World War Z (2013)


World War Z (2013)

Life for former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane and his family seems content. Suddenly, the world is plagued by a mysterious infection turning whole human populations into rampaging mindless zombies. After barely escaping the chaos, Lane is persuaded to go on a mission to investigate this disease. What follows is a perilous trek around the world where Lane must brave horrific dangers and long odds to find answers before human civilization falls.
IMDb   7.0 /10
Metacritic   63 %
TheMovieDb    6.8 /10
FilmAffinity   6.1 /10
Release Date2013-06-19
Runtime1h 56mins
GenreAction, Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi
Content RatingPG-13 (PG-13)
Awards3 wins & 25 nominations.
CompanyParamount Pictures, Skydance Media, Hemisphere Media Capital
CountryUSA, UK, Malta
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic
Gerry Lane
Jurgen Warmbrunn
Thierry Umutoni
Ex-CIA Agent
Andrew Fassbach
W.H.O. Doctor
W.H.O. Doctor
Constance Lane

World War Z (film)

World War Z is a 2013 American action horror film directed by Marc Forster, with a screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, and Damon Lindelof, from a story by Carnahan and J. Michael Straczynski, based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Max Brooks. The film stars Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a former United Nations investigator who travels the world gathering clues to find a way to stop a zombie pandemic. The ensemble supporting cast includes Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, Ludi Boeken, Fana Mokoena, David Morse, Peter Capaldi, Pierfrancesco Favino, Ruth Negga, and David Andrews.

Pitt's Plan B Entertainment secured the film rights in 2007; Straczynski was approached to write and Forster was approached to direct. In 2009, Carnahan was hired to rewrite the script. Filming began in July 2011 in Malta, on an estimated $125 million budget, before moving to Glasgow in August 2011 and Budapest in October 2011. Originally set for a December 2012 release, the production suffered some setbacks. In June 2012, the film's release date was pushed back, and the crew returned to Budapest for seven weeks of additional shooting. Damon Lindelof was hired to rewrite the third act, but did not have time to finish the script, and Drew Goddard was hired to rewrite it. The reshoots took place between September and October 2012, ballooning the budget to a reported $190 million, although some publications have listed it as high as $269 million.

World War Z premiered in London on June 3, 2013, and was chosen to open the 35th Moscow International Film Festival. The film premiered in New York, and Los Angeles on June 14, 2013, and released everywhere on June 21, 2013, in the United States, in 2D and RealD 3D. The film received positive reviews for Brad Pitt's performance and as a realistic revival of the zombie genre, but garnered criticism for the anti-climax, outdated CGI, and lack of faithfulness to the source material. Regardless, the film was a commercial success, grossing over $540 million against a production budget of $190 million, becoming the highest-grossing zombie film of all time. A sequel was announced shortly after the film's release, but in February 2019 it was cancelled, reportedly due to budget issues.


Former UN agent Gerry Lane, his wife Karin, and their two young daughters, Rachel and Connie, are in heavy Philadelphia traffic when the city is overrun by zombies. As chaos spreads, the Lanes escape to Newark, New Jersey and take refuge in an apartment with a couple and their young son Tommy, though they are forced to escape with Tommy when a horde of zombies attack the apartment and his parents are infected. UN Deputy Secretary-General Thierry Umutoni, an old friend of Gerry, sends a helicopter that extracts the Lanes to a U.S. Navy vessel in the Atlantic Ocean where scientists and military personnel are analyzing the worldwide outbreaks. Andrew Fassbach, a young virologist, insists that the plague is a virus and that the development of a vaccine depends on finding the origin. Gerry is told he and his family will be evicted unless he helps Fassbach find the outbreak source.

Gerry, Fassbach, and a small SEAL escort fly to Camp Humphreys, a military base in South Korea, but zombies attack. Fassbach turns to enter the aircraft, slips and accidentally shoots himself and dies. Surviving American soldiers at the camp rescue the team and Gerry learns the infection was introduced to the base by its doctor. A former CIA operative imprisoned at the base sends Gerry to Jerusalem, where the Mossad set up a safe zone before the outbreak was officially acknowledged.

In Jerusalem, Gerry meets Mossad chief Jurgen Warmbrunn. Months earlier, the Mossad had intercepted Indian military transmissions describing troops fighting zombies, prompting them to erect huge walls around Jerusalem. While Warmbrunn escorts Gerry around the city, the loud celebratory singing from the refugees prompts the zombies to scale the wall and overrun the city. Warmbrunn orders Israeli soldiers to escort Gerry back to his plane. On the way, Gerry notices zombies ignoring an old man and an emaciated boy. Soon after, one of Gerry's escorts, identifying herself only as "Segen" is bitten in the hand; Gerry quickly amputates her hand to prevent infection. The pair are able to make it out alive on a commercial airliner.

Gerry radios Thierry, who diverts the flight to a WHO lab in Cardiff. Nearing approach, a stowaway zombie is discovered on the plane, and the majority of the passengers are quickly infected. Gerry uses a grenade to rupture the cabin of the plane and eject the zombies, but this results in the plane crashing. Gerry and Segen survive the crash, and are able to make their way to the lab. Gerry explains his theory to the scientists that the zombies ignore weak, terminally ill, and severely injured people as they are unsuitable hosts of infection. He then suggests that they inject themselves with a deadly pathogen to act as a camouflage. The scientists point out that their pathogens are located in a zombie infested area of the lab. Gerry, Segen and a WHO doctor fight their way through the lab, and Gerry finds himself in a room with the pathogens. But, as he attempts to leave with the pathogens, a lone zombie appears behind the door and blocks Gerry's only means of escape, forcing him to inject himself with one of the pathogens. His theory is proven correct when he allows the zombie into the room and it does not notice him, allowing him to bypass the rest of the zombies in the lab.

Gerry and Segen reach a safe zone at Freeport, Nova Scotia. A new vaccine is developed which allows people to bypass the zombies once taken, thus allowing offensives to be taken against the zombies. In the end, Gerry finds and embraces his family: Karin, Rachel, Connie, and Tommy, who is accepted to the family.


  • Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a former UN field agent called back to duty to investigate a zombie pandemic to protect his wife and children
  • Mireille Enos as Karin Lane, Gerry Lane's wife and Rachel and Connie's mother
  • Daniella Kertesz as “Segen”, an IDF soldier ("Segen" is an IDF rank equivalent to a Lieutenant).
  • James Badge Dale as Captain Speke, a US Army Ranger
  • Ludi Boeken as Jurgen Warmbrunn, chief of the Mossad
  • Matthew Fox as a USAF Pararescuemen sent to extract the Lane family
  • Fana Mokoena as Thierry Umutoni, a United Nations Deputy Secretary-General and old friend of Gerry Lane
  • David Morse as an Ex-CIA officer who was imprisoned for assisting North Korea's offensive on the zombies
  • Elyes Gabel as Andrew Fassbach, a young virologist
  • Pierfrancesco Favino as a WHO doctor
  • Ruth Negga as a WHO doctor
  • Moritz Bleibtreu as a WHO doctor
  • Peter Capaldi as a WHO doctor
  • Sterling Jerins as Constance "Connie" Lane, Gerry and Karin's younger daughter and Rachel's younger sister
  • Abigail Hargrove as Rachel Lane, Gerry and Karin's older daughter and Connie's older sister
  • David Andrews as Commander Mullenaro aboard a U.N. vessel analyzing the outbreak
  • Mark Holden as UN Delegate
  • Michiel Huisman as Ellis, a US Army Ranger working for Speke
  • Eric Michels as Staff Sargeant James
  • Zacharee Guido as Tommy, a young orphan Hispanic boy who is rescued and taken in by the Lane family.
  • Ernesto Cantu as Tommy's father



After a bidding war with Leonardo DiCaprio's production company Appian Way, Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment secured the screen rights to the novel in 2007. The first screenplay was written by Babylon 5 and Rising Stars creator J. Michael Straczynski, who identified the challenge in adapting the work as "creating a main character out of a book that reads as a UN report on the zombie wars." Marc Forster signed on to direct, and described the film as reminiscent of 1970s conspiracy thrillers like All the President's Men. Straczynski identified 2002 spy film The Bourne Identity as an appropriate comparison, and noted that the film would have a large international scope which maintained the political emphasis. When asked about his involvement with the film, author Max Brooks stated that he had "zero control", but favored a role for Brad Pitt, and expressed approval for Straczynski as screenwriter. Brooks said: "I can't give it away, but Straczynski found a way to tie it all together. The last draft I read was amazing."

An early script was leaked onto the internet in March 2008, leading to a review by Ain't It Cool News which called it " just a good adaptation of a difficult book a genre-defining piece of work that could well see us all arguing about whether or not a zombie movie qualifies as 'Best Picture' material". The script was well-enough respected to find a place on the 2007 Black List of "most liked" screenplays not yet produced. The Ain't It Cool News review also noted the film appears stylistically similar to Children of Men, following Gerry Lane as he travels the post-war world and interviews survivors of the zombie war who are "starting to wonder if survival is a victory of any kind." Straczynski had hoped that the film would begin production by the start of 2009. In March 2009, Forster said that the script was still in development and he was not sure if World War Z would be his next film. Later in March, rumors surfaced that production offices were set up and the film was in early pre-production. In June 2009, Marc Forster told an interviewer that the film would be delayed, stating that the film's script still needs a lot of development and is "still far from realization".

In July 2009, Brooks revealed that the script was being re-written by Matthew Michael Carnahan. Brooks believed that this "show confidence in this project" because of the amount of money that was being invested in it. Paramount Pictures and UTV Motion Pictures announced at the 2010 Comic-Con that Forster was set as director, and Brad Pitt was confirmed to play the lead role. In March 2011, it was reported that Paramount was searching for co-financier, and would likely pull the plug on the adaptation without one. The article also stated that "an eleventh-hour effort is being made to court frequent Paramount co-financier David Ellison." A week later, it was reported that "hot and heavy talks are going on with David Ellison's Skydance and as many as two other financiers."


Pre-production began in April 2011 with Robert Richardson announced as the cinematographer and Nigel Phelps as production designer. In the same month it was reported that filming locations would include Pinewood Studios and London, England. Also in April, Mireille Enos was cast as Gerry Lane's wife and mother of their two children. In June 2011, James Badge Dale entered negotiations to join the film as an American soldier who tries to alert authorities that the zombie threat is real. It was also reported that filming would begin in Malta in July 2011 and would encompass Valletta and The Three Cities. A few days later Matthew Fox and Ed Harris entered talks while Julia Levy-Boeken was set to join the film. It was also reported that filming would also take place in Glasgow, Scotland, in August 2011. Glasgow would double as Philadelphia, "with false shop fronts being constructed and American cars on the roads." The city was reportedly chosen after "many months looking for the perfect city centre location to play an important part in the film." Philadelphia was passed on due to "uncertainties about state tax credits for filmmakers." Filming was originally planned to take place in Royal Tunbridge Wells, England before moving to Glasgow. Later in June, visual effects house Cinesite announced that it would work on "a significant amount of shots". At the end of the month it was reported that neither Matthew Fox nor Ed Harris would be starring in the film despite previous reports: Fox had a scheduling conflict stemming from his prior commitment to star in Alex Cross with Tyler Perry at Summit Entertainment. Fox was later spotted, filming scenes in Falmouth, Cornwall. Cinematographer Richardson reportedly had asked to leave the production.


On a budget of $125 million, World War Z began principal photography in July 2011 in Malta, with the first images of production being released a few days later. Filming was scheduled to move to Glasgow, Scotland, in August with the production company looking to recruit 2,000 local extras for the shoot. At least 3,000 people showed up at a casting call in Glasgow on July 9, hoping for the opportunity to appear in a scene set in a financial district in Philadelphia. Scenes were also shot in Falmouth, Cornwall. Also in July 2011, Game of Thrones actor Elyes Gabel was cast as a character named Fassbach. Despite opposition from residents, some scenes were shot on the Heygate Estate in South London.

In August 2011, Bryan Cranston entered negotiations to join the film in a "small but flashy" role but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Also in August, filming was set to take place along a road on the perimeter of the Grangemouth Refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland. The location was chosen for the length of the road which is crucial to the shot. A few days later Paramount announced the film would be released on December 21, 2012. Later in the same month, filming began in Glasgow. The location manager for the film said Glasgow had been chosen because of its architecture, wide roads, and grid layout. Scenes were also filmed aboard the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Argus, before the Glasgow shoot. The ship was turned into the "USS Madison", which involved stenciling a new pennant number on to the funnel, as well as adding some "Americanism" to the superstructure. Steven McMenemy, the Argus's navigator said, "The ship sailed and we were joined by four small catamarans which were being used as markers for the cameras, so that warships could be added in with CGI later." In October 2011, David Morse was cast as a "prisoner living in an abandoned jail."

The filmmakers initially intended to film a climactic battle scene set in Russia, and the crew moved to Budapest to film it there. Filming in Budapest commenced on the evening of October 10, 2011. That morning, the Hungarian Counter Terrorism Centre raided the warehouse where guns had been delivered for use as filming props. The 85 assault rifles, sniper rifles, and handguns had been flown into Budapest overnight on a private aircraft, but the film's producers had failed to clear the delivery with Hungarian authorities, and while the import documentation indicated that the weapons had been disabled, all were found to be fully functional. On February 10, 2012, the charges were dropped after investigators were unable to identify exactly which "organization or person" had "ownership rights"; therefore they could not "establish which party was criminally liable". Principal photography wrapped on November 4, 2011.


In June 2012, screenwriter Damon Lindelof was hired to rewrite the film's third act with reshoots scheduled to begin in September or October 2012. Lindelof was brought in as a new set of eyes not burdened by all the history of the script, "He (Brad Pitt) took me through how excited he was when he read the book, what was exciting for him, the geopolitical aspect of it. But when we started working on the script, a lot of that stuff had to fall away for the story to come together." However, Lindelof, who also reworked Prometheus and co-wrote Star Trek Into Darkness, did not have time to script the new ending and in July 2012, Paramount hired Lindelof's Lost partner, Drew Goddard. Lindelof explained there were inefficiencies in the script in relation to the shooting, which started before the script was finalized thus making the ending "abrupt and incoherent" and was missing a large chunk of footage. Lindelof presented two options to executives, who ultimately chose to shoot 30 to 40 minutes of additional footage to make a coherent ending. Goddard later told Creative Screenwriting, "To me the big lesson of World War Z was that Paramount, Plan B and Brad Pitt simply said, 'Let's take the time to make this movie the best version of the movie before we put it on the screen for audience.' That doesn't happen a lot. A lot of times they just throw the movie out there and say, 'We'll make all our money opening weekend and then the movie will go away.' I came away from it thinking, 'Why don't we do this on more movies?'"

The re-shoots coupled with other overages caused the budget to balloon to around $190 million, which shocked Paramount president Marc Evans. Several of the scenes shot in Budapest, including a large-scale battle with the zombies in Moscow's Red Square, were dropped from the final cut in order to water down the film's political undertones, and steer it towards a more generally friendly summer blockbuster. The climactic battle scene in Russia, for which there was 12 minutes of footage, had Pitt's character fighting through zombies more like "a warrior hero" than "the sympathetic family man" of the earlier acts. The second-unit director, Simon Crane, said, "It wasn't character-driven anymore... really needed to think about what they wanted to do with the third act." Additional scenes were also filmed at the Pfizer building at Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent for scenes where Gerry tries to find a cure for the zombie pandemic.

In March 2013, it was reported that Paramount changed a scene in the film in which the characters speculate that the zombie outbreak originated in mainland China in hopes of landing a distribution deal in the country. An executive familiar with upcoming releases in China later told TheWrap in June 2013 that a cut of the film was rejected by Chinese censors. A Paramount executive contended that he was "unaware of any rejection", explaining, "We have submitted one version and have yet to receive a response."


In December 2011, it was reported that Marco Beltrami had signed on to score World War Z. In May 2013, the British rock band Muse posted a video on their YouTube channel, hinting that they would be contributing to the soundtrack of World War Z; the song "The 2nd Law: Isolated System" and the instrumental version of "Follow Me" (produced by the electronic band Nero) were used. In June, Warner Bros. Records released the soundtrack album for the film, which featured the original score composed by Beltrami.

World War Z: Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Marco Beltrami
ReleasedJune 18, 2013
LabelWarner Bros. Records
World War Z: Music from the Motion Picture
2."The Lane Family"2:47
3."Ninja Quiet"2:54
4."Searching for Clues"5:33
5."NJ Mart"4:01
6."Zombies in Coach"3:43
7."Hand Off!"2:49
8."No Teeth No Bite"3:25
9."The Salvation Gates"4:24
11."Like a River Around a Rock"5:08
Total length:44:09


World War Z was initially scheduled for release by Paramount and Skydance on December 21, 2012, but in March 2012 it was pushed back to June 21, 2013. Paramount elected to release Jack Reacher on the December 2012 date. The world premiere of World War Z was held at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square, London on June 2, 2013. On June 6, Pitt attended screenings of the film in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago and Austin all in one day. The film was chosen to open the 35th Moscow International Film Festival. World War Z was released exclusively to Glasgow's Grosvenor Cinema in Ashton Lane on June 19, two days before it was launched worldwide. Paramount spent $160 million marketing the film worldwide.


Box office

World War Z grossed $202.4 million in North America, and $337.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $540 million. Variety called it a "bona-fide box office hit", although Deadline Hollywood said that the film "barely broke even".

In North America, World War Z earned $25.2 million on its opening day, including $3.6 million from Thursday night and midnight shows. It went on to finish in second place behind Monsters University during its opening weekend with $66.4 million. It was the second-largest opening weekend for a film that did not debut in first place (behind The Day After Tomorrow), the largest opening weekend for a film starring Brad Pitt and the sixth-largest opening among films released in June.

In other territories, the film earned $5.7 million on its opening day (Thursday, June 20, 2013) and $45.8 million on its opening weekend, ranking in third place.

Critical response

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, World War Z has a 66% approval rating, based on 273 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "It's uneven and diverges from the source book, but World War Z still brings smart, fast-moving thrills and a solid performance from Brad Pitt to the zombie genre." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on reviews from 46 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A to F.

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a 3.5 out of 4, saying "It's entertaining as hell" and it provides "nearly non-stop action". Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film a 3 out of 4, saying that "the suspense is killer". Henry Barnes of The Guardian considered World War Z an "attempt at large-scale seriousness" in the zombie genre, which resulted in a "punchy, if conventional action thriller." Writing for Variety, Scott Foundas thought the film to be a "surprisingly smart, gripping and imaginative addition to the zombie-movie canon", which shows "few visible signs of the massive rewrites, reshoots and other post-production patchwork." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter opined that "Brad Pitt delivers a capable performance in an immersive apocalyptic spectacle about a global zombie uprising." A. O. Scott of The New York Times said, " does not try to extend the boundaries of commercial entertainment but does what it can to find interesting ways to pass the time within them." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times remarked, "World War Z plays a bit like a series of separate films and the juncture where the new final act was grafted onto the proceedings is unmistakable, but unless you knew about the film's troubled past, you'd never guess it existed."

Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News said that World War Z "is no summer thriller. It's an anemic actioner that fosters excitement like dead limbs as it lumbers toward a conclusion." Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph thought that the film had been affected by its troubled development, observing that "the final product has an elaborate uselessness about it", in a film that has "no heart to be found amid the guts." Alonso Duralde of TheWrap said, "For all its effectiveness at portraying the horror of possible human extinction, the film's actual humans are so soulless that this could just as well be the movie version of the video game Plants vs. Zombies."


2013Fright Meter AwardsBest Special EffectsWorld War ZNominated
Golden Schmoes AwardsBest Horror Movie of the YearWorld War ZNominated
Biggest Surprise of the YearWorld War ZNominated
Golden Trailer AwardsSummer 2013 Blockbuster TrailerWorld War ZNominated
Best Summer Block Buster 2013 TV SpotWorld War ZNominated
Hollywood Film AwardsHollywood Movie AwardMarc ForsterNominated
IGN Summer Movie AwardsBest Horror MovieWorld War ZNominated
Key Art AwardsBest Horror MovieWorld War ZNominated
Rondo Hatton Classic Horror AwardsBest Audio/Visual TechniqueParamount Pictures, Big Picture EntertainmentNominated
Satellite AwardsBest Visual EffectsAndrew R. Jones, Jessica Norman, Matt Johnson, Scott FarrarNominated
Teen Choice AwardsChoice Summer Movie: Action/AdventureWorld War ZNominated
201440th Saturn AwardsBest Thriller FilmWorld War ZWon
35th Young Artist AwardsBest Leading Young Actress in a Feature FilmAbigail HargroveNominated

Home media

The film was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on September 24, 2013. The Blu-ray Disc contains an unrated cut. It adds seven minutes of additional footage featuring moderate amounts of blood, gore and violence. Some scenes already present in the theatrical cut are also extended.

Video games

A video game tie-in survival horror game, World War Z, was developed by Phosphor Games Studio and released for the iOS mobile platforms in May 2013. The game is a spin-off of the film, being set in New York, Tokyo, Moscow, Israel, and Paris, and featuring an entirely different set of characters.

In April 2019, Saber Interactive released a four-player video game, also named World War Z, for PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One, which includes missions set around the world.

Cancelled sequel

In January 2012, director Forster and Paramount said that "They each view World War Z as a trilogy that would have the grounded, gun-metal realism of Matt Damon's Jason Bourne series tethered to the unsettling end-times vibe of AMC's The Walking Dead". Plans for future installments were shelved due to the film's production troubles.

In June 2013, after the successful opening of World War Z, Paramount announced that it was moving ahead with a sequel. In December 2013, it was reported that Juan Antonio Bayona had been chosen to direct the film. In May 2014, Steven Knight was set to write the script. In May 2015, it was announced that the film would be released on June 9, 2017, but in January 2016, Paramount announced that director Bayona left the project due to other commitments. In August 2016, Variety reported that the film was not yet in production and that David Fincher had entered negotiations to be the director, and in April 2017 it was reported Fincher was close to a deal to sign on. On February 8, 2017, Paramount announced that the sequel has still not started filming and would not be released until 2018 or possibly even 2019.

In June 2017, Fincher was confirmed by Paramount as the director of the sequel, with Brad Pitt returning to his role. Filming was slated to start in fall of 2018, though this changed as Fincher was working on his television series Mindhunter. In October 2018, producer Dede Gardner confirmed that the sequel would begin filming in June 2019. However, in February 2019, the film was cancelled after several months of pre-production and staffing for principal photography in five countries. According to a source quoted by The Hollywood Reporter, the Chinese government's ban on films featuring zombies or ghosts was the single biggest reason that Paramount canceled the sequel.