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George A. Romero: Did Brad Pitt Kill the Zombie Film Genre?

The Walking Dead, AMC

Over the past decade, zombie films have become a staple in the monthly Hollywood release schedule. For a few years, it appeared that zombies were taking over every facet of the Hollywood landscape, from thrillers to rom-coms. Zombies are in our television shows, our movies, and even in our video games. You cannot go into any city in the United States without stumbling across at least on 5k zombie walk or run.

Does that mean that there is no where else that zombies can go? Are we finally starting to see the end of the zombie craze? If you look at the television ratings for The Walking Dead, it doesn’t seem to be dying out anytime soon. One person that is seeing a bleak future for the zombie genre is George A. Romero. Romero is considered the godfather of the zombie genre, so when he speaks, people listen. He told Indiewire that it has become hard to finance further zombie films:

“Because of World War Z and The Walking Dead, I can’t pitch a modest little zombie film, which is meant to be sociopolitical. I used to be able to pitch them on the basis of the zombie action, and I could hide the message inside that. Now, you can’t. The moment you mention the word zombie, it’s got to be, ‘Hey, Brad Pitt paid $400 million to do that.’…you couldn’t do a zombie film that had any sort of substance. It had to be a zombie film with just zombies wreaking havoc. That’s not what I’m about.”

The Walking Dead, AMC
Promotional Art for Season 6 of ‘The Walking Dead’. Image: AMC

His 2007 film, Diary of the Dead, surprised him when it succeeded, and producers wanted to make another one quickly. When the next film he did (Survival of the Dead) bombed, the studio changed their tune. Romero is wanting to make artistic zombie films, but the box office success of films like World War Z destroyed any chances that studios would fund them.

So, in essence, Brad Pitt did kill the zombie genre.

Brad Repka
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