Friday, June 21, 2013

How Many Screenwriters Does It Take to Write a Zombie Movie?

This weekend's big release is WORLD WAR Z, based on the bestselling book by Max Brooks, son of comedy legend Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, The Producers). The epistolary novel consists of a collection of interviews with survivors of a zombie apocalypse ten years after the outbreak and, therefore, doesn't follow a traditional narrative.

To handle the tricky screenplay adaptation, Paramount first turned to Babyon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski. The San Diego State University alum's numerous other credits include adapting Ghostbusters into the animated series The Real Ghostbusters and writing for the 1985 Twilight Zone revival, as well as authoring graphic novels (Superman: Earth One, The Amazing Spider-Man, and the upcoming prequel Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan), and penning Clint Eastwood's feature film Changeling. Straczynski also shares a story credit on 2011's Thor and wrote The Complete Book of Scriptwriting.
J. Michael Straczynski
On WWZ, Straczynski has only a shared screen-story credit -- with Matthew Michael Carnahan, who rewrote the screenplay and retains a co-screenplay credit. Carnahan's other work includes the screenplays for Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs and Peter Berg's The Kingdom, both released in 2007. He is the brother of Joe Carnahan, who wrote and directed Narc, The A-Team, and Smokin' Aces.

After principal photography on WWZ was completed, Damon Lindelof was hired to rewrite the film's third act. About a half hour of footage would need to be re-shot over seven weeks to make the ending more coherent. The co-creator of Lost ultimately was unable to finish fixing the ending, leaving the project favor of trying to fix Ridley Scott's Prometheus and co-write last month's blockbuster Star Trek Into Darkness, currently still in theatres.
Damon Lindelof
Lindelof handed off the rest of the rewrite assignment to Drew Goddard, who had previously worked with him and J.J. Abrams on Alias, Lost, and Cloverfield, and with Joss Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and The Cabin in the Woods.

Opening today on more than 3,600 screens, Brad Pitt and a shitload of zombies star in World War Z, based on the book by Max Brooks with a screen story adapted by J. Michael Straczynski and Matthew Michael Carnahan and a screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Damon Lindelof & Drew Goddard.

Trivia: The author's dad, funnyman Mel Brooks, also executive-produced a series of acclaimed dramas in the 1980s under his Brooksfilms banner, including The Elephant Man, Frances, and the 1986 remake of The Fly.

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