David Fincher 20000 leagues

This fall brings the release of Gone Girl, David Fincher‘s first theatrical release since 2011’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. In between the two films, he was circling several others including the Dragon Tattoo follow-up The Girl Who Played with Fire and Disney’s Jules Verne adaptation 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

The latter is definitely dead at this point, with Fincher even offering up an explanation as to where things went wrong. The director sounded a bit more optimistic about The Girl Who Played With Fire, however, predicting that Sony would do “something” with the project. Hit the jump to read his comments on 20000 Leagues and the Dragon Tattoo sequel.

Fincher first became attached to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in 2010, and over the next few years we watched with great interest as he began putting the pieces together. But Disney started waffling in 2012, and by 2013 the project was dead. Fincher left it behind and moved on to Gone Girl instead.

At the time, we heard the big issue between Fincher and the studio came down to casting. Now Fincher has confirmed as much in an interview with Little White Lies (via Brad Pitt Online).

You get over $200 million — all motion picture companies have corporate culture and corporate anxieties. Once we got past the list of people we could cast as the different characters in the film, once we got past one or two names which made them very comfortable, making a movie at that price, it became this bizarre endeavour to find which three names you could rub together to make platinum.

He further explained:

I wanted Aronnax to be French, God forbid! It got to be a little too confusing to me. I had this argument with a studio executive one time where he said to me, ‘why is it that the actors always side with you and we’re paying them?’ And I said, ‘I think it’s because at some level, they know that my only real allegiance is to the movie.’ And because that’s very clear and it never wavers, they may not agree with the image of the movie I have in my head, but they know that’s what I’m after. They’ve seen me for 100 days take the long way around. I think that when you’re trying to put together a handful of people to deliver all those facets of humanity and who work well together, it has to be in service of the narrative and not in service of the balance sheet. It became very hard to appease the anxieties of Disney’s corporate culture with the list of names that allowed everyone to sleep at night. I just wanted to make sure I had the skill-sets I could turn the movie over to. Not worrying about whether they’re big in Japan.

Fincher didn’t offer specifics on which “big in Japan” actors the studio had in mind, but Brad Pitt and Channing Tatum were reportedly among the actors that he had considered for the lead.

Meanwhile, Fincher seemed slightly more optimistic about The Girl Who Played with Fire, which has a script by Steven Zaillian. Last we heard, Andrew Kevin Walker was working on rewrites.

“I think because (Sony) already has spent millions of dollars on the rights and the script, it will result in something,” Fincher told Swedish site Aftonbladet (translation by Film Divider). “The script that we now have has huge potential. I can reveal that it is extremely different from the book.”

Of course, Sony had already sunk $90 million into the first film without getting the return they hoped for. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo made just $102 million domestically and another $132 million abroad. Not disastrous figures, but much lower ones than Sony had hoped for.

At this point, the studio may figure they’re better off cutting their losses and moving on. Craig, Mara, and Fincher are all terribly busy and more in-demand than ever, and after three years the hype surrounding Steig Larsson‘s books seems to have dissipated.

In the meantime, Fincher has plenty of opportunities in front of him. He’s working on a ’50s noir series and a Utopia remake for HBO, and he’s considered re-teaming with Rooney Mara for Red Sparrow.

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