Original "Dawn of the Dead" producer Richard P Rubinstein controlled the remake rights and had always declined offers to redo the zombie classic. It wasn't until producer Eric Newman stepped forward and showed Rubinstein how the new version would have an attitude befitting the original project, that the greenlight was given to proceed with a new movie based on the George A. Romero cult film.
But why did the producers select a feature film newcomer as their director? "Zack's enthusiasm for the project was infectious - sorry for the pun," says Newman. Producer Marc Abraham further explains, "Zack had a very specific vision of the film and storyboarded the complete picture himself. We wouldn't have landed our great cast if he hadn't been able to talk about the movie in such a confident and original way."
INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR ZACK SNYDER:
Why did you choose to make Dawn of the Dead your first feature film?
I think Dawn of the Dead as a project is inherently cool. Zombies are inherently cool. Theres nothing you can do to get away from that. People have gravitated toward zombies for a variety of reasons and for me, it is mostly [because] you can kill them with impunity. Theres no moral imperative. Like youre watching it and go, Hey, you killed too many zombies in that movie! You know, thats crazy! No one is going to be morally outraged. So theres that, which I think is great. But also beyond that, they present like an anonymous enemy that doesnt rely on politics or skin color to make you think, Oh, thats the bad guy. They are clearly that and they are everyone. I think thats one of the reasons [to do this film]. It allowed me to make a movie that in a lot of ways verges on cult status, and thats what I wanted to do.
Did you ever think you bit off more than you could chew?
Oh yeah, from the beginning. From the second I said yes I was like, Oh God, what am I doing this for? This is crazy. But the good thing about it was it also made me like, Okay, you have to suck it up and get it done and make sure you like honor it and follow it.
Did you expect to get the high caliber cast you got?
I wanted the cast that I got, I wasnt sure that theyd be into it. I wasnt sure that theyd want to do it. I think I made a pretty convincing argument for why they should do it, and I think that it worked. They ground the movie. They make the movie work because they believe in it. And I think that that helps the audience to make a jump. Its hard, regardless. It was great to have them. I couldnt have done it without them.
What do you want diehard fans of the original to say as they walk out of this Dawn of the Dead?
I want them to walk out saying, You know what? Its not the original but it honors the original. Thats what I would hope.
Whats the difference between re-envisioning and remaking a movie?
I think re-envisioning is when you take an idea and sort of make it your own. Remaking is when you say, Okay, I want that movie experience again. I dont know I think theres arguments for both. I like the original so much that I couldnt have done that.
So you wouldnt have done it had it been a remake?
No, I couldnt have done that.
Whats next for you?
I dont know. (Laughing) The job I love is making TV commercials.
Would you do another horror movie?
Well see. Theres a lot of movies out there, a lot of people are talking. You know how they are.
ADDITIONAL "DAWN OF THE DEAD" RESOURCES:
Sarah Polley and Ving Rhames Interviews
Dave Draiman (from the band Disturbed) and Scott Reiniger Interviews
Jake Weber and Kevin Zegers Interviews
"Dawn of the Dead" Photo Gallery
"Dawn of the Dead" Trailer, Credits and Movie News