At this point, it’s no secret that Paramount’s World War Z is in deep trouble. The zombie drama was moved from its December 2012 date to June 2013 to allow for significant reshoots, and Prometheus screenwriter Damon Lindelof was brought on board to rework the script. And all this after an already rocky production history that saw the studio trying and failing for years to get the project off the ground, throwing quite a bit of money at it along the way.
So what, exactly, went wrong? A new report points at a few different factors, and suggests that the movie was plagued with issues from the get-go. Read all about it after the jump.
THR went behind the scenes to get the inside scoop on what turned a once-promising project into an expensive headache. Their (mostly anonymous) sources don’t hold back; one even describes it as “a nightmare from top to bottom.” You can head there for the full details, but we’ll run down some of the major issues here:
- Marc Forster’s weakness as a tentpole director. Though he’s earned positive notice for films like Monster’s Ball, the critically derided Quantum of Solace was his only previous experience with a big, action-heavy project like this one. Among other things, his inexperience led to conflicts on set with the seasoned talents working under him and procrastination on major decisions like what the zombies would look like.
- Consequently, a lack of a clear creative direction. Apparently the plan was to have Forster focus on character and story details while the experienced crew concentrated on action and effects, but splitting up those responsibilities only fostered confusion and dispute. “There was nobody that steered the ship,” one insider said. “When you get [a director] who can’t do it all … you get a struggle as to whose is the singular voice.”
- A rushed production schedule. Sources say World War Z was given the greenlight before it was ready, perhaps thanks to producer/star Brad Pitt‘s relationship with Paramount CEO Brad Grey, and that the studio then pushed them to have it ready in time for the December 2012 release. For example, second-unit director Simon Crane was initially allotted just a third of the 60 days he wanted for second-unit work.
The more we hear about this project, the more worrying the signs appear. But if there’s hope to be found, it’s in the fact that the footage they do have apparently looks fairly good right now. “It’s a great first 45 minutes, maybe even an hour,” one individual said. Paramount film group president Adam Goodman said that the footage “looks fantastic, but we all agreed it can have a better ending.” So, it’s off to a decent start at least. We can only keep our fingers crossed that they’ll make the most of that extra reshoot time.