For a while there after Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, everything seemed to be coming up Zombie. Horror cycles through certain ideas, and the undead became a staple. This trend seems to be dead as Paramount is – according to Vulture - balking at making World War Z for a $125 Million dollar price tag. The film was to star Brad Pitt, and to be directed by Marc Forster with an eye for a PG-13 rating.
Based on the Max Brooks novel, the story is of how the world survived the fictional Zombie War, as told from the survivors perspective. If the film was going to go with a straighter narrative or includes wraparound is unknown.
Horror has a box office ceiling, especially in America, and even with a PG-13 rating, most horror films don’t do much more than $100 Million domestic (Paranormal Activity did $107, The Ring did $129). The modern formula for horror is generally based around low-cost productions and remakes. In the 90′s the studios tried to make more A-list horror movies by using great actors and directors to reinvent the Dracula, Wolf Man and Frankenstein mythos, but those films (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Wolf, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) ranged in quality from interesting failures to abject misfires. Then there was the misbegotten production of The Wolfman, which was a box office misfire.
The expense ceiling for horror was going to be busted by Guillermo del Toro with his At the Mountains of Madness, but that fell threw – likely for the same reasons this is falling apart. Even with big names attached, horror is considered a turn-off for women (even though they have turned books and films like Twilight and Carrie into hits), and therefore a bigger gamble. Of course films like Jaws and Gremlins seem to disprove this theory, but those films are old and/or completely different- at least in the logic of decisions like this.
Would you line up to see Brad Pitt fight the undead?