As you kick back to enjoy the new season of The Walking Dead, remember it almost certainly owes a debt to George A Romero. The Night of the Living Dead auteur pioneered the zombie genre — but that means he’s also been around long enough to see the genre fundamentally change over the past decade or so.
In a fascinating interview with IndieWire, Romero talks about his ambitions to make another zombie movie and how hard it’s become to get a mid-budget zombie flick funded — even for the guy who literally created the genre. Romero has always taken the angle of using the zombie apocalypse as a way to shine a light on different social issues, but now he says you have to pretty much “hide the message” to actually get the movie made.
In regard to funding, he said the market for a low-to-mid-budget zombie movie is shrinking fast. Here’s an excerpt from his comments:
“I did Land of the Dead, which was the biggest zombie film I had ever made. I don’t think it needed to be that big. That money went largely to the cast. They were great, but I don’t think that money needed to be spent. Dennis Hopper’s cigar budget cost more than the entire production of Night of the Living Dead. That’s the way it is.
Now, because of World War Z and The Walking Dead, I can’t pitch a modest little zombie film, which is meant to be sociopolitical. I used to be able to pitch them on the basis of the zombie action, and I could hide the message inside that. Now, you can’t. The moment you mention the word ‘zombie,’ it’s got to be, ‘Hey, Brad Pitt paid $400 million to do that.’”
It’s interesting to hear from a living legend like Romero about how this industry has changed, and it seems the influx of mid-budget horror films like the stuff from the Blumhouse factory isn’t really extending all the way out to zombies. Romero said he's not really interested in crowdfunding a project, so as it stands, he could've already made his last undead adventure.