Max Brooks Calls World War Z An Adaptation In Name Only

By Brent McKnight | 8 years ago

Many of us are curious to see the end result of the chaotic production that has been Marc Forster’s World War Z. The zombie action flick has traveled a long and bumpy road on the way to its June 21st release date. And no one seems more curious to see what World War Z the movie looks like than Max Brooks, who wrote the book the film is based on.

Talking with an interviewer from Mansfield University, Brooks says that the movie “looks like World War Z in name only,” and that the title is pretty much all that two properties have in common. Because of his rather limited involvement, Brooks is unable to shed any light on the actual film—he hasn’t seen it yet either—but this video serves as an in interesting look at the process of adaptation in Hollywood.

World War Z’s long trek to the silver screen began in 2005, with a bidding war between Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, before the book had even been released. Brooks opted to go with Pitt’s Plan B, and says that was “pretty much the last decision I was allowed to make.”

He doesn’t say this in a bitter-sounding way, noting that this is standard operating procedure for Hollywood. After you’ve decided what movie you want to make, the last guy you want hanging around is the guy that wrote the book. He was only invited to read the script after the movie was already shooting, an offer he declined.

As a Hollywood kid—Brooks is the son of legendary director Mel Brooks—he knew that they were in for a long road. He says he knew that there were extensive, and well-publicized, rewrites and reshoots in store before even the people involved in the film.

Don’t feel too bad for Brooks—after all, he got paid—though he sympathizes with die-hard fans of the book. He “can’t guarantee that it’s going to be the book that they love.” If you’ve read the book, and seen any of the trailer or TV spots, you should already be well aware that these are two very, very different entities. At one point he even says that, if he gets a chance to see the film early, he’ll let fans know if it’s worth their time or not.

At this point, do any of us actually still expect adaptations to resemble the books they’re based on? This is a conversation that has come up often in the last few weeks with the release of Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby, both of which take serious liberties with the source material.

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