Horror legend George A. Romero is teaming up with a frequent collaborator for his next zombie movie, which will be seeking buyers at the Fantasia International Film Festival market this summer. The new project is entitled Road of the Dead, which George A. Romero co-wrote with Matt Birman, who is slated to direct this project. It isn't clear when production may begin, but this project will be just the director's second feature film, although he has spent decades in other areas of production.
IndieWire reports that this project originated from a Matt Birman pitch from roughly 10 years ago. The story is set on a remote island where zombie prisoners race cars in a modern-day Coliseum, all for the entertainment of affluent humans. The director describes the project as a hybrid of Road Warrior and Rollerball, set at a NASCAR race, and that there is "significant inspiration" from the iconic 1959 classic Ben-Hur. No character details have been released at this time, but if the project finds a buyer at Frontières, the Fantasia International Film Festival's annual film co-production market, which runs from July 20 to July 23 in Montreal, we may be hearing more about this project soon.
George A. Romero will produce through his New Romero Productions company, alongside Matt Manjourides, Justin Martell from Not the Funeral Home and writer-director Matt Birman, through his Pig Dreams company. It isn't known how large the budget will be for Road of the Dead, but since it seems this project will need a large racing arena, that could significantly impact the budget. It isn't clear yet where George A. Romero and Matt Birman intend to film Road of the Dead. The director has quite the history with his writing partner, working on his last three films.
Matt Birman served as second unit director on Survival of the Dead (2010), Diary of the Dead (2008) and Land of the Dead (2006), the last three zombie movies George A. Romero directed. He has also served as a second unit director on Traitor, A Perfect Getaway and numerous TV shows such as Nikita, Warehouse 13, Hemlock Grove, Defiance, and, most recently, Taken. His impressive resume also includes more than 250 credits as a stunt performer, with his first gig on the 1979 feature City On Fire, starring Leslie Nielsen.
While he has performed as a stuntman on movies such as Four Brothers, Alien vs Predator, John Q and Rollerball, just to name a few, he has started to rise through the ranks as a stunt coordinator as well. Matt Birman has spent most of his time over the last few years on the small screen, serving as the stunt coordinator for Warehouse 13, Hemlock Grove, Defiance, Gangland Undercover, Frontier, The Expanse, Taken and the upcoming Jack Ryan series for Amazon. He also serves as a stunt driver for Guillermo del Toro's upcoming The Shape of Water. Hopefully we'll have more on Road of the Dead soon.