Dawn of the Dead (2004 film)
Dawn of the Dead is a 2004 American action horror film directed by Zack Snyder and written by James Gunn. A remake of George A. Romero's 1978 horror film Dawn of the Dead, it stars an ensemble cast that includes Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Ty Burrell, and Mekhi Phifer. Scott Reiniger, Tom Savini, and Ken Foree from the original film also make cameo appearances. It was Snyder's first feature film, having previously worked as a television commercial director. Set in Milwaukee, Dawn of the Dead follows a group of lone survivors who take refuge in an upscale suburban shopping mall during a zombie apocalypse.
|Dawn of the Dead|
|Directed by||Zack Snyder|
|Screenplay by||James Gunn|
|Based on||Dawn of the Dead|
by George A. Romero
|Cinematography||Matthew F. Leonetti|
|Edited by||Niven Howie|
|Music by||Tyler Bates|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$102.3 million|
Producers Eric Newman and Marc Abraham developed the film rather as a "re-envisioning" of the original Dawn of the Dead, aiming to reinvigorate the zombie genre for modern audiences. Newman and Abraham were handed the rights to the original courtesy of its producer and rights holder Richard P. Rubinstein; and then Gunn was brought in to write the script, which adopted the original's basic premise but is oriented around the action genre. Snyder came on board to direct with a goal of keeping every aspect of the production as grounded in reality as possible. Filming took place from June 9 to September 6 of 2003, on location in Toronto, Canada where a now-defunct shopping mall that was slated for demolition was used. The special makeup effects for the film were created by David LeRoy Anderson.
Released on March 19, 2004, the film topped the box office on its United States opening weekend, and went on to gross $102.3 million worldwide against a budget of $26 million. Upon release it received favorable reviews from film critics, some of whom considered it an improvement over its predecessor in terms of acting, production values, and scares; though others found it lacking in character development, excessively gory, and indifferent to the sociopolitical subtext of the original. Retrospective reviews have cited Dawn of the Dead as Snyder's finest work, and it was ranked as one of the best films in the horror and zombie genres. A spiritual successor, Army of the Dead, was released in 2021.
After finishing a long shift as a nurse at the Milwaukee County Hospital, Ana returns to her suburban neighborhood and her husband Luis. Caught up in a date night, they miss an emergency news bulletin. The next morning, a girl from the neighborhood enters and kills Luis, who immediately reanimates as a zombie and attacks Ana. She flees in her car, crashes, and passes out. Upon waking, she joins police sergeant Kenneth Rhodes, electronics salesman Michael, petty criminal Andre and his pregnant wife, Luda. They break into a nearby mall and are attacked by a zombie security guard, who slightly bites Luda. Three guards — C.J., Bart, and Terry — make them surrender their weapons in exchange for refuge. They split into groups to secure the mall. On the roof, they see another survivor, Andy, who is stranded in his gun store across the zombie-infested parking lot. A broadcast from a television features a group of cops burning the corpses of zombies and instructs the viewers to shoot zombies in the head to kill them quickly, prompting the survivors to heed this advice.
The next day, a delivery truck carrying more survivors enters the lot, pursued by zombies. They include Norma, Steve, Tucker, Monica, Glen, Frank and his daughter, Nicole. Another woman is too ill to walk; she is wheeled inside, only to die and reanimate. After she is killed, the group determines the disease is passed by bites. Luda keeps her bite a secret from the group, though Andre knows. Frank, who has been bitten, elects to be isolated. When he reanimates, Kenneth shoots him.
Kenneth and Andy start a friendship by way of messages written on a whiteboard; romance buds between Ana and Michael, as well as Nicole and Terry. When the power goes out, a few of the survivors go to the parking garage to activate the emergency generator and find a friendly dog who is adopted by Nicole and named Chips. Zombies kill Bart, forcing the others to douse the zombies in gas and set them ablaze. Meanwhile, Luda — tied up by Andre — dies before giving birth. She reanimates and Norma kills her. This makes Andre snap; he exchanges gunfire with Norma and the two kill each other. The others find a zombie baby in Andre's arms delivered after Luda's death, which they kill reluctantly. The group decides to fight their way to the marina and travel on Steve's yacht to an island on Lake Michigan. They reinforce two shuttle buses from the garage; welding on a snowplow, attaching metal bars and chains as well as stocking chainsaws, propane tanks and road flares.
To rescue Andy, the group straps supplies onto Chips and lower him into the parking lot; the zombies have no interest in him. Chips enters Andy's store safely, but a zombie follows and bites Andy. Pursuing Chips, Nicole crashes the delivery truck into the gun store, where she is trapped by a zombified Andy. A group of them reach the gun store via the sewers, kill Andy, and rescue Nicole. They grab ammunition and go back to the mall; along the way, Tucker breaks his legs, and C.J. shoots him out of mercy. Once inside, they are unable to lock the door because Steve temporarily abandoned his guard duty. Zombies storm the mall, forcing an evacuation via the buses.
While navigating the city, Glen loses control of a chainsaw, accidentally killing Monica. In the chaos, their bus crashes, killing Glen. Steve tries to flee on his own but is ambushed by a zombie. Ana kills the zombified Steve and retrieves his boat keys. At the marina, C.J. sacrifices himself by detonating a propane tank so the others can escape. Michael, after revealing a bite wound, kills himself as Ana, Kenneth, Nicole, Terry, and Chips flee on the yacht.
Footage from a camcorder found on the boat shows the group run out of supplies, arrive at an island and get attacked by a swarm of zombies. The camcorder drops, leaving their fate unknown.
- Sarah Polley as Ana Clark, a married nurse. Polley, who was the first choice for Ana, agreed to take the role because she saw it as an unusual departure from the stereotypical portrayal of female characters, considering it to be "anything more than somebody screaming and running away"; as such, she admired Ana's resilience in the face of adversity.
- Ving Rhames as Sergeant Kenneth Rhodes, a police officer. Rhames said he was sold on the project due to the diversity of the cast as well as director Zack Snyder's track record of "[saying] a lot with the camera without dialogue"; he also jokingly stated, "I want to be in this movie because the black guy lives."
- Jake Weber as Michael Shaunessy, a television salesman. Weber described his character as an "everyman" suffering from an existential crisis after his divorce and the loss of his child, but later finds his identity as a skilled zombie slayer. Dawn of the Dead was Weber's second horror film after Wendigo in 2001, as well as his first studio film in which he played a central role.
- Mekhi Phifer as Andre, a "streetwise" expectant father. Phifer agreed to be in the film because he was "intrigued" by its script, whose quality he described set it apart from B movies laden with "terrible acting, silly situations, [and] chicks running around with their boobs out".
- Ty Burrell as Steve Markus, a flippant and annoyingly foolish businessman. Burrell auditioned for the role of Michael the same day Weber auditioned for Steve. Describing his character as a "totally nihilistic jerk", Burrell found his role to be appropriate for him because he was "too flawed and too scared of a person" to effectively portray the ideal leading man required of Weber's role.
- Michael Kelly as C.J., a tyrannical mall security guard who is subsequently overthrown. The character is noted as having been given an arc that centers on redemption.
- Kevin Zegers as Terry, the junior mall security guard.
- Michael Barry as Bart, an inconsiderate mall security guard.
- Lindy Booth as Nicole, a young woman and Terry's eventual love interest.
- Jayne Eastwood as Norma, a middle-aged female truck driver.
- Boyd Banks as Tucker, a survivor from Norma's group.
- Inna Korobkina as Luda, Andre's pregnant wife.
- R. D. Reid as Glen, a church organist.
- Kim Poirier as Monica, a conspicuously sexy woman.
- Matt Frewer as Frank, Nicole's father.
- Louis Ferreira as Luis Clark, Ana's husband.
- Hannah Lochner as Vivian, a young girl who is Ana and Luis's neighbor.
- Bruce Bohne as Andy, a gunstore owner with whom Kenneth develops a "long-distance friendship".
Additional members of the cast include stuntman Ermes Blarasin as the bloated woman, Natalie Brown as a CDC reporter, and dog actor Blu as Nicole's adopted pet dog Chips. Director Zack Snyder cameos as a soldier battling zombies at the United States Capitol during the film's title sequence, as do Scott Reiniger, Tom Savini, and Ken Foree (who were in the original film) as a general, sheriff, and televangelist, respectively.
Plans to remake 1978's Dawn of the Dead were conceived by producer Eric Newman, a fan of zombie films who cited the George A. Romero horror film as the best in this genre. With the remake, Newman and producer Marc Abraham wanted to reinvigorate the zombie genre for modern audiences as well as "make the old fans happy and make a lot of new fans". Newman and Abraham bought the rights to Dawn of the Dead from its producer and rights holder Richard P. Rubinstein, who was reluctant at first as he was "concerned that somewhere along the way a studio would sanitize Newman's vision for producing a version with 'attitude'", but that it was "Marc Abraham's long track record in keeping the creative integrity of the studio distributed films he has produced intact that gave me reason to say 'yes'". Newman hired James Gunn to write the script, who was brought in despite not wanting to pitch the studio a treatment for the project beforehand.
The producers conceptualized the remake as more of a "re-envisioning" which would work in some references to the original but would primarily work on its own terms. Co-producer Eric Newman cited Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Thing (1982), and The Fly (1986) as influences on the remake, considering these to be "amazing updates" as well as "great movies that add to rather than diminish the original films". By way of respect to Romero's film, the producers cast some of its actors in cameos: Tom Savini, Scott Reiniger, and Ken Foree; and incorporated visual references to two additional co-stars: Gaylen Ross and James A. Baffico.
In writing the script, Gunn took the original's basic premise of a group of lone survivors taking refuge in a mall during the zombie apocalypse and then updated it with a storyline that was more action-oriented, putting the characters in certain scenarios that would force them to evacuate the mall. He also left the origin of the zombie outbreak ambiguous as he did not want to provide a definitive answer that catered exclusively to a specific audience, rather encouraging people to draw their own conclusions. The script was given uncredited rewrites by Michael Tolkin and Scott Frank; co-producer Richard P. Rubinstein said Tolkin further developed the characters while Frank provided some of the bigger, upbeat action scenes. Gunn revealed he had faced internet backlash over the film due to his past screenwriting credit on Scooby-Doo (2002), believing him to be unqualified for the job. However, film critic Harry Knowles, initially an opponent of the remake, eventually got a hold of Gunn's script and gave it a glowing response on his website Ain't It Cool News, which Gunn said had helped eliminate doubts cast upon him by fans of the original.
I think that in the end, Dawn of the Dead is about redemption because it's about a bunch of people who have lived certain lives, who have maybe not been the best people, and suddenly they have everything that they've used to define themselves: Their careers, their churches, their jobs, their families are stripped away. They're gone. They start at nothing and they have to become who they really are in the face of all that and some of the people are redeemed and end up becoming good people and some of them are not redeemed and they end up, you know, not redeemed. And that's what kind of drove me throughout the story, was it was a story about redemption. I also think that there's a lot about how people survive and what people turn to in the face of such tragedy. The tragedy in this case being flesh-eating zombies. And really it's a group coming together to work as a community who wouldn't otherwise work together. So there is that foundation of love, that basic message, within even Dawn of the Dead...
Zack Snyder chose to direct the remake as his first feature film because it gave the television commercial director "a reason to care about every shot". Not wanting his version inevitably compared to George A. Romero's, Snyder concurred with the producers on reimagining the latter film instead of doing it as a "remake", which, in his view, would entail re-shooting Romero's script. For that matter, Snyder aimed to make his film a straight horror that was "as serious as a heart attack", and keep every aspect of its production as grounded in reality as possible. In achieving these, he previsualized the film with storyboards and issued the concept of running zombies, which he said was his "fresh, new way" of giving it a sense of verisimilitude and rendering zombies as if they are a real threat especially when they attack in hordes. Gunn supported this concept, believing that the "danger factor" brought about by running zombies would add more tension to the story. Snyder would also maintain Gunn's decision not to reveal the origin of the zombie outbreak as he felt it was "obvious that in this fallen society, you wouldn't know where the whole plague started".
In searching for a suitable upscale mall location for the film, production designer Andrew Neskoromny looked for existing malls that were scheduled for demolition. His search yielded no results until he found the now-defunct Thornhill Square shopping mall in Toronto, Canada, which measured approximately 45,000 square feet (1.0 acre). Dubbed the "Crossroads Mall", the crew completely redid the mall over an eight-week period, adding an expensive water feature near the entrance, 14 stores, parking structures, and warehouse areas. Since Snyder wanted the stores palpable in terms of design and stood not merely as storefronts, Neskoromny's team accordingly built them as actual retail stores complete with merchandise, many of which were given fake names since only two major retail brands agreed to be featured in the film.
The special makeup effects for the film were created by David LeRoy Anderson, with assistance from his wife Heather Langenkamp. Prior to accepting the job from Universal Pictures executive James D. Brubaker, Anderson had been in a two-year hiatus from working as a makeup effects artist to operate his company DLA Silverwear. Anderson completed his test makeups for the film over a four-week period, and then he and his team traveled to the Toronto set and set up their makeup effects lab next to the mall.
Since the filmmakers had decided that the zombies in the film would become more decomposed over time, Anderson accordingly researched on the appearance of decay following human death, looking through several medical books, war footages, and crime scene photographs showing graphic images of trauma victims in order to properly depict this appearance; he broke down the look of decomposition into three stages:
The first stage looks like someone who was just in the ER – pale, with lots of fresh blood. The second stage has moist wounds but the skin is beginning to break down. There is a lot of discoloration and mottling, mostly blues and greens. The third stage is the most intense, with the skeletal form coming through. The wounds are dried-up, the skin is sloughing off and colors are oily blacks.
Filming and post-productionEdit
Filming began on June 9, 2003, on location in various parts of Toronto, Canada. Hundreds of zombie extras had to be constantly available for the entire shoot. To handle the volume of willing extras, Anderson and his team built a large factory where painted extras would stay put until they are spoken for by either the main or second unit film crew. Anderson built various makeup rooms for the artists to work in: one consisted of camper trailers where they would apply detailed prosthetic makeups to extras playing as "hero zombies", a special type of zombie; and the other consisted of tents where they would produce painted masks for extras playing as background zombies. Extras playing as foreground zombies were painted with plain palette makeups in Anderson's mall lab. The makeup artists were given Anderson's concept images to work on as references. According to Anderson and Heather Langenkamp, the most extras they ever had in any given day sat between 200–400, with a total of 3,000 makeups completed when filming ended on September 6, 2003.
The production shot scenes for which Snyder wanted as many as 4,000 live-action zombies, which Berardi created rather as a combination of practical zombies and CG zombies which he built as 3D models with Autodesk Maya. One such scene involved tens of thousands of zombies at the mall's parking lot, which was shot with motion-control passes whose green screen elements of 200 extras were later composited to create "a digital crowd simulation that looks realistic".
The score for Dawn of the Dead was composed by Tyler Bates, his first for a horror film. Bates became involved with the film after he was recommended to it by its music supervisor, G. Marq Roswell, who learned he made little money from his work on Mario Van Peebles's film Baadasssss!, on which Roswell also served as music supervisor. The studio was not convinced with hiring Bates due to his lack of track record at the time, but director Zack Snyder insisted on him, and he was ultimately hired.
In scoring the film, Bates avoided taking cues from the original's music by the band Goblin as he found its style to be incompatible with what Snyder had filmed. Bates's score combines elements of electronic music and 20th-century orchestra, which was influenced by the works of composers adept at creating dissonance, such as Béla Bartók and Krzysztof Penderecki. Bates employed these musical choices with the intention of making the audience "very uncomfortable".
Milan Records released Bates's score in physical format for the first time on October 23, 2012, a week after the record label released it digitally via iTunes Store and Amazon Music. The album comprises 31 tracks, all of which were composed by Bates. Bates's work on Dawn of the Dead also marked the beginning of a frequent collaboration between him and Snyder: he would later compose for the director on 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch.
Dawn of the Dead was marketed with its 10-minute opening sequence that was broadcast on cable television four nights before its theatrical release. Released on March 19, 2004, the film grossed $26.7 million on its United States opening weekend, claiming the No. 1 spot The Passion of the Christ formerly held for three consecutive weekends. Dawn of the Dead ended its theatrical run grossing $102.3 million worldwide (against a budget of $26 million), with a gross of $59 million in the United States and Canada and $43.3 million in other territories. Variety reported, "Some 63% of Dawn [audiences] were under age 25, with 57% of patrons male. Hispanic moviegoers comprised 21% of its supporters and African-Americans 14%."
The release of Dawn of the Dead in the U.S. nearly coincided with that of Shaun of the Dead, another zombie film distributed by Universal Pictures. In a February 2004 Variety report, a spokesman at Universal revealed that the studio had greenlit Shaun of the Dead "with the condition that Dawn of the Dead would be released here in the U.S. first" in order to avoid this conflict.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released Dawn of the Dead on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital with director Zack Snyder's unrated director's cut of the film, which Snyder described as longer, gorier, and fleshed-out in terms of characterization than the theatrical version. Bonus features found on the DVD and Blu-ray include an audio commentary with Snyder and co-producer Eric Newman; the behind-the-scenes featurettes Attack of the Living Dead, Raising the Dead, Drawing the Dead, Splitting Headaches, and Surviving the Dawn; deleted scenes with optional commentary with Snyder and Newman; and the film's theatrical trailer.
On Halloween of 2017, Shout! Factory's horror sub-label Scream Factory released a two-disc collector's edition Blu-ray of Dawn of the Dead, which contains the film's theatrical version and the director's cut. The Blu-ray, which is said to have been "derived from the digital intermediate archival negative", contains bonus features found in the previous release as well as new and exclusive ones featuring interviews with actors Ty Burrell and Jake Weber, screenwriter James Gunn, and makeup effects artists David LeRoy Anderson and Heather Langenkamp.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, which categorizes reviews only as positive or negative, 76% of 193 reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.80/10. According to the review aggregator Metacritic, which sampled 37 reviews and calculated a weighted average of 59 out of 100, Dawn of the Dead received "mixed or average reviews".
Upon its theatrical release, Dawn of the Dead was praised by film critics as a worthy remake of the original, and was hailed as a breakthrough in zombie films. It was called "superior in many ways" to the original (ReelViews), "a promising silhouette on the horizon of a faltering genre" (IGN), and "the best proof in ages that cannibalizing old material sometimes works fiendishly well" (Los Angeles Times). Lisa Schwarzbaum (Entertainment Weekly) called the film director Zack Snyder's "killer feature debut", while Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) said it "works and it delivers just about what you expect when you buy your ticket" even though "its plot flatlines compared to the 1979 version". The film's opening sequence was singled out for further praise, which some detractors of the film liked better. While some said the remake had better acting, production values, and scares than its predecessor, others stated it "[failed] to trigger as much fear and mirth as the original" (The Guardian) and "[worked] only on the level of a visceral horror exercise and, even then, only intermittently" (Variety).
Despite the praise, the film was criticized for downplaying key elements of its predecessor. Some critics argued that whereas George A. Romero had exploited the shopping mall location to satirize consumer culture and a wide range of sociopolitical issues, Snyder had used it merely as a convenient setting for his characters. Others complained that the film was content to indulge in bloody zombie killings at the expense of its predecessor's sly social commentary, the effects of which they said left the viewers numbed and "less mercifully handled, even at the end-credits". Conversely, the Los Angeles Times critic Manohla Dargis commented that Romero's central metaphor has lost its significance in the years following the original's release, "with the politics of consumption now an established academic field and shopping now considered a statement of identity"; of the abundant gore, she said "what makes the film pop aren't the buckets of blood, but the filmmakers' commitment to genre fundamentals." IGN reviewer Todd Gilchrist praised the film's tonal shift, calling it "a calculated risk that paid off". Despite complaints that the film lacked the humor of the original, some said it had some funny scenes of its own, including one in which a couple of male characters shoot zombified celebrity look-alikes with a sniper rifle, which an otherwise negative review from The Hollywood Reporter cited as some of its "moments of inspired audacity".
While James Gunn's script was complimented as "sharp" and propulsive, albeit "big on snappy repartee at the expense of any kind of intriguing plot development", its characters were lambasted by critic Michael Wilmington in a pan review for the Chicago Tribune, who said their actions were about as idiotic as their zombie counterparts; personality-wise, he described some of them as "heroic" and a few others as "craven or villainous". The lack of character development was also criticized by some reviewers due to the ensemble being large. ReelViews owner and critic James Berardinelli was lenient in his assessment, commenting that although there were moments in which the characters did show a lack of common sense, "it's inevitable that most of them end up as one-dimensional throw-aways whose sole purpose is to increase the body count; he further wrote that "not many people go to a horror film looking for character development and drama." Ebert and Berardinelli praised the "touching" subplots of the Mekhi Phifer and Ving Rhames characters, which the latter critic said were "handled with a deft hand"; Wilmington also considered the Phifer subplot "tragic". Out of the cast, which was praised as "superlative" and "respectable", Sarah Polley garnered the most attention from critics, who complimented the actress as "a perfect against-type heroine" with "a nice anxious stare".
In 2005, George A. Romero spoke of how critical he was with Dawn of the Dead during an interview with actor Simon Pegg for Time Out, saying: "It was better than I expected. I thought it was a good action film. The first 15, 20 minutes were terrific, but it sort of lost its reason for being. It was more of a video game. I'm not terrified of things running at me; it's like Space Invaders. There was nothing going on underneath."
Reception to Dawn of the Dead in the years following its release has been favorable: it has been cited as Zack Snyder's best film, with Den of Geek going so far as to call it his masterpiece. Revisiting the film on its 15th anniversary in 2019, Joe Lipsett wrote the following verdict for Bloody Disgusting:
Fifteen years later, Dawn of the Dead completely holds up. The film's flaws are mostly at the character level, though having a dumb zombie baby and a few undeveloped red shirts in the mix is hardly a deal breaker. The action – particularly the opening scene and the propane explosion climax – in addition to the fantastic special effects makeup, the brief flirtation with found footage, and the reverence for its source text while introducing something new makes 2004's Dawn of the Dead one of the best remakes on the market.
In a June 2018 article for The Hollywood Reporter, Richard Newby opined that Dawn of the Dead "helped push along the zombie craze" in the United States at a time when American society "was ripe for the re-emergence of zombie movies" in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the country, which he believes to have contributed to the Americans' "increased fear of biological weapons, fervent mass militarization and the burrowing question of who exactly are the people we call our neighbors." Likewise, author Stephen King, who praised the film in the forenote of the 2010 edition of his book Danse Macabre, observed that it had commented not on consumerism but rather on society's fear of terrorism, drawing an allusion between the zombie apocalypse and a post-9/11 America; he explained in part:
By 2004, only three years downriver from 9/11, rampant consumerism was the last thing on our minds. [...] What haunted our nightmares was the idea of suicide bombers driven by an unforgiving (and unthinking, most of us believed) ideology and religious fervor. You could beat 'em up or burn 'em, but they'd just keep coming, the news reports assured us. They would keep on coming until either we were dead or they were. The only way to stop them was a bullet in the head. That's exactly what Snyder's zombies are, it seems to me: fast-moving terrorists who never quit. You can't debate with them, you can't parley with them, you can't even threaten their homes or families with reprisals.
Numerous publications have ranked Dawn of the Dead as one of the best zombie films, including number 3 by Rolling Stone (2012) and number 12 by Empire (2020); as well as one of the best horror films, including number 3 by Dread Central (2010), number 8 by Bloody Disgusting (2009), number 52 by IGN, and number 55 by Rolling Stone (2020). The film made Collider's list of "The 22 Best Zombie Movies of All Time" (2021), as did review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes's lists of "The 20 Scariest Opening Scenes in Horror Movie History" (at number 6), "The 25 Best Horror Movie Remakes" (at number 9), "The 30 Essential Zombie Movies" (at number 13), and "18 Memorable Horror Remakes".
|2004||Bram Stoker Awards||Screenplay||James Gunn||Nominated|||
|Golden Trailer Awards||Best Horror/Thriller||Dawn of the Dead||Won|||
|Best Music||Dawn of the Dead||Nominated|||
|2005||Saturn Awards||Best Horror Film||Dawn of the Dead||Nominated|||
|Best Make-Up||David LeRoy Anderson and Mario Cacioppo||Nominated|
On March 25, 2007, Variety announced that Warner Bros. Pictures would produce a new zombie film from a screenplay written by Joby Harold, based on an original idea conceived by Snyder. In a statement, Snyder said that he wanted the film to feel similar to Dawn of the Dead and 300 and that it would center around a father in Las Vegas "who tries to save his daughter from imminent death in a zombie-infested world." At the time, Wesley Coller was attached to executive produce, with Snyder and his wife Deborah Snyder producing through Cruel & Unusual Films (now known as The Stone Quarry). Snyder got the idea during Dawn of the Dead's production and wanted to explore a new evolution of the zombies. The film is not a sequel to Dawn of the Dead but rather a spiritual successor. Snyder realized that he needed a new origin story to develop the plot and create a new incarnation of the living dead. He titled the project Army of the Dead as a tribute to the works of George A. Romero. After spending several years in development hell, the distribution rights to the film were acquired by Netflix in 2019, and Snyder began shooting that same year. Army of the Dead had a week-long limited theatrical release in theaters starting May 14, before a wider Netflix release on May 21, 2021.
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