The Hollywood Reporter runs its second story on David Fincher, Sony and the supposed upcoming Steve Jobs biopic, wherein a source continues to huff and puff their side of the story all the while complaining about what a diva and tyrant Fincher is because of his “excessive” demands. Second story, same unnamed source, same one-sided lament. Let’s put this into the bigger picture. First, what do you do if you have a movie people only barely want to see that without Fincher’s name is even more of a DOA project? What do you do if you want the Fincher name but don’t want to wrestle from him the directorial control that would make the movie worthy of that name?
Put it this way: they need Fincher a lot more than Fincher needs them on this film. Yes, put Fincher and Aaron Sorkin together and you potentially have magic again, as you had with the Social Network. But you don’t hire a guy like Fincher in the first place if you want a director you can lead around by the balls. You say – we trust you because you’re one of the best directors working today, because you do not compromise your principles, nor do you invest time in something that will waste everyone else’s.
Conveniently missing from Masters’ story is Fincher’s side of things, the difficulties on his end on Dragon Tattoo and Social Network. But hey, why bother with those kinds of facts? Let’s get those clicks rolling to help this particular news outlet stay relevant. We live in an era where sexy headlines are the only ones that draw the kinds of traffic numbers websites need to stay afloat. Kim Masters is a reputable journalist with an ear towards scandal but there is something fishy about this story in that it’s entirely one-sided and no one seems to give a damn. I’m not a journalist but even I know that both sides are worth looking into. All we have here is gossip. Nasty gossip at that.
Where the story goes really wrong, however, is in the suggestion that Fincher somehow burdened Sony with marketing demands on Dragon Tattoo. Sony is painted as the victim here and Fincher as the irresponsible tyrant. How convenient to be able to ramble on endlessly telling your side of the story when this reporter couldn’t be bothered to find out how much money Sony spent, the mistakes they made getting Dragon Tattoo made. I’m not an expert on it but even I know the basics there.
Let’s go over this again, shall we? Rooney Mara was an actress Fincher had to fight for every inch of the way on Dragon Tattoo. How did that one end up? Best Actress nomination for Rooney Mara in a film that really had no business getting anywhere near the Dolby. Fincher himself got a DGA nod and to my mind it should have been included in the film lineup for Best Picture – it was that good.
What did Fincher do on House of Cards in a situation where he had much freedom under the Netflix umbrella? Oh, just revolutionized how we watch television, instantly elevated their street cred to where now Netflix is as respected as any other network. He revived Kevin Spacey’s career and did this with a wildly diverse cast — women directors, black directors all in the mix.
So if anyone wants to start complaining about Fincher’s demands I would just say take a big step back, look at the big picture and hire a fucking hack if that’s the kind of production you really want. But if you want a director who will do it the only way he knows how to do it? You invest in a guy who deeply cares about what kinds of films he makes. You stand back and have a little faith, otherwise get your hands out and start reaching for the people who really like being told what to do and how to do it.
I know how this will go because I’m old and I’ve lived through a lot of it already. The industry will hold this story against Fincher, like they did during 2010 when someone floated the notion that he wanted to win the Oscar really badly. The end result of that was a voting body sympathizing more with The King’s Speech and Tom Hooper because they were “nice guys.” This could also be why Vertigo only got two Oscar nods – Sound and Art Direction. Vertigo, arguably among the best films of all time.
I’m not sure why any of this would need to come out in the press if it weren’t for some kind of PR leverage. This is either an attempt to strong arm Fincher into taking the gig (wrong way to go about it), or an effort to bring some publicity to and sympathy for a project that would ordinarily have trouble getting off the ground. After all, wasn’t there already a Steve Jobs biopic with Ashton Kutcher? If Sony wants a list of directors who will do anything to make a movie I have a long one. In fact, you could fill up a football stadium with those names. So why then would they play this game of cat and mouse to smear the name of a man who has done nothing but bring honor and prestige to Sony. He’s more than worth $10 million up front whether he asked for it or not. Transformers, as if!