That is a distinct possibility according to NY Magazine’s Vulture blog,which is reporting that Paramount is currently looking for someone to co-finance their in development adaptation of Max Brooks’ seminal zombie novel World War Z. The film currently has a price tag of $125 million, so Paramount has allegedly approached frequent co-financing partner David Ellison (who has already committed to Paramount’s upcoming Mission: Impossible IV and Top Gun II) as well as another, unspecified investor to share the expense.
While Vulture quotes Paramount Film Group president Adam Goodman as saying, “We’re really committed to making a big, kick-ass giant movie with [director] Marc Forster and [star] Brad Pitt,” they also state that Goodman claimed it was “too early to tell” if the studio would move ahead on the film without co-financing in place.
If Paramount isn’t able to find someone to split the bill with, I rather doubt that they would proceed with World War Z on their own. Studios have become increasingly conscious of the high price of their big budget tentpole films of late and are always looking to spread some of the cost among production partners. Just a few weeks ago Universal pulled the plug on Guillermo Del Toro’s long in development At The Mountains Of Madness over concerns whether the planned R rated horror film could make back at the box office its estimated $150 million budget. Foster’s contract stipulates that he would shoot for a PG-13 rating with World War Z, so theoretically the film would have an easier time at the box office than an R rated Mountains in terms of to whom they could sell tickets.
It would be a shame if Paramount does cancel the film. J Michael Straczynski’s initial drafts for the film were something that exceeded the zombie film genre in an exciting way. While there are many horror films that contain a certain amount of subtext, Straczynski’s drafts drew some solid real world parallels that would have made it a new high mark in the genre. When Forster was brought on board, he hired to do some rewrites on the script. I can’t say what he was instructed to do, though I would guess that there was probably a note to reign in some of the epic scope of Straczynski’s drafts. It Would be a shame if the filmmakers had tried everything they could do to make the film affordable to make only to have it be cancelled over budgetary issues anyway.