david fincher on hollywood

David Fincher is famous (or maybe infamous) for being brutally honest, and the Mank director is certainly not holding his tongue when it comes to Hollywood and the “Happy Meal” tentpole movies that have taken over the entertainment landscape. Though Fincher doesn’t name names, the filmmaker behind The Social Network, Gone Girl, and the upcoming Netflix drama Mank is not happy with how Hollywood has become so dominated by superhero franchises and remakes that the movie slate has diminished to “only two seasons for movies.” According to Fincher: “There’s ‘spandex summer’ and there’s ‘affliction winter.'”

In a new interview with Total Film magazine, David Fincher bluntly gave his opinion on the state of Hollywood in 2020: “Unless you’re making a tentpole movie that has a Happy Meal component to it, no one’s interested.”

Fincher is referring to the abundance of big-budget superhero blockbusters and franchise remakes that have come to dominate Hollywood over the past decade, which have fundamentally changed the Hollywood landscape. Not so long ago, mid-budget movies could survive and even become box office hits in the summer. Now, they’re likely to die before they even get to the big screen, with studios unwilling to take the risk on a film that doesn’t star a superhero or a recognizable IP.

The way this has changed the theatrical release calendar grinded Fincher’s gears in particular, with the director lamenting that if films don’t fall in the category of tentpole or awards movie, they’re dumped:

“Look, the only reason we have these kind of conversations is because of the lack of imagination on behalf of the people who have behaviourally modified the audience’s expectations. There’s really only two seasons for movies. There’s ‘spandex summer’ and there’s ‘affliction winter.’ You’re making your movie for one of two seasons. And if you miss, you’ll fall into one of those other two seasons, which are nominally dumping grounds. Does that make sense?”

That makes it difficult for filmmakers behind mid-budget movies or ambitious dramas to get their projects greenlit by a studio, which is why Fincher, like so many other auteurs, found a home at Netflix. The streamer was the home of the television shows he worked on, Mindhunter and House of Cards, and it’s set to debut his new drama Mank, a sweeping critique of the Hollywood studio system shot in black-and-white and created to look and sound like it was made in the 1930s. It’s the kind of hard-to-market film that has made Netflix so enticing to filmmakers like Fincher, Martin Scorsese, and Guillermo del Toro. That, and the fact that once Mank launches on Netflix, it will live on the streamer indefinitely. Fincher added:

“It’s not particularly a smart business plan to make a love letter to another movie that’s on [rival streaming service] HBO Max…But, listen, if we only did the stuff that was smart, there’d probably only be Marvel and Star Wars and Jurassic Park movies.”

But Netflix is playing it smart with Mank‘s release: with a November release first in select theaters, then on the streaming platform in December, which lands the Gary Oldman-starring drama smack dab in the middle of awards season, during which the streamer will likely campaign hard to make Mank an Oscar frontrunner. Fincher knows it, joking, “I’m not really just a jaded fuck. I’m an informed, jaded fuck.”

Mank is scheduled to be released in a limited theatrical release on November 13, 2020, before beginning to stream on Netflix on December 4, 2020. Read our review of Mank here.

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