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You can forget that Social Network reunion. David Fincher reportedly is out as the director of the Steve Jobs biopic that would have reunited him with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and producer Scott Rudin.
THR reports that Sony’s actively seeking a replacement filmmaker after Fincher sought "a hefty $10 million up front in fees, as well as control over marketing" while negotiating terms with the studio. The trade goes on to talk about the odd demands Fincher made while working with Sony on the underperforming The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They cite an example where Fincher "had the studio create metal, razor-blade-shaped one-sheet materials for the film that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce but were not suitable for display in theaters."
The trade off for such unusual requests is that Fincher normally delivers a masterpiece. He’s the brain behind such brilliant films as Se7en, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and, his greatest film, Zodiac. If I’m running a studio, I’m handing a blank check to Fincher and telling him how much I can’t wait to see what he comes back with. Bathe in the glory of this Zodiac trailer.
Sony disagrees. To be fair, they have had to deal with Fincher more often than I have, so their decision might be justified. The sticking point seems to be that Fincher wants that money up front. Sources close to the negotiations tell THR that a Steve Jobs biopic doesn’t carry the guarantee of success that a superhero property would, and it makes sense for Fincher to be rewarded AFTER the project turns a profit, not before. A Steve Jobs biopic penned by Sorkin and directed by Fincher sounds like it has legit Oscar potential. But in this current state, Sony is not willing to put its chips on Fincher’s side of the table, so someone else will have to step up to the plate.
Sorkin’s screenplay supposedly takes place in three long scenes, giving it a very unique structure Fincher wanted Christian Bale to play the lead, but the actor had yet to sign. As you recall, we recently had a Jobs biopic with Ashton Kutcher playing the wunderkind inventor. Now we need a new voice to step up and take the reigns. Who’ll helm Sorkin’s Steve Jobs movie in place of Fincher? Will it look any different than this, now that a visionary director like Fincher has been shown the door?