What’s going on with the big screen adaptation of Max Brooks‘ book World War Z? J. Michael Straczynski wrote a screenplay, which seems like over a year ago, and Quantum of Solace helmer Marc Forster has been attached to direct. But aside from comments from Stazzynski or Foster here or there, we really haven’t gotten an update on the project in a long while.
Brooks, son of comedy legend Mel Brooks, revealed that Paramount Pictures has hired a new writer for the project, while making an appearance on Fangoria Radio. Who is the new writer? Matthew Michael Carnahan, brother of director Joe Carnahan, and writer of The Kingdom, Lions For Lambs, and State of Play. Brooks said that Carnahan is “one of Hollywood’s hot A-list writers, so if they went after him and paid him a mountain of gold, it definitely shows their confidence in this project.” Still no word an an updated production timeline.
Straczynski has also called the film “a thriller”, comparing it to the Bourne films, and stating that it would be the first large scale zombie film:
“Most zombie movies to this point have been small, focusing on a few people in a house. And this has got real scare. You’re in India with hundreds of boats trying to get out of there with a tidal wave of zombies. The scale of what we’re doing here is phenomenal.”
Like every other industry in America, Hollywood is cutting back. Is it possible that the rewrite might address budget concerns? It might not be the right time to make a story this epic in scale.
AICN called Straczynski’s previous draft of the screenplay “a horror epic, a serious, sober-minded adult picture”, potentially “a genre-defining piece of work” with Best Picture potential (really?!). The basic premise of the book is that it is an oral history of the zombie war, compiled by an unnamed government employee. The movie follows this researcher, named Gerry Lane (possibly to be played by Brad Pitt, who is producing the project), as he travels the world conducting interviews with survivors, 10-years later.
The book was released in 2006, and is available on Amazon for $16.47. I’ve included the official plot description from the book after the jump:
“The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.
Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.
Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”