World War Z finally came out this weekend and it actually did quite well for itself, earning $112 million worldwide and already garnering sequel talk. This is surprising, after what seemed to be a cursed production, which included an entirely reshot third act. So what exactly was changed from the original version? In Vanity Fair's June feature on the film, Damon Lindelof explained, "everything changes after Brad leaves Israel." [Vague Spoiler Alert.] In the film, after some crazy stuff on the plane, Pitt and his badass Israeli soldier friend make their way to the World Health Organization facility in Wales. There, Brad Pitt realizes how humans can camouflage themselves from zombies. Having saved the day, he gets reunited with his family. The ending that was originally shot was very different.
According to Movies.com, originally Pitt’s plane lands in Moscow. There, his cell phone is confiscated and he is drafted into their armed service. The film then fast-forwards an indeterminate amount of time to when Pitt has grown a beard and grown into a zombie killing machine, armed with a “Lobo,” a shovel-ax weapon from the book. Basically, after some zombie battling, Pitt eventually figures out that zombies are susceptible to the cold and, as a result, the Russians are able to defeat the undead threat. Pitt gets his phone back and calls his wife, Karin (Mireille Enos), who hastily hangs up. Why does she hang up?
This is where it gets interesting: She hangs up because she now lives in a refugee camp in the Everglades “where you have to have something to trade to survive, and it just so happens the one thing Karin had to trade was herself.” So Karin’s new boyfriend, a certain soldier, calls Pitt back to fill him in on these details and tells him that he might as well just start a new life in Russia. That soldier was supposed to be Matthew Fox, thus explaining why the actor had a five-minute, one-line role in the finished film. The movie ends with Pitt landing on the Oregonian shore, on a mission to get his wife back. (Again, read a more thorough explanation over at Movies.com.)
Pretty different from the film's lush music, hugs, and voice-over ending, right?