2013 Most Valuable Blockbuster – #5 ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Vs. #12 ‘World War Z’; #4 ‘Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ Vs. #13 ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’

Mike Fleming

Hunger Games Catching Fire Hobbit Smaug ProfitThe second of four posts today in Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament. The subsequent rounds will play out next week.

Other Matchups:
#1 ‘Iron Man 3′ Vs. #16 ‘The Conjuring’
#2 ‘Frozen’ Vs. #15 ‘The Great Gatsby’
#3 ‘Despicable Me 2′ Vs. #14 Star Trek Into Darkness’
#6 ‘Fast & Furious 6′ Vs. #11 ‘The Croods’
#7 ‘Monsters University’ Vs. #10 ‘Thor: The Dark World’
#8 ‘Gravity’ Vs. #9 ‘Man Of Steel’





HungerGames-WWZHow They Got Here: Talk about two completely paths to success. When Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was released last Thanksgiving, the only question was how high Katniss Everdeen would soar. She didn’t disappoint, as the film blew past the holiday record for three-day and five-day totals, and it was just about as strong domestically as it was foreign. Contrast that to World War Z, the Marc Forster-directed Brad Pitt- survives-a-zombie-plague movie had all kinds of troubles during its production, and the last act of the movie got scrapped after it was shot because test audiences and Paramount Pictures didn’t like it. It was redrafted and reshot. That added $20 million or more to an already highWorldWarZ budget, but worse, the buzz around the film was that it was going to be awful. Surprise. The film’s ending worked very well, and the action shots of zombies collectively swarming over walls like insects made it the most visually compelling zombie film since Night Of The Living Dead. Is that enough to topple The Hunger Games sequel?

The Bottom Line: When it was released, many thought Catching Fire would burn long enough to surpass the billion-dollar gross mark. It didn’t come that close with an $864 million worldwide gross, but it did improve upon the first film’s tally, which is exactly what the second leg of a continuing story is supposed to do. Considering all its hardships, World War Z is lucky just to be in this tournament. Usually, when you hear a film is going to be a train wreck, it usually turns out to be just that. Catching Fire Box officeIt was laudable to see a studio be willing to pull a film out of a prime release slot, and throw more money into it to rescue it, even if naysayers questioned why it took everybody that long to realize it didn’t work and needed to be fixed. Paramount was happy enough with the results to put elements on a sequel, even if that became creatively complicated by the first film essentially solving the zombie problem.

The Winner: It’s Hunger Games in a walk. Our experts peg the World War Z budget around $269 million, though Paramount argues it was considerably less. Tack on another $160 million to market it, and Pitt’s first-dollar gross deal, and, according to our experts, this film barely broke even. You don’t invest $430 million to make and market a film just to break even, especially when it became the biggest opening of a film starring Pitt, and the biggest-grossing film in his career. Good luck on that sequel. Read More »

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OSCARS: Which Visual Effects Contenders Can Fight ‘Gravity’s Pull?

Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor.

Gravity Oscars vfxExpect Gravity to be as powerful and inevitable a force in the visual-effects category at this year’s Oscars as, well, gravity. Offering more than just snazzy visuals — about 95% of what’s on screen is digital — Gravity’s visual-effects supervisor Tim Webber fulfilled many artists’ dreams by working from the start with director Alfonso Cuaron and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki to completely embed the effects into the storytelling and filmmaking process.

The space drama also has some serious cachet as a more artistic use of effects — a quality Academy voters have AwardsLinerewarded recently with trophies for Life of Pi, Hugo and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. With Gravity offering a seemingly irresistible complete package, it looks as if the other nine Academy short-list contenders will just have to aspire to impress the effects branch enough at the Jan. 9 bake-off to score one of five Oscar nominations on Jan. 16.

In addition to Gravity, the short list includes Elysium, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Oblivion, Star Trek Into Darkness, Thor: The Dark World, Pacific Rim and World War Z. The most obvious question about the list is: How did the year’s highest-profile boxoffice dud, The Lone Ranger, make the cut and Man of Steel did not? Read More »

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Paramount Moving Forward On ‘World War Z’ With Helmer Juan Antonio Bayona

By | Tuesday December 10, 2013 @ 3:31pm PST
Mike Fleming

wwzJ.A. Bayona helmed the monsoon disaster pic The Impossible, but he might be taking on something close to that title as Paramount and Skydance have signed him to oversee figuring out a sequel to World War Z. The first … Read More »

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Paramount Bundling ‘World War Z’ And ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ As Double Feature

By | Tuesday August 27, 2013 @ 6:10pm PDT

World War Z Star Trek Into Darkness Double FeatureThe studio plans to squeeze more life out of its undead hit and space sequel. Paramount and a clutch of exhibitors are going back to the future for a … Read More »

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

By | Sunday August 18, 2013 @ 11:00am PDT

These are the top film stories that Deadline ran this week: 

‘Elysium’ #1 But Can’t Break $30M, ‘The Millers’ #2, ‘Planes’ #3, ‘Percy Jackson: Monsters’ #4; ‘Smurfs 2′ Now $156M Read More »

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Brad Pitt, Paramount Get The Last Laugh As ‘World War Z’ Cracks $500 Million WW To Become His Highest Grossing Film

By | Sunday August 11, 2013 @ 2:42pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Paramount Pictures reports that World War Z had passed the $500 million worldwide gross mark, surpassing Troy’s $497.3 million to become Brad Pitt’s highest grossing film ever. Now, you could argue that WWZ received the benefit of … Read More »

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Viacom CEO Says Flood Of Summer Tentpoles Hurt Film Profits

Philippe Dauman jumped on the bandwagon of media execs lamenting the oversupply of big-budget films competing with each other this summer. Although he told analysts this morning that Viacom will see Read More »

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Viacom Earnings Rise With Help From ‘Star Trek’ As It Doubles Share Repurchase Plan

The devil’s going to be in the details for investors who want to see from the latest earnings report how basic operations performed in the June quarter without help from two successful tentpole films (Star Trek Into Darkness and World War Z), and a streaming deal with Read More »

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Fleming Rants On Why Studios Can’t Launch Franchises Anymore, Leaving Us With Retreads Like ‘The Mummy’

By | Thursday August 1, 2013 @ 7:03am PDT
Mike Fleming

Universal has confirmed that Len Wiseman has dropped off Universal’s reboot of The Mummy franchise, which will get a new round of movies after the last reboot trilogy grossed north of $1.25 billion worldwide before running out of steam. Do we need another Mummy? I wouldn’t think so, but apparently we do need to reopen that sarcophagus, especially since studios are whiffing badly in attempts to create new intellectual properties. They instead seem bent on running tried and tested past successes into the ground.

Leaving The Mummy might be the best thing for Wiseman, a props man who got off to an impressive start as a director by launching the ambitious Underworld. He helped hatch that series, which added some real flourishes to the  vampires and werewolves genre. Since then, Wiseman has gone through a succession of sequels (Live Free Or Die Hard) and remakes (Total Recall), becoming a symbol of a time where Hollywood studios place too little emphasis on originality and instead prize utterly familiar product studios hope might put up big global numbers. Wiseman needs an original movie, and fast.

Why does Hollywood go back to the well so often on tired retreads? Because, as this summer has proven, it’s damn near impossible to create new intellectual properties that are not based on bestselling book series with vast reading audiences like Twilight Saga or The Hunger Games. Some of this summer’s non-sequel misfires, like After Earth, The Lone Ranger and R.I.P.D., surely deserve to be one-offs. But even worthy, imaginative films like Pacific Rim have it rough. They get measured and dismissed quickly, not helped by the fact that press coverage has become reliant on imprecise tracking service estimates that give journalists a touchstone to dismiss movies even before anyone has seen them. Early low tracking on Pacific Rim fueled advance stories that the movie would be a flop, which it wasn’t. When The Wolverine‘s opening weekend didn’t match high advance tracking estimates, journalists bashed the movie (which is quite good), and not the faulty tracking services that overestimated the opening weekend numbers in the first place. Pacific Rim also wasn’t helped by a marketing campaign straight out of Transformers, and it wasn’t until too late that Warner Bros switched to spots that showed the movie had heart and wasn’t just a collision of robots and over-sized alien monsters from beneath the sea.

If there are two originals this summer worth sequel-izing, I would nominate Pacific Rim and World War Z. Despite being real crowd-pleasers, these will not be easy decisions because their high production budgets require each to do upwards of $400 million worldwide before serious sequel talk even begins. WWZ passed this threshold and is at $475 million, while Pac Rim is at $226 million but playing strong in Asian territories including China. All of this raises the currency of worn franchises like The Mummy. Read More »

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‘World War Z’ Finally Invading U.S. IMAX Screens For One-Week Run

By | Monday July 29, 2013 @ 10:20am PDT

World War Z Mega TicketLOS ANGELES – JULY 29, 2013 – IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX; TSX:IMX), along with Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films, today announced that due to overwhelming demand, the hit film World War Z starring Brad Pitt has been digitally re-mastered into the immersive IMAX® 3D format and will be released into select IMAX® theatres domestically for the first time for a one-week engagement beginning Aug. 2. World War Z has captivated audiences worldwide – grossing more than $460 million since its launch on June 21. The film has already played in select IMAX theatres internationally. World War Z revolves around an ex-United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop a pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself.

Read More »

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Brad Pitt’s ‘World War Z’ #1 Film Globally

By | Sunday June 30, 2013 @ 1:47pm PDT

It’s still got a long way to go to profitability. But at least Brad Pitt’s zombie pic World War Z isn’t the dud everybody thought it would be. Paramount announced today it’s the #1 film worldwide this weekend with $100M international grosses and $263M global … Read More »

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‘World War Z’ Red Carpet Cancelled In Rio Due To Brazilian Civil Unrest

By | Monday June 24, 2013 @ 6:08am PDT

Ongoing social movements across Brazil have led to the cancellation of Brad Pitt‘s trip to the country in support of World War Z. Protests have been raging for … Read More »

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Monsters University’ Global Total $136.5M: #1 N.A. With $82M For Pixar’s 2nd Biggest; ‘World War Z’ Zombies $112M Worldwide: $66M Domestic Is Biggest Opening For Original Live Action Film Since ‘Avatar’; Superman Still #1 Overseas With $400M Cume

By | Sunday June 23, 2013 @ 11:01am PDT

SUNDAY 11 AM, 8TH UPDATE: Summer 2013 keeps sizzling with total domestic moviegoing this weekend around $236M, which is a big +43% over last year. That means 2013 is about to close the gap with 2012 helped by 3 films over $40M through Sunday. Here’s how the box office shaped up for this weekend, according to official numbers. Disney/Pixar’s 3D prequel Monsters University (playing in 4,004 theaters) now has a global total of $136.5M for its first 4 days with an international cume of $54.5M and a domestic cume of $82.0M. Internationally, the G-rated toon opened day and date in 35 territories, though only 6 are key markets (Germany, Australia, Russia, Mexico, Spain, Brazil), representing only 48% of potential performance. Pic received a coveted ‘A’ CinemaScore from U.S. audiences to keep the positive social media going. It opened to a gargantuan #1 with $30.5M Friday (including Thursday’s $2.6M late show tally) and $28.8M Saturday. That makes it 2nd highest June animation opening in industry history and Pixar’s second highest opening weekend ever, both behind 2010′s Toy Story 3($110.3M). Yowza! Pic did a solid $2.6M for Thursday’s late shows starting at 8 PM. The prequel maintains Pixar’s perfect record of 14 out of 14 feature releases debuting #1 and also with ‘A-’ to ‘A+’ CinemaScores. Can’t beat that incredible record of success. Disney as usual pulled out all the marketing stops on its network and cable channels as well as theme parks (“Monstrous Summer”) with a huge social media campaign that included the first-ever in-character Tumblr page from a studio. Audience exit polling showed 44% male/56% female, and 60% aged under 25/40% aged 26 and over.

This is the story of how top Monstropolis scarers Mike and Sulley met as rivals and ultimately became best friends, complete with college humor, heartfelt storytelling, and gorgeous visuals. Billy Crystal and John Goodman reprise their roles for director Dan Scanlon (who also is credited for the screenplay along with Daniel Gerson and Robert L. Baird) and producer Kori Rae. Monsters Inc was originally released on November 2, 2001, and opened to a $62.5M weekend. Its all-in domestic was $289.9M and foreign $272.9M for a whopping worldwide cume of $562.8M. Pic wound up nominated for 4 Oscars: Best Animated Feature Film, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, and Best Original Song “If I Didn’t Have You” which won the Academy Award.

Hollywood (and just about everybody else) thought Paramount’s opening of 3D World War Z (3,607 theaters), co-financed with Skydance Productions  in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films, would flop. Instead, the zombie epic epidemic based on Max Brooks’ plague novel stunned with a $112M worldwide total. Its $66M domestic cume is the the biggest opening for an original live action film since Avatar, according to Paramount. And its $46M international cume represents 25 markets which is only about 30% of the foreign marketplace. Top performers were Korea with $10.3M, UK with $7.1M, and Australia $5.5M.

Placing a much bigger-than-expected #2, pic received a ‘B+’ CinemaScore from U.S. audiences which helped word of mouth so it overperformed with $25.0M Friday and $22.6M Saturday. It even grossed a decent $3.6M in 2,600 screens for Thursday 8 PM previews and midnight late shows. That has Paramount’s moguls giddy with relief after all that pre-release bad buzz for producer and star Brad Pitt an his Plan B banner – especially since the studio claims statistics show only one original live action movie a year opens at $50+M. (“Franchises open bigger but originals play to better multiples as people start discovering them,” one exec tells me.) Paramount actually issued a press release to say this weekend’s opening is the biggest of Brad’s career – but I say not when 2005′s Mr And Mrs Smith ($50.3M) debut is adjusted for inflation and the 2D vs 3D ticket price. Pic also benefitted from a spot-on marketing plan savvy enough to book in advance 2 spots promoting Friday’s official debut during Thursday’s big Miami-San Antonio NBA final game. That became the 2nd most watched series end in pro basketball history. (More WWZ below)

Here and overseas, WWZ was in direct competition with Warner Bros’ and Legendary Pictures’ holdover 3D Man Of Steel (4,207 theaters in the widest domestic release) which went into this weekend as still the big #1 leader in the worldwide marketplace. The Superman reboot continues as a super-hit internationally, still #1 internationally even after Superman had to battle the zombies from World War Z through today. MOS broadened out to 52 markets outside of the U.S. and Canada with the Christopher Nolan-Zack Snyder-David S. Goyer-Henry Cavill pic opening in 27 more foreign markets this weekend, including the major countries France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia and China. It’s now amassed an international cume of $188.3M. With $210M from its domestic gross in just 11 days, this third Superman franchise now has a huge worldwide total of $398.3M. That includes nearly $35M on exactly 600 worldwide IMAX screens, including the $3.2M opening weekend in China where IMAX screens represent 12.5% of the country’s movie gross. The pic has played very strong throughout Asia (see Korean poster) and, in China alone, grosses were an outstanding $25.5M from roughly 5,631 screens, taking a lion’s share of the market. Opening day took almost 80% marketshare for Warner Bros’ 2nd highest opening day behind only the Harry Potter finale. “Considering the massive openings last weekend and the hot weather impacting the business in many European markets, the film sustained a reasonable holdover drop of 59%,” Warner Bros said today.

Man Of Steel is currently #3 in North America after doing $12.7M Friday (-71% from a week ago) and +29% for $16.2M Saturday and another huge tally around $41.2M (-65% from a week ago). “We’re in great shape moving into the 4th of July holiday playtime with such an iconic character at the helm,” said Warner Bros Domestic Distribution President Dan Fellman. “Hoping we have a similar result to the strong day we had on Father’s Day.” Overseas, Australia opens on June 27, Brazil July 12, and Japan August 30.

Here’s the Top Ten list based on weekend estimates:

1. Monsters University (Pixar/Disney) NEW [Runs 4,004] G
Friday $30.5M, Saturday $28.8M, Weekend $81.1M
International Cume $54.5M, Worldwide Total $136.5M

2. World War Z (Skydance/Paramount) NEW [Runs 3,607] PG13
Friday $25.0M, Saturday $22.6M, Weekend $66.0M
International Cume $46.0M, Worldwide Total $112.0M

3. Man Of Steel (Legendary/Warner Bros) Week 2 [Runs 4,207] PG13
Friday $12.7M, Saturday $16.2M, Weekend $41.2M (-65%), Cume $209.8M
International Cume $188.3M, Worldwide Total $398.3M

4. This Is The End (Columbia/Sony) Week 2 [Runs 3,055] R
Friday $4.1M, Saturday $4.8M, Weekend $13.0M (-37%), Cume $57.4M

5. Now You See Me (Summit/Lionsgate) Week 4 [Runs 2,823] PG13
Friday $2.4M, Saturday $3.1M, Weekend $7.8M, Cume $94.4M
International Cume $40.0m, Worldwide Total $134.4

6. Fast & Furious 6 (Universal) Week 5 [Runs 2,417] PG13
Friday $1.4M, Saturday $1.9M, Weekend $4.8M, Cume $228.4M
International Cume $437.5M, Worldwide Total $665.9M

7. The Purge (Universal) Week 3 [Runs 2,201] R
Friday $1.1M, Saturday $1.3M, Weekend $3.3M, Cume $59.4M
International Cume $8.6m, Worldwide Total $68.0M

8. The Internship (New Regency/Fox) Week 3 [Runs 1,916] PG13
Friday $1.0M, Saturday $1.3M, Weekend $3.3M, Cume $38.3M
International Cume $9.8M, Worldwide Total $48.1M

9. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount) Week 6 [Runs 1,565] PG13
Friday $855K, Saturday $1.2M, Weekend $3.0M, Cume $216.6M
International Cume $213.4M, Worldwide Total $430.0M

10. Iron Man 3 (Marvel/Disney) Week 8 [Runs 924] PG13
Friday $661K, Saturday $843K, Weekend $2.1M, Cume $403.1M
International Cume $804.6M, Worldwide Total $1.207B

Frankly, I’ve never found traditional zombies scary – they’re slow, so just outrun them, right? – although World War Z has fast-moving zombies who swarm. But it’s not like lethal lasers are leaping out of their eyes. And these are PG-13 zombies who don’t look much different from George Romero’s 1968 horror classic Night Of The Living Dead or AMC’s Walking Dead. They’re more like the zombies from Dawn Of The Dead and 28 Days Later. These also are effing expensive zombies. Much has been made of the film’s mega-cost: between $220M-$230M brought down to $200M by tax incentives in locations Scotland, Malta, England, and Hungary, or so the studio claims.

Vanity Fair which typically ignores Hollywood moviemaking even did a long feature article about the pic’s budget, plot, and production problems, including director Marc Forster’s revamps and reshoots. There were no less than four writers Read More »

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‘World War Z’ Helmer Marc Forster Reflects On Watching His Zombie Movie Get Fed Through The Gossip Woodchipper

By | Friday June 21, 2013 @ 9:49am PDT
Mike Fleming

When Marc Forster was a kid, he was fascinated by how a collective swarming movement made everything from ants to cancer cells more potent. Those images informed the depiction of the hordes of zombies in World War Z. It had never occurred to Forster that the same phenomenon could happen to his movie. Unsubstantiated reports about overruns, creative clashes and re-shoots cropped up and then mutated and spread virally on the web. It got to the point where the question was no longer would WWZ work, but how cataclysmic a failure it might be. That began turning around when Paramount began showing the film, and it’s not a big factor as the film opens today. But what was it like for a director to get caught in such an unprecedented media maelstrom, a lot of which was based on some truth, and some inaccurate or exaggerated reporting?

Related: ‘World War Z’ Zombies Begin Global Battle With Superman For #2

“I never went through anything like that, not on Quantum Of Solace, not on anything,” Forster said during a break from promoting WWZ in Russia. “I would read that Brad Pitt and I had no communication, and we would look at each other and say, where could this come from? Is somebody just making up these stories? When articles like those come out and start spreading, it causes you to take a look at yourself, but the thing is, I never doubted the movie, or my own intuition. So few original things get made on this scale. This isn’t a sequel, it isn’t based on a superhero in a comic book. We saw it as an opportunity to take a genre and create something new and unique within it. That challenge excites me, but uniqueness always comes with criticism. As a filmmaker, all you can do is hope you get to the point where people feel as excited and as passionate about the film as you felt making it. Sure, we felt like the media wanted the project to fail, but we knew what we had, and we felt it would work. Then came the first preview, and the movie played like gangbusters.”

Read More »

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Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond, Episode 31

By | Thursday June 20, 2013 @ 2:56pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Listen to (and share) episode 31 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s Awards Columnist talks with host David Bloom about the late James Gandolfini‘s other roles and the ones still to come; the Emmy nominations for “Best Variety Series;” why Matt Damon can’t catch a break this Emmy season despite a fine set of performances; Almodovar’s latest film opening the LA Film Festival; and the movies of the week, including a popcorn-worthy World War Z and the genial animated prequel from Pixar, Monsters University.

Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 31 (MP3 format)
Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 31 (MP4a format) Read More »

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Brad Pitt Eschews ‘World War Z’ Zombies For … Yodeling: Video

By | Wednesday June 19, 2013 @ 8:32am PDT

Not sure how last night’s Late Night skit with Jimmy Fallon ties into Brad Pitt’s World War Z, the Paramount tentpole that comes out Friday. Maybe Pitt is stumping for a role in Les Miserables 2?

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Hot Clip: ‘World War Z’

By | Sunday June 16, 2013 @ 8:56pm PDT

Paramount just released an extended clip from its June 21 zombie tent pole. Here’s a new look at Brad Pitt racing his family away from speedy undead to safety in World War Z:

Related: Paramount Offering $50 ‘Mega Ticket’ For ‘World War Read More »

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Paramount Offering $50 ‘Mega Ticket’ For ‘World War Z’ Screening

World War Z Mega TicketPlenty of people harrumphed Wednesday when George Lucas told a crowd that “going to the movies will cost 50 bucks or 100 or 150 bucks” in the future. Well, one day later that … Read More »

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CAA Inks Scribe Matthew Michael Carnahan

By | Monday June 10, 2013 @ 7:21pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: CAA just signed Matthew Michael Carnahan, the main writer who adapted the Max Brooks novel World War Z, the upcoming Marc Forster-directed thriller that stars Brad Pitt and a helluva lot of zombies (and subsequent scribes). … Read More »

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