
The debate behind its apparent hidden message could be fuelled when the film opens in Israel on July 11, 2013.
Max Brooks, The Writer of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War