Screenwriter Damon Lindelof is known for writing epic stories such as "Prometheus,""Star Trek Into Darkness" and the acclaimed ABC TV series "Lost."
So it's no surprise that Brad Pitt came to the successful writer/producer in search of advice for how to help his upcoming, troubled film "World War Z."
In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Lindelof reveals that "WWZ" has had to re-write and reshoot 40 minutes of the movie to find a coherent ending — and how the budget ballooned to around $200 million.
Lindelof tells Vanity Fair contributor Laura M. Holson that Pitt told him, explaining "When we started working on the script, a lot of that stuff had to fall away for the story to come together. 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."
The actor asked Lindelof to watch an early edit, and told him, “The thing we really need right now is someone who is not burdened by all the history that this thing is inheriting, who can see what we’ve got and tell us how to get to where we need to get.”
Pitt wasn't the only one who knew the ending needed fixing. Paramount executive Marc Evans watched the director’s cut and told VF: “It was, like, Wow. The ending of our movie doesn’t work. I believed in that moment we needed to reshoot the movie.”
After viewing the film, Lindelof agreed the film's ending was abrupt and incoherent — and missing a huge chunk of footage.
“I said to them, 'There are two roads to go down here,'” Lindelof tells the mag. “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.”
Lindelof's suggestion meant getting rid of an already-shot, 12-minute Russian battle scene and shooting a completely different ending.
“I didn’t think anyone was going to say, ‘Let’s throw it out and try something else,’” Lindelof recalls. “So when I gave them those two roads and they sounded more interested in Road B”—which meant shooting an additional 30 to 40 minutes of the movie—“I was like, ‘To be honest with you, good luck selling that to Paramount.’”
Hopefully Pitt's passion for the project will prevail. As Lindelof recalls of his initial meeting with the actor, “He took me through how excited he was when he read the book, what was exciting for him, the geopolitical aspect of it.”
The film will be distributed by Paramount, a unit of media conglomerate Viacom, which is majority owned by the private National Amusements, Inc.