Here’s some pretty solid indication that apocalyptic zombie epic World War Z will finally be coming to the big screen soon: Paramount have renewed their option on the book for what its author Max Brooks described as “half the time and twice the money”. That’s not the kind of cheque you just throw out there, so I can only imagine the studio is going to be making some serious moves to bring the film to life, and soon.

In his interview with Fear Net, Brooks also confirms that Marc Forster is still attached to direct. Will he stay attached all the way to the first day of shooting?

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It’s nothing like the merry-go-round of screenwriters but it does sometimes seem that pretty much all studio pictures go through a few directors on their way to the screen. Very often a director will board a project, wrestle with it for months, if not years, then depart. Other times, a whole list of directors will have passed pretty much as soon as they close the script and a project can find some time to find somebody willing to commit.

The last we told you, Marc Forster was going to direct zombie epic World War Z from a script by Matthew Carnahan. Some rumours bubbled up in the summer that he was off the project, but died down pretty quickly, and now word is definitely that he’s very much still in the driving seat. On the other hand, our last report on Joe Wright told you that he would be directing Keira Knightley in a new version of My Fair Lady and that, it has now become clear, isn’t the case at all.

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Matthew Carnahan Rewriting World War Z

World War Z

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.

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Marc Forster to Direct World War Z

Paramount has hired Quantum of Solace director Marc Forster to helm World War Z, the big screen adaptation of Max Brooks bestselling novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. The 352 page book chronicles the aftermath of a great zombie-human war.

Changeling scribe J Michael Straczynski penned the screenplay, which AICN once called “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. Forster told Variety that the story reminded him of “the paranoid conspiracy films of the ’70s like ‘All the President’s Men.”

The book was released in 2006, and is available on Amazon for $16.47. I’ve included the official plot description from the book below:

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’?”

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