World War Z director finally reveals why that ending had to change

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Sep 17, 2013, 11:29 AM EDT (Updated)

We’ve already heard about the wild, Russian World War Z ending we’ll never get to see — but why did they go with the one that actually made the cut? Now we know.

Obviously, World War Z spoilers ahead!

Director Marc Forster did a lengthy interview with breaking down how the official ending compares to the original final act, and got into the nuts and bolts of why he believes the rewritten ending is a much more satisfying finale.

Basically: The original ending, which revolved around a giant zombie battle in Russia, was too bombastic and not character-driven enough to fit the tone of the film. So they rewrote the entire thing to focus on the Brad Pitt vs. freaky zombie faceoff at the World Health Organization.

As the solid box-office take, and reasonably positive public response, will attest — it was a smart move. Check out an excerpt from Forster’s interview below, and read the whole thing here:

“We developed the pages and went back and forth a lot, but I thought it was key to get Gerry isolated from the other two who go in the B wing of the building with him. That his character ends up on his own and is on this journey alone, that was important for me. In the first draft of the pages the three of them were all in the glass lab and I said we have to split them up. He needed to be in there alone. At that point Brad and I were on the same page. So we shot that and a few different versions and played around. It was fun because it was just him and the zombie, you have time to explore the performance and play around with it. The inspiration from this came from the ending of Alien 3, the confrontation of Ripley and the Alien where the Alien avoids her because she’s pregnant. Personally, that was the inspiration when the glass door opens and you have the zombie face-to-face with Gerry and then walking by. I enjoyed that.

I believed in this ending more than anything. What I also liked about it was every summer blockbuster is trying in the third act is to do a bigger set piece that’s bigger and louder than what you’ve seen in the rest of the movie. I felt going against the grain and doing something more quiet and simple will be so much interesting and refreshing and something that we’re not used to. I was excited coming from a concept standpoint that everybody was willing to go there and not be like everybody else and do this big battle set piece, which was huge and loud and long; that we would go and take it in this smaller more quieter space.”

It’s fascinating to get a peek into how the final act of the film evolved, as they kept the twisty discovery intact but completely changed how it came about. What did you think of the theatrical ending? Would you have preferred a huge zombie faceoff in Russia?