The upcoming release of World War Z starring Brad Pitt is creating a lot of publicity for its massive budget and the fact that it bears no resemblance to the bestselling novel. The one person least surprised is the book's author, Max Brooks.
Brooks said his novel about a world nearly destroyed by a zombie pandemic, shares the same title as the movie "and that's it."
He talked about his book and the movie during an interview at Mansfield University.
"I knew they were going to rewrite it. I grew up in Hollywood. I knew it was going to go through a million changes."
In fact, few would know better about the rewrite process. Max is the son of Mel Brooks and actress Anne Bancroft.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is a deep and far-reaching look at how humans slowly rebuild the world after they're nearly annihilated by zombies. The story is told from the perspective of various survivors around the world much in the oral history vein of Studs Terkel's works. The book has earned the praise of such pandemic experts as Jeb Weisman, director of strategic technologies at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness.
"World War Z provides us with ... a basic blueprint from which to build a popular understanding of how, when and why such a disaster came to be, and how small groups and individuals survived," he writes.
After a stint as a Saturday Night Live writer, Brooks' published The Zombie Survival Guide in 2003. "It was an outgrowth of my own childhood fears," he said. He began giving lectures on how to survive a zombie invasion, hoping, he said "to sell the 17,000 copies of the first printing." It worked. His fan base grew, the book became a bestseller and World War Z followed in 2006, also hitting the bestseller list. Brooks now lectures on zombie survival in venues around the world, including Comic-Con and the U.S. Naval War College.
He said he was invited to read the World War Z script "after the cameras were rolling."
"I said: Why would I read this? This is not the movie you're going to make," Brooks said. "You're going to do rewrites and reshoots. That's what happens when you make a giant movie.
"My attitude is if you haven't invited me in to contribute, then fine. Go make the movie you want to make and I'll see it when it comes out."
He's more concerned about his book's fans, he said, because "there are a lot of college kids who have been waiting years to see the Battle of Yonkers and I don't know if it will be in there." At the time of the interview he had only seen the two-minute trailer.
"I cannot guarantee that the movie will be the book that they love," Brooks said. "And I'm in no position to tell people to see this movie or not see it. If I'm asked I say: See the movie as a movie and judge it as a movie."