Facebook Is Displeased With Its Portrayal in ‘The Social Network’ and Lobbied for Changes to Script That Weren’t Made
Posted on Friday, August 20th, 2010 by David Chen
David Fincher’s The Social Network is one of /Film’s most anticipated films of the year, and it will soon be upon us. The New York Film Festival is premiering the film next month, but the buzz from those who have seen it already is overwhelmingly positive.
One place that’s not a source of praise for the film, however, is the company on which the film is based. Top Facebook executives have already seen the movie and they aren’t fans, believing it to be loaded with fabrications. Zuckerberg himself recently declared that the film and the book, Accidental Billionaires, on which it’s based on are “fiction.” Hit the jump for more details on the conflict between Facebook: The Company and Facebook: The Movie.
The New York Times has the story about the tensions between the filmmakers and company executives. According to the article, which seems largely based on interviews with The Social Network producer Scott Rudin, Facebook lobbied for substantial changes to the script that were never made:
Mr. Rudin described months of backdoor contacts during which he tried to ease relations with Mr. Zuckerberg by letting colleagues of the Facebook chief read the script, and even by accommodating them with small changes. Facebook had insisted on bigger changes, which the producers declined to make. In the end, Mr. Rudin said, “We made exactly the movie we wanted to make.”
It’s interesting to speculate what type of changes the company might have wanted, but the Times piece already mentions one scene that Facebook probably doesn’t want itself associated with:
The film is also sprinkled with scenes of extravagant parties, and it is not clear how authentic they are. As of this week, Mr. Rudin said, one remaining question was to what extent the finished film would include a scene that depicted Sean Parker, the Napster co-founder who was heavily involved with Facebook’s early history, delivering his dialogue while a pair of teenage girls offer partygoers lines of cocaine from bared breasts…Mr. Rudin said his main concern about the scene involved how much could be shown without compromising the movie’s hoped-for PG-13 rating.
One of the sources of controversy is the book on which the film is based. Ben Mezrich’s Accidental Billionaires has already been shown to be highly inaccurate. Mezrich evidently played up or outright invented many of the “sexy” elements of the book, and even exaggerated Zuckerberg’s basic impetus to start the site. “It’s crazy because all of a sudden Mark becomes this person who created Facebook to get girls or to gain power,” said Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. “That’s not what was going on. It was a little more boring and quotidian than that.” For his part, Mezrich has already made his argument for why he portrayed Zuckerberg in this way, saying, “The impetus of everything in college, I think, is to get laid…I know that was my whole purpose in becoming a writer. I think that in general that’s why everybody does everything.”
While I’m confident of Sorkin and Fincher’s ability to craft a gripping story, The Social Network sounds like it will be drawing its facts from one long game of movie “telephone.” Thus far, the company’s strategy towards the film has been to just ignore it. But can it continue to do so for a film that promises to so effectively capture the cultural zeitgeist? We shall soon find out.