Details Emerge about Original Ending and Other Changes to WORLD WAR Z; Paramount Developing Sequel

     June 23, 2013


Last year, word leaked out that production on World War Z had spiraled out of control.  This cloud hung over the film through the reshoots and the press tour, but the zombie action flick weathered the storm to end up grossing an impressive $66 million domestically over the weekend.  It’s the biggest opening weekend for producer and star Brad Pitt, and it looks like Paramount is happy to have a new franchise.  THR reports that the studio, unsurprisingly, is developing a sequel.  Ironically, part of the reason for the reshoots was because the original movie was too bent on setting up future installments rather than telling the immediate story.

Hit the jump for to learn the original ending of the film and the changes screenwriters Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard made to the picture. [Warning: spoilers ahead]

world-war-z-poster-3According to Huffington Post, Lindelof and Goddard wrote the new ending, but they also added some much-needed human moments in a movie that still has too few of them.  The following scenes were added to World War Z:

  • Gerry Lane (Pitt) and his wife, Karin (Mireille Enos), being awakened by their daughters, Rachel and Constance.
  • The family in the kitchen eating breakfast as reports of the first “rabies” (i.e. zombie) outbreak is announced on the television.
  • Lane, who is driving the family from Philadelphia to Newark, New Jersey, in a commandeered RV, has to pull over to treat Rachel’s asthma attack.
  • Lane phones Karen during a plane ride from South Korea to Jerusalem.

And then there’s the new ending.  The turning point is when Gerry and Israeli soldier Segen (Daniella Kertesz) are on the plane fleeing Israel.  In the final cut, the plane crashes after an on-board outbreak, Gerry and Segen survive, drag themselves to a World Health Organization facility, and our hero discovers that the secret to surviving the apocalypse is to become sick with a serious virus like meningitis because zombies can sense illness and will avoid “weak prey”.  The film ends with Gerry sending out the word that everyone should infect themselves with a non-lethal but still threatening disease, and thus become invisible to the undead.  Gerry is reunited with his family, who were living in a refugee camp in Nova Scotia.  Making sure not to kill any franchise potential, Gerry says in voice over that the war hasn’t been won yet and the fight is just beginning.

The original ending was dark beyond all reason, especially when you consider this was always going to be a PG-13 movie due to the budget required by the scale of the action.  According to, the plane leaving Israel was headed towards Moscow, it arrives there safely, and then shit gets crazy:

world-war-z-brad-pitt-mireille-enosThe elderly and the sick are executed and the healthy people, including a very shaken Gerry, are immediately drafted into armed service, though not before one particularly nasty Russian soldier takes Gerry’s cell phone. The story then jumps forward an unknown amount of time and we catch up with Gerry, who now has a full beard and has been a part of Russia’s zombie-clearing squad at least long enough for it to have changed to winter. He looks almost dead inside, but the reality is that over this time he’s become an experienced and ruthless zombie killer, and he’s the leader of his own equally capable unit.

Even without Lindelof and Goddard’s family-time additions, this turn is darker than anything that came before.  It almost feels like the original writers were aware of The Walking Dead, and wanted to one-up the AMC TV series/comic book in the willingness to depress the hell out of the audience.

I encourage you to click over to to read their full synopsis of the ending, but to run through the major plot points: Gerry discovers that cold is what stops the zombies, and he tells the Russian general that they need to put out the fires, huddle up, and let Russia win the war the same way it always wins wars: letting the hostile weather take care of invaders.  Zombies freeze, Russian forces plus Gerry and Segen win, and then it’s on home to the family…except not.

Do you remember the paratrooper who helps rescue Gerry and his family from the building rooftop?  If that guy looked like Matthew Fox, it’s because he was Matthew Fox in a role that was almost completely excised from the picture.  In the original ending, Karin has shacked up with Fox’s character in the Everglades because they’re in a camp where you have to trade to survive, and since Karin apparently has no skills whatsoever and everyone at Paramount forgot that a big tentpole film shouldn’t be a total bummer, she sells her body.  She doesn’t explicitly tell Gerry this when he calls her to tell her about how cold will stop the zombies, but Fox’s character calls him back and says Gerry should just create a new life for because Karin is now Random Paratrooper’s woman.  The movie ends with Gerry, Segen, and Gerry’s friend from the Russian military, Simon, crossing the globe and coming back to America to get Gerry his family back.  They arrive in the U.S., and the film ends with Gerry many miles and at least one movie away from his goal.  I didn’t like World War Z, but reading over these changes, the original product could have been so much worse.

Again, I strongly encourage you to read’s report, which also mentions how the script had brought in the “Lobo” from the novel.


  • Andrew

    Good god. That’s pretty damn hilarious. I mean, the finished product is still pretty mediocre, but damn.

  • NMphotog

    Give me $5k to pay off my student loan and I’ll pen the sequel. My crap is much cheaper. It will cost less than Brad Pitt’s flight to eastern Europe for scenes that never ended up in the finished movie.

    Oh and asthma attack. LOL. Stolen from Mann’s the Insider.

  • Hari

    That ending sounds wretched… in a lot of ways I prefer the “Hollywoodness” of the finished product. I can’t even believe that something like that would be approved… it sounds brutal and beyond rough.

  • ScaredForMovies

    So meningitis scares zombies away? That’s hilarious. What about STD’s? Lindeloff strikes again. I can’t stop laughing.

    • 80sRobot

      I propose a term to describe a screenplay that has been doctored heavily with eye-rolling plot points: Lindelof’ed.

    • Strong Enough

      apart from the original ending? yeah thats pretty good

  • Saltonstall

    “If that guy looked like Matthew Fox, it’s because he was Matthew Fox.” I’m not usually a fan of Matt’s journalism, but kudos on that one, it made me laugh.

  • cloud720

    That movie sounds fucking awesome. That was on some game of thrones type depressing shit. I am sick of these damn happy Hollywood endings.

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  • Alan Burnett


    I hate the film. But I hate the other ending more. I LIKE HATING THINGS.

    • Chachi

      Except indie’s and pixar films.

      • Alan Burnett

        Nah, he’ll shit on the little film that could because it doesn’t fit his arbitrary and immature concept of what is entertainment.

      • Strong Enough

        hey still have your period?

      • Alan Burnett


      • Strong Enough

        don’t forget the tampon

  • Nick Erickson

    Yeah, this would have been awful. It would have suffered from the same thing that 28 Days Later suffered from: the complete plot of the film changing on a dime. The new ending stay focused on the general plot.

  • Tim_Bucktoo

    The finished product still lacked a 3rd act.

  • thatguy

    I would have a much better opinion of this movie if they would just let it be and NOT try to turn it into another bloated franchise. Really, what the heck is left? It was all tied up pretty nicely and frankly I don’t think ANYONE really cares enough about any of these characters to want to see them again. But I guess Damon Lindelof has got to keep himself busy since they haven’t offered him Star Wars yet… be afraid…

  • dregj

    i think i would have actually preferred the original ending it would have sucked less balls than the current version of this mess.did we really need to see his wife every two second when he was doing something dangerous?nice way to undercut the tension there .was there any point in having a bidding war for the rights to a book they didnt even adapt?

    • CosMos8


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  • ped

    1st hour was awesome. The facility part was great. They just needed more juice towards the end. Really cool movie I thought.

  • ska7triumph

    Good summary. I coudn’t believe it was that dark – even though it was exciting when reading Carnahan’s draft.
    Yet it’s understandably silly that the actual world-building of the family was added by Lindelof and Goddard, and it still didn’t work. Every moment was too idyllic, then forced to reckon with beyond reason. The asthma angle was ridiculous, like the terror wasn’t enough – someone has to have an illness. Pure TV BS to tack on and throughout the story.

    Gerry seemed just retired and yet absolutely clueless on the dilemma. No person THAT good would stay out of the loop – even if he had to get intel on the downlow. Conveniently Philly had to have havoc BEFORE he got the UN call…

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