World War Z reshoots were 30-40 minutes to fix ending

Damon Lindelof was hired to massively rewrite the ending of Brad Pitt’s zombie epic.

Brad Pitt in World War Z
Brad Pitt in World War Z

Damon Lindelof and Paramount executive Marc Evans have discussed the “literally insane” production of World War Z and extensive reshoots to fix an ending that didn’t make sense.

Talking to Variety, Evans explained that the first cut revealed that a new ending was necessary. “It was, like, Wow. The ending of our movie doesn’t work. I believed in that moment we needed to reshoot the movie. We were going to have long, significant discussions to fix this,” .

Lindelof recalls telling the producers that bold action would be required to fix the film. “I said to them, ‘There are two roads to go down here. Is there material that can be written to make that stuff work better? To have it make sense? To have it have emotional stakes? And plot logic and all that? And Road Two, which I think is the long-shot road, is that everything changes after Brad leaves Israel.’ I didn’t think anyone was going to say, ‘Let’s throw it out and try something else.’ So when I gave them those two roads and they sounded more interested in Road Two, I was like, ‘To be honest with you, good luck selling that to Paramount.’”

Variety reveals that Lindelof’s plan meant shooting an additional 30-40 minutes of footage and discarding a 12-minute Russian-set battle sequence, pushing the production budget to $200 million.

Evans told Variety that the chaotic production wasn’t helped by some shoddy management on location, particularly in Malta, where crewmembers found a draw full of purchase orders and expenses that had simply been discarded and forgotten, which added up to millions of dollars worth of expenses. “It was literally insane,” he told them. “Adam [Goodman, president of the Paramount Film Group] and I believed we’d gotten out of Malta good, and I found out we weren’t. That is a nightmare.”

World War Z will be released on 21 June in the UK. You can buy Max Brooks’ World War Z in paperback for £5.99 at Amazon.co.uk.