The adaptation of Max Brooks' zombie tale World War Z has been mired in its own ominous dread interrupted by long, talky passages pretty much since it was announced, and a new investigation into its troubled production from The Hollywood Reporter suggests things are far from improving. After a rocky start that almost saw Paramount scrap it entirely before a last-minute intervention by investor David Ellison, the optimism expressed by star Brad Pitt that it could even be a trilogy dashed by reports of Pitt becoming "livid" over the film's endless production and mismanagement (epitomized by the confiscation of 85 stunt weapons by a Hungarian anti-terrorism squad), and the emergence of a fan-enraging PG-13 rating and synopsis that indicated the film was turning Brooks' unique faux-historical take into a sanitized, by-numbers horror movie, THR, not surprisingly, says that things really haven't gotten much better. In fact, the production has been called "a nightmare from top to bottom," and not the fun zombie kind.
For one thing, the budget (which nearly killed the project in the first place) has already ballooned to over $170 million, with "five weeks of complex reshoots" still to come. And as part of those, Prometheus screenwriter Damon Lindelof was recently drafted to completely redo the film's third act—an indication of how overall "not fully baked" and directionless the project has been from the beginning, with THR terming it a "seemingly headless enterprise" that is, again, not in a fun zombie way. Much of that can apparently be blamed on director Marc Forster, the Quantum Of Solace director whose reportedly shaky experience with overseeing special-effects-laden tentpoles is already drawing negative comparisons to Andrew Stanton's John Carter, with many in Forster's crew expressing frustration and even threatening to quit.
As a measure of Forster's inability to take charge, THR points out that, as late as three weeks before shooting began, the director had yet to decide "what the zombies would look like and how they would move," which is a fairly crucial part of any zombie movie. Instead, as one source put it, "There was a lot of spinning of plates, a lot of talking. [But] they did not have a plan"—something that may fly on The Walking Dead, say, but not in a big-budget Brad Pitt movie. So as a result, Paramount has already moved the film from its intended 2012 release date all the way to next summer, even though it maintains it's confident that it can be salvaged. "It’s a great first 45 minutes, maybe even an hour," according to one source's faint praise—though as of now the prospects aren't looking so good for getting much further beyond that.