The dead are walking again.
George Romero is set to direct “Land of the Dead,” a horror film that picks up on the zombie saga he hatched with “Night of the Living Dead” and continued with “Dawn of the Dead” and “Day of the Dead.”
Pic, from Romero’s own script, is being co-financed by Atmosphere Entertainment and Paris-based Wild Bunch. Production will begin in October in Winnipeg or Pittsburgh. Latter was the site of shooting for Romero’s original 1968 zombie trilogy.
New film will be produced by Atmosphere chairman-CEO Mark Canton and prexy Bernie Goldmann, along with Romero’s partner Peter Grunwald of Romero Grunwald Prods. Atmosphere’s Steve Barnett is exec producer.
Go picture is the first for Atmosphere, which Canton formed late last year with financing from Daedalus Media Partners principal Mark J. Kimsey. While the company hatched a surplus of scripts Canton brought from previous ventures, “Land of the Dead” is a new script buy.
In Romero’s new pic, the zombies having taken over the world and those left alive are confined to a walled-in city that keeps out the corpse corps. Anarchy rules the streets, with the wealthy insulated and living in fortified skyscrapers. Drama revolves around a group of scavengers who must thwart an attempt to overthrow the city while the dead are evolving from brainless slow-moving creatures into more advanced creatures.
Canton said Romero’s early work was the touchstone for a slew of current horror hits and that his script showed the master hadn’t lost his touch.
He and Goldmann described the film as “Night of the Living Dead” meets “The Road Warrior,” and Wild Bunch’s Vincent Grimond sparked to the overseas potential. The two companies have the ability to cover the budget themselves but expect to land a domestic distributor before the zombies wreak havoc in the fall.
Romero had been developing “Diamond Dead,” a black comedy musical that’s being produced by Scott Free and Andrew Gaty, and he also scripted an adaptation of the Stephen King novel “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,” which he may direct for Canadian financier Don Archibald and Lions Gate. But he jumped at the chance to dig up the dead again.
“People ask me why I’ve waited so long to do another ‘Dead’ film,” Romero said. “I made one in the ’60s, one in the ’70s and one in the ’80s. The only reason I missed the ’90s is because I wanted to stay faithful to the tradition while coming up with something new.”
Romero’s new film will have a budget in the teens. The original cost $140,000 and grossed $20 million worldwide, becoming one of the most profitable films of all time. The first sequel, “Dawn of the Dead” cost $1.2 million and grossed $40 million worldwide.