Army of Thieves is a prequel to Zack Snyder’s Netflix movie ‘Army of the Dead’. The movie goes into the origin story of the safe cracker – Ludwig Dieter. Zack Snyder, along with his wife, Deborah Snyder and their producing partner Wesley Coller act as producers for the film. Here, they talk about their ideas and plans for the army of the dead universe and how the movie, Army of thieves came about.
Q. Whose idea was it to make this prequel focused on Ludwig Dieter?
Zack Snyder: We knew we wanted to make a prequel, and when we were shooting Army of the Dead, I had been watching Matthias every day and thought, “Holy shit, this guy’s amazing.” And then I had this idea that maybe we could do something like The Italian Job, kind of a romantic comedy, something genre-busting.
Deborah Snyder: When we were looking to cast Dieter in the original movie, we couldn’t find the right person for a very long time. Matthias put himself on tape in Germany and it was just so spot-on of what we imagined this character to be — to have this naiveté and charm and still be believable as this master safe cracker. It was a very tricky balancing act of what we needed, and he just got it on the first round. It was incredible.
Q. How familiar were you with Matthias’ work in Germany?
Zack Snyder: We had seen him in Valkyrie [as Lieutenant Herber], but we weren’t aware of his fame in Germany.
Deborah Snyder: Yeah, and also his directing résumé. He’s directed quite a bit. So, when we pitched him this idea, he said, “Well, I am a director also.” We knew he had a production company, but we weren’t intimately familiar with his work, and we started to watch some of it, and we were like, “Oh, he’s very talented, not just as an actor, but as a director.” And he was so invested and excited about the project that it was a no-brainer for us because we knew that he would give 100 percent and he had the talent to back it up.
Q. The characters in the Army of the Dead were so fully formed that you could have done a prequel focused on any of them. Why did you think fans would want to know more about Dieter?
Zack Snyder: One of the things I liked about using Dieter’s character was the way it plugged into the mythology with the safes and the Götterdämmerung, and the way we were using Norse mythology as a lead-in to Army of the Dead.
Wesley Coller: I think the other exciting part about it is the fact that, tonally, Dieter as a character gave us an opportunity to talk about our prequel in a way that was genre-busting. Army of Thieves is a lighter movie in that there’s humor, and there’s a love story, and there’s a heist and all this stuff that makes the movie fun and carve out its own place while still being connected to and honoring Army of the Dead.
Deborah Snyder: I don’t think anyone’s done a prequel or sequel in a completely different genre. And that’s really a fun thing to do. It takes place in a world where there is a zombie pandemic going on in the United States and it’s causing instability in the financial institutions, so they decided to consolidate the money. But this movie is really about the heist and not about zombies.
Q. Army of Thieves will be released five months after Army of the Dead. How did the production schedules overlap, if at all?
Wesley Coller: We began talking about the prequel while we were shooting Army of the Dead. We discussed what the idea could be and how that could all come together and take shape. Then it was while we were in post-production on Army of the Dead that we got Shay [Hatten] writing pretty quickly. Soon, we were prepping and shooting Army of Thieves while we were concurrently finishing Army of the Dead.
Q. What advice did you give Matthias as a director to maintain consistency between the two films?
Deborah Snyder: We wanted to make sure it had a consistent voice that matched the movie that we were working on. So it was really important to get that script right. And because Matthias had worked on Army of the Dead, I think he had a similar vision because he’d been part of our process.
Zack Snyder: I feel like he was uniquely intimate with the tone that I had created with Army of the Dead after being on set with me for months every day shooting and talking about the movie. And I encouraged him to do his own thing and find where he was comfortable in his own wheelhouse. And even though he was, in the kindest way possible, interested in my opinion on the production, I told him at every turn to just make it his own. And he did a great job.
Q. As Army of Thieves expands this Army universe, are there other ideas for sequels or prequels or other characters you’d like to spin off into side projects?
Zack Snyder: I’m working on a sequel to Army of the Dead, the main sequel, with Shay. And then there’s certainly room in the universe for other stories and other iterations of this story. Especially as you go into the next cycle of films or stories, it has an even larger global reach. We’re also well underway with our Army anime prequel [Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas].
Deborah Snyder: Not to give too much away, but I think the real thing about the anime series is to see the origins of where the zombie outbreak came from. But I think the really great thing about this franchise is that you can come to it in so many different directions, be it the anime first, be it Army of Thieves first, or be it that you’ve already seen Army of the Dead. That’s really unique and not a lot of franchises are built in that way
The Movie Culture Synopsis
Army of Thieves is available to watch worldwide on Netflix since October 29 2021.