World War Z has now become one of the most anticipated action/horror films in recent years, but could it spell the end of Zombies as a popular genre?
There is no denying the anticipation surrounding the upcoming World War Z film. Ever since it was announced that Max Brooks book of the same name was going to be turned into a film, zombie fans across the globe crossed their legs with excitement. Yet ever since then, the buzz surrounding the film has been mainly negative; with trials and tribulations seemingly never-ending on set. Could all this negativity lead to the end of the zombie genre or is it simply a case of Hollywood trying something they weren’t prepared for?
Zombies have been popular for well over 10 years now. In fact, they have been the weirdly erotic fetish of “nerds” for even longer. If you have had a discussion on how your group of friends would survive the apocalypse or what is better: fast or slow zombies (authors note: fast zombies are just a ridiculous idea), then you are probably a zombie fan. The genre is well and truly niche. Yet it seems as though big entertainment bosses, with embarrassingly sized watches, have seen the potential of the genre and are trying to take it mainstream, reaching an audience that ordinarily wouldn’t care.
Zombies have only really been used in small, one-off films and have never really been there to be taken seriously. Films like Shaun of the Dead, I Am Legend and 28 Days Later are some of the best
zombie films of all time but were never really making a huge amount of money, with some even recording losses. More recent attempts at the zombie genre have been more successful. Zombieland was a critical and financial success (because Emma Stone) and AMC’s The Walking Dead is now one of the most successful TV shows of all time. Yet The Walking Dead could very well be the peak of the zombie bell curve, with any more attempts to make zombies mainstream becoming more damaging to the genre than helpful.
This is where World War Z comes in. This is the first attempt to make a huge Hollywood blockbuster from zombies. (If you invest $400 million and stick Brad Pitt front and centre, what else can you call it?) It was recently reported that the huge production costs could make WWZ the most expensive movie flop of all time. So many problems have been cited behind the scenes, including a complete re-shoot of the 40 minute third act, that Hollywood could well see zombies as no longer financially viable, meaning the death of zombies in the film world. Whilst it is likely that zombies will continue to be used in smaller scale films (authors note: I’m holding out for a Cockneys vs Zombies 2), the genre could well have peaked and Hollywood would seek out the next fad to exploit.
There is also the argument that the zombies will no longer be the roots of the nerds tree (or some other appalling metaphor). As the expression goes, if everyone has super powers, then no one has super powers. The success of the zombie genre is down to its loyal fan base and there is a fear that, if zombies become more mainstream, then the loyal fan base would disappear.
The future of the zombie genre could very well depend on the success/failure of World War Z. Yet its always worth remembering that one of the most critically acclaimed zombie films of all time was Colin, and that was filmed on a digital camera for £45.