During his career, filmmaker George Romero directed six different zombie films across two different universes, with the director having planned to collaborate with filmmaker Matt Birman for the new film Road of the Dead, only for his passing to result in the project being shelved seemingly indefinitely. While elements of the concept were embraced for an IDW comic book, Birman recently confirmed with Bloody Disgusting that he had meetings as recently as early this year to bring the project to life as a film, only for the coronavirus pandemic to halt any potential progress. The filmmaker also detailed that his desire to collaborate with Romero ended up being a major setback for the project.
“I had a bunch of support from a bunch of people, but it all sort of went to sh-t," Birman revealed to the outlet. "Except for Greg! Greg Nicotero was still with me at the end. He was like, ‘You can use my name if it helps, Mattie!’ We’ll see what happens. It’s certainly not dead. I had a couple of really good meetings in December and January, but COVID shut everything down."
He added, "I’m still going to make it! It’s just going to have a different name, and it’s gonna be pitched as the movie I wasn’t allowed to make. There are a whole bunch of projects that we had, scripts written, and it’s stuff I can’t go through with not using his name because it’s just this massive legal battle with them. Which is a shame, because he was absolutely not that guy. He was not interested in that sh-t.”
Birman was inspired to write Road of the Dead based on the finale of Romero's Land of the Dead, with the new project set to take place after the events of that film. While Romero wasn't initially interested in the endeavor, Birman did enough passes on the screenplay to ultimately excite the prolific filmmaker. The project then earned an official collaboration credit with Romero, though the filmmaker passed away two weeks before the project was brought to the Fantasia International Film Festival in hopes of earning financing.
While the project earned a lot of attention initially, the notion being billed as one of Romero's last zombie movies meant a lot more complications to legally move forward with his name attached, with the production budget growing much larger than what Birman or Romero had intended. Despite the many setbacks and disappointments, Birman ended on a much more positive note.
“It’ll eventually get made, whether it’s a $4-million movie or a $1-million movie," the director confessed. "Whether it has stars or no stars. But it’s always gonna be, for me, a continuation of his legacy. It just won’t be promoted as such. So I’m gonna just do it on my own, and you’ll see the dedication at the end. Finally, fans should know the title is now 'Wolfe Island,' only because I had a blood and whiskey promise to G that I could and would never make an ‘…of the Dead’ without him. But I sure as f-ck will make this for him. I miss him terribly.”0comments
Stay tuned for details on Road of the Dead.
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