Because zombie movies were so hot, Brooks’ novel was picked up for a film adaptation almost immediately, and as early as 2007, Plan B and Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way found itself embroiled in a war. auction for the rights. The idea of making a zombie movie on a global scale – with hordes of zombies overwhelming the landscape – was attractive from a production standpoint, because a zombie movie with a Hollywood blockbuster budget hadn’t been tried since… ever? And whether Pitt or DiCaprio end up landing the rights to “World War Z,” it would also be the first zombie blockbuster to feature a bankable Hollywood leading man.
Crafting a screenplay suitable for the cinema for “World War Z” was a trial, as one would guess from the fact that it has four credited screenwriters and two “story by” credits.
The original novel was an epistolary, you see, telling its story from “found” tapes and in-person interviews with various people around the world who had survived the Zombie Uprising. But if the film featured a notable actor like Brad Pitt, it needed a central perspective. The first take on the script, written by science fiction luminary J. Michael Straczynski, was highly praised by internet pundits who had managed to read a leaked version (which can be taken with a grain of salt, as said experts tend to speak in a language of superlatives), and Straczynski’s screenplay ended up The blacklist survey in 2007 as one of the best screenplays yet to be produced. The original idea was to tell a zombie movie from a more terse, grounded perspective, and Straczynski likened his work to “The Bourne Identity.” This pithy piece of pop action entertainment was very much in vogue in the early 2000s.
Two years later, it was announced that Straczynski’s script was being rewritten by Matthew Michael Carnahan (“Lions for Lambs”, “State of Play”). Carnahan, given his previously produced scripts, was meant to keep Straczynski’s terseness in place, but altered in a way that has not been revealed. In 2011, pre-production began in earnest, with filming beginning in Malta.
Despite this, there were still arguments within the production company over the script, which was described as abrupt and inconsistent. After production, screenwriter Damon Lindelof (“Prometheus”, “Star Trek Into Darkness”) was hired to rework the film’s entire third act. The story goes that he and Pitt were able to find a better script in the version already in production, but Lindelof had to leave before they could. Actually rework the ending and assign completion duties to Drew Goddard (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Cloverfield”). This was after a version of the film had apparently already been completed.