I'll admit, I was skeptical when I first picked up Max Brooks' novel World War Z. I'm not big on zombies, I thought the first season of The Walking Dead was "meh" at best and when it comes to apocalyptic fiction, my range is pretty polarized between explosive popcorn fluff and bleak naturalism. What I found was a world that satistfied both ends of the spectrum, and I blew through the book's 350 or so pages in maybe five hours.
Naturally, World War Z has been picked up for film adaptation by the Hollywood machine. Although Brad Pitt gave the project a significant boost late last summer when he committed to star, Paramount still balked at the picture's $125 million price tag. They elected to share the burden with a triumverate of outside financiers including Skydance Productions. The four-year old shingle based at the Santa Monica Airport is run by David Ellison, the son of Oracle founder and CEO Larry Ellison. When Dad is the sixth-richest man in the world with a $28 billion net worth, it's pretty easy to get a $200 million line of revolving credit from JP Morgan and a four-year studio deal.
The marketplace is pretty rife with zombie material at the moment, a subject Deadline's Nikki Finke took on when the co-financing deal was announced. With talent like Pitt and director Marc Forster at the helm, though, I'm more optimistic about World War Z than another installment of Resident Evil.
The film is casting right now (The Killing's Mireille Enos signed on today to play Pitt's wife) and cameras are scheduled to roll this summer.