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In 1968, filmmaker George A. Romero unleashed the zombie genre with Night of the Living Dead, a low-budget sensation that remains as relevant today as it was decades ago. The filmmaker went on to direct five more zombie features, including Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985) and Land of the Dead (2005). What few knew was that before he died of lung cancer at 77 in 2017, Romero was quietly developing Twilight of the Dead, a concluding chapter intended to be his final statement on the genre.
Now Suzanne Romero, widow of the filmmaker, is opening up about Twilight of the Dead and sharing her plans to take it to the screen. She has been developing the script with three screenwriters for the past few years and is ready to meet with directors on the project, which has this tantalizing logline: “The story is set in a decimated world. Life has all but disappeared. But there still may be hope for humanity.”
George A. Romero wrote a treatment for Twilight of the Dead with Paolo Zelati. After the director’s death, Zelati asked Suzanne Romero for permission to continue with the script. He brought on screenwriters Joe Knetter and Robert L. Lucas to help.
“I gave him my full blessing as long as I could be there every step of the way for it to remain true to George’s vision,” says Suzanne Romero. “We had a solid treatment and the beginning of the script. I can 100 percent say that George would be incredibly happy to see this continue. He wanted this to be his final stamp on the zombie genre.”
Romero’s 2005 film Land of the Dead introduced Big Daddy, an intelligent zombie leader, whose fate is left an open question at the end of the film. George A. Romero wanted an answer to what came next.
“Everything started with my question to him: ‘Where do the zombies go at the end of Land of the Dead?'” says Zelati.
George A. Romero directed two more zombie films after Land of the Dead — 2007’s Diary of the Dead and 2009’s Survival of the Dead — but he did not consider those as part of the same overarching story that began with Night of the Living Dead.
“It is no secret that Diary and Survival were not the way he envisioned the series ending, and George knew it very well,” notes Zelati. “Twilight of the Dead was his goodbye to the genre he created and wanted to go out with a powerful film.”
As the three screenwriters worked, they also watched videos of George A. Romero coming up with the treatment.
“I could see how happy George was, almost giddy,” recalls Knetter. “That made us focus even more on bringing this to life the way he would have wanted.”
Lucas, a lifelong Romero fan, says “developing the final piece of the puzzle in the dead universe” was a dream come true.
Suzanne Romero is now ready for meetings to find the right director to complete George A. Romero’s zombie saga.
“This is the film he wanted to make. And while someone else will carry the torch as the director, it is very much a George A. Romero film,” says Suzanne Romero.
Suzanne Romero also runs the George A. Romero Foundation, which seeks to preserve the filmmaker’s legacy and empower indie filmmakers. She is repped by Chris Roe Management.
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