By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After tackling zombies and killer cops, film director Edgar Wright melds British small town pub culture with a large scale alien invasion, an offbeat pairing that yielded "The World's End."
"The World's End," out in U.S. theaters on Friday, bookends a flurry of summer films dealing with global catastrophes, from Brad Pitt's zombie-fest in "World War Z," giant aliens versus giant robots in "Pacific Rim" or Seth Rogen and celebrity friends fighting the Biblical rapture in "This Is The End."
Wright's film follows washed-up alcoholic Gary King, who reunites with his high school friends in his hometown to complete what they were not able to as teenagers: the ultimate pub crawl, drinking at 12 pubs in one night.
Played by Simon Pegg, Gary is a flawed hero who is stuck reminiscing about his teenage glory days. He is faced with acknowledging his own arrested development and alcoholism as he and his friends discover an alien invasion and must overcome obstacles to complete their quest at The World's End pub.
"We have a lot of compassion for him, and even though he does some terrible things throughout the movie, at key points he makes the right decision," Wright said.
The film brings the British director back together with long-time collaborators Pegg and Nick Frost, who both starred in Wright's earlier films "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz."
Pegg, who played an average salesman with girlfriend troubles in "Shaun of the Dead" and methodical police officer Nicholas Angel in "Hot Fuzz," said he enjoyed the battle that each of his three characters face as individuals.
"The enemy in this film is the synthesis of zombies and the NWA (Neighbourhood Watch Alliance), it's that small town pride and influence and this collective force to fight against as an individual, whether you're Shaun, Nicholas or Gary," said Pegg, who also co-wrote the "World's End" script with Wright.
THE CORNETTO TRILOGY
"The World's End" wraps up what Wright has labeled his "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy," referring to the British-made ice cream brand that makes an appearance in each film - a red strawberry ice cream to signify the blood and gore in "Shaun of the Dead," blue original Cornetto in "Hot Fuzz" to represent the police, and green mint chocolate chip ice cream in "The World's End" to symbolize the sci-fi alien element.
Wright said the films are thematically linked through topics such as "perpetual adolescence, an individual versus a collective and the loss of identity" but they were not to be regarded as sequels.
"There's that tendency to make a franchise and lead over to a sequel but in all three movies - 'Hot Fuzz,' 'Shaun' and this one - there is no sequel," Wright said.
"For us, it's incredibly free as writers to think we are going to change the planet forever at the end of this movie."
"The World's End" budget was between $20 million and $30 million, according to Wright, and is projected to earn $8.5 million in its opening weekend in U.S. theaters. It has won positive reviews, with a score of 80 out of 100 on review aggregator Metacritic.com.
Wright's films are rooted in quintessential British humor, and the director said he has never been concerned with how the jokes translate internationally.
"If you're making a British film, why try and make it more international because you're then just lying to yourself and other people," Wright said. "When I watch an American film, I don't want them to make it more international for my benefit. I want to see a window into another culture."
(Editing by Mary Milliken and Bill Trott)