5 Reasons World War Z is Going to Flop
Who else thinks World War Z is going to be a flat-out disaster? Yeah, I didn’t think I was alone. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Now that the movie is a moderate box office hit, I can admit that I was wrong]
Vanity Fair just released a preview of their June 2013 exclusive with Brad Pitt, which provides more detail into what we already knew: the production has been a big, bloated mess. While there is a part of me that is morbidly curious to see the movie – and I hope, hope, hope that I am wrong and that the movie will be a fun thrill ride – this seemed like the best opportunity to outline why World War Z is prone to be a big, awful flop.
Here are five reasons why:
5. The movie is going to be nothing like the book
Even before the first trailer ever made its way online, it was clear that the movie was going to represent a huge departure from the Max Brooks bestseller. In the book, Brad Pitt’s character travels the world collecting stories from survivors of the zombie apocalypse; in the movie, understandably, he is at the center of the action.
Changes are to be expected in theatrical adaptations of books, and I’m the first to admit that the book would be very challenging to adapt in its true form, but is the movie going to represent anything more than a shell of its source material? And will fans of the book be open enough to support it and spread positive word-of-mouth?
4. Its release date
World War Z has a prime release date on June 21, 2013, just as children are getting out of school. Unfortunately, one of the most anticipated movies of the year - Man of Steel – debuting a week before and the Roland Emmerich action film White House Down launching in theaters the week after, immediately followed by Despicable Me 2 and Johnny Depp’s The Lone Ranger. Oh, and the movie debuts the same weekend as Monsters University, which is practically guaranteed to open to around $80 million.
In other words, World War Z is going to have come out all guns blazing to make a dent, but there’s no room to do it.
3. The movie was filmed without an ending
“We started shooting the thing before we locked down how it was going to end up, and it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to,” Brad Pitt says of the production. Really, you started filming without an ending? Paramount paid the price, too, resorting to “re-writing and reshooting 40 minutes of the film to find a coherent ending.”
That’s only half the movie. Ouch.
2. World War Z is, at its heart, a zombie movie
I love zombies. I think zombie movies are great. But with rare exception, they don’t make a lot of money. At least not the kind of money World War Z needs to make. Let’s look at some of the most popular zombie movies of the last decade:
- 28 Days Later (2003) - $82 million
- Shaun of the Dead (2004) – $30 million
- Dawn of the Dead (2004) $102 million
- Zombieland (2009) – $102 million worldwide
- I Am Legend (2007) - $585 million
Clearly, Paramount is hoping the most obvious comparison will be I Am Legend, which was marketed more as a Will Smith survival tale than your typical zombie film (in fact, that book is actually about vampires). The comparison is justified, as most people who watch the trailers for World War Z think it’s about an alien invasion and the movie definitely has more of a big budget disaster movie feel than it does a zombie flick. But again, due to its release schedule, this movie won’t have the same opportunity to open huge nor the room to have legs (I Am Legend debuted in December to $77 million).
1. World War Z cost $200 million, at least
I could be wrong. The movie could open relatively strong, on its way to a $150 – 200 million domestic gross. Brad Pitt is popular overseas, as are loud obnoxious blockbusters, so it could make some considerable cash in foreign markets. But according to Variety, the “budget ballooned to around $200 million” – and when marketing and print costs are taken into account, Paramount could be looking at a bill north of $300 million. Pitt likely has a nice back-end deal, further diluting profit margins.
Bottom line: World War Z is going to need to make a lot of money to break even, and with tough competition and presumably bad reviews (you don’t think people don’t expect a certain level of quality following the footsteps of “The Walking Dead,” do you?), it isn’t going to.
What do you think?