Warning: Major spoilers ahead.
World War Z was this summer’s biggest surprise: it was a major tentpole film that didn’t bomb. The notoriously troubled production, which faced multiple rewrites, a complete deviation from the source material, a delayed release date, and an entire third act that was scrubbed and reshot, opened with an impressive $66 million domestic box office haul, putting the film - which reportedly cost $190 million to make - on track for a sequel, and a potential trilogy.
But what of that original, scrapped ending? Peter Hall at Movies.com read the original script for World War Z and saw a decidedly darker, less optimistic ending.
The World War Z that you got in theaters sees Brad Pitt’s Gerry escaping an overrun Israel with an Israeli soldier named Segen. The last plane out of the city is overrun by zombies and crashes in the wilds of Whales. Gerry and Segen are the only two survivors, and they trek on foot to the World Health Organization in hopes of delivering news of a stop-gap “cure.” They find plenty of quarantined humans there, but plenty of zombies, too. After a quietly tense trek into zombie territory, Gerry obtains the samples of diseases that, when injected into a health human, camouflages the person from the zombies. The “inoculations” are produced en masse, Gerry is reunited with his family, and a somberly optimistic voice over informs us that the first leg of the invasion is over... for now.
What was scrapped was decidedly darker, bleaker, and less hopeful. Gerry and Segen’s plane lands safely in Moscow, where the Russian military immediately round people up in a decidedly Nazi-esque fashion. The elderly and the infirm are executed, and the healthy - like Gerry - are sent to work camps. A time jump places us in winter, with Gerry - human, but obviously dead inside - part of the Russian zombie clearing force. They use Lobos, just like in the book. The Nazi parallels continue when the teams are split up by religion, leading to a rebellion by Gerry and his new friend, Simon. Fighting continues, and Gerry and Simon realize that the freezing Russian winter may be their best weapon against the hordes. Gerry must “convince” a high-ranking Gestapo soldier who took his satellite phone - Gerry’s only link to his wife, now whisked away to some “refugee” camp - that this is a viable option. The soldier has created his own little “joy division” (what the Nazis called the Jews they forced into prostitution) with Segen, so Gerry wastes no time in killing the soldier. Things seem to be looking up when he alerts the Russian general of the new freezing technique, and the tide turns on the Russian battle. Gerry is finally allowed to call his wife, Karin. In the finished film, she and the kids were taken to a refugee camp in Nova Scotia; in the original script, they went to Florida, where the freezing technique is useless. The camp down there is far less safe than the one in the film, and Karin is forced to prostitute herself in order to keep her kids safe and fed. The film ends with Gerry journeying back to the States and planning a cross-country trek to rescue his family.
Clearly, the original script was written with sequels in mind.
What do you think? Were you happy with the ending we got, or would you have preferred the ending that never was? Much of this footage was shot, so maybe there will be an alternate cut on the blu-ray. I think that would certainly boost blu-ray sales.
Check out the more detailed rundown at Movies.com.