Brad Pitt's World War Z film suffered an unexpected setback in the form of Hungarian anti-terrorism authorities at the weekend after a cache of illegal guns were found in among the movie's props. Almost 100 unauthorised weapons were seized by police in Budapest, where the film is currently shooting. Hungarian police initially said they had seized a shipment of weapons stored in a warehouse near Budapest airport, only for a film producer to reveal they were props for the movie.
Police told a news conference they had found and confiscated the arsenal - which included machine guns, hand guns and sniper guns but no ammunition - at a customs-free area near the airport during a raid at dawn on Monday.
"The military guns arrived from London on Saturday at Liszt Ferenc International Airport," Janos Hajdu, director of the police's Counterterrorism Centre, was cited by Hungarian newswire MTI, adding that the aircraft transporting the weapons left the airport right after unloading.
Hajdu acknowledged that it was "possible that all the weapons were brought in for the film, but this would not be allowed by Hungarian law," as the weapons had not been fully deactivated and could easily be used to fire live ammunition. "This is a very complicated case."Hajdu explained that in Hungary weapons were considered to be deactivated only if the process "was irreversible," while the weapons seized could still be fired even though screws had been used to fill the end of the barrels.
Bela Gajdos, a weapons supervisor for World War Z, said Mafilm, a Hungarian film company based near Budapest which had the guns brought to Hungary, had the necessary permits, including a detailed list of the weapons in question, issued by local police authorities.
"We had all the permits in order for the weapons to be brought in," Gajdos told The Associated Press by phone. "They were brought in only for this film and are owned by a company in England."In accordance with British regulations, the weapons were prepared to be used with blank ammunition, Gajdos said, while in Hungary the guns were considered to be "not suitably modified."
Gajdos said he had been questioned by government investigators and that his home in Budapest had been thoroughly searched by security forces before dawn Monday who also confiscated the permits.
Gajdos added that he had not been able to inspect the weapons before the police seized them, but that they would have been checked by him and a Hungarian forensic weapons expert before allowing their use in the film.
"Guns like these are highly illegal to transport even if they were to used as stage guns, which hopefully they weren't," Hajdu Janos, the director of Hungary's Anti-Terrorism Unit, told UsMagazine. Pitt's production company Plan B is producing the film, which is due to be released in 2012. According to the magazine's source, Pitt is furious as World War Z "is already over budget and over schedule."In the film, based on the 2006 novel by Max Brooks, Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a UN employee who following the Zombie apocalypse, scours the world to interview survivors. Shooting in Hungary for the film was to begin on Monday evening in an industrial district of Budapest, and was not delayed by the police action.
Adam Goodman, whose company is providing production services for World War Z, insisted "we are preparing as planned. We are not changing our schedule."He added that media reports claiming the film set had been raided by police to confiscate the weapons were "not true."