David Fincher Exits Steve Jobs Biopic after Sony Balks at Demands

     April 14, 2014


David Fincher reteaming with his Oscar-winning The Social Network scribe Aaron Sorkin for an ambitious, non-traditional biopic of visionary Steve Jobs almost seemed too good to be true—and now perhaps it is.  We learned in February that Fincher had entered talks with Sony Pictures to direct the studio’s Steve Jobs film based on a screenplay by Sorkin, but now word comes that Fincher has dropped out of negotiations after Sony balked at the filmmaker’s request for a $10 million payday up front as well as control over the film’s marketing.  Hit the jump to read on.

david-fincher-steve-jobs-movieThe folks over at THR report that Sony is now looking to replace David Fincher as the director of its Steve Jobs movie, adding that the reason for the split has to do with the studio being unwilling to grant Fincher a $10 million upfront fee as well as marketing control.  While Sony and Fincher seemed to get along well on The Social Network, their relationship on Fincher’s follow-up film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was much more acrimonious.  The two didn’t see eye-to-eye on a number of issues pertaining to the $90 million R-rated adaptation, but Sony allowed Fincher to maintain a considerable amount of control over the pic’s marketing including using the tagline “The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas” and creating expensive, metal one-sheets for the film that couldn’t be displayed in theaters.

Seeing as how The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo failed to become an international box office phenomenon like Sony had hoped, it appears that the studio is unwilling to grant Fincher the same amount of creative control over the Steve Jobs film.  As a massive fan of both Fincher and Sorkin, I find this news very disappointing.  Sorkin’s script consists only of three 30-minute scenes that take place before the launch of three major Apple products, and one imagines Fincher could have done wonders with such a novel structure.

THR adds that Fincher could still potentially re-enter negotiations, but it’s unclear how likely that might be.  The Dragon Tattoo wounds appear to be too deep to bridge the gap between Sony and Fincher, which is unfortunate.  While the finished product may not stand towards the top of Fincher’s impressive filmography, the marketing was phenomenal—that first trailer is still one of the best trailers released in years.

Fincher had wanted Christian Bale as the lead if he had signed on to direct the Steve Jobs biopic, but the actor is not attached at this time.  Deep down I’m still hoping something can be worked out and Fincher might come back on the project, but it doesn’t seem likely.  On the brighter side, Fincher’s next film Gone Girl opens in theaters later this fall.

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  • pickaname

    Somebody else said this on the slashfilm comment section, but I would LOVE to see Sony at least offer the project to Darren Aronofsky now that Fincher is out. It’d be really interesting to see what he does with something like this.

    • Person

      I’m sure he’d love to do something relatively low-key after Noah, too.

  • Kota Lancaster

    $10 million? That should be ten times the budget of a movie that’s 3 scenes of conversation before conferences.

    • Jan

      This. I understand Fincher’s a hot commodity and ALWAYS delivers quality stuff, but this sounds like a script that could be shot on the cheap; that $10 million shouldn’t just go into a single person’s pocket with a film of this scale.

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  • Drake

    Boo, hiss

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  • Nathan Ellis Miller

    Definitely a bummer! Two of Hollywood’s great talents working together again, not to mention another potential Trent Reznor/Atticus score. Perhaps he’ll take a percentage on the back end and jump on board.

  • Redjester

    If this allows Fincher to finish up Dragon Tattoo or perhaps direct season 2 of True Detective (wishful thinking), I’m all for it.

    • Jamesy

      Holy F***k, I never even though of Fincher doing season 2 of True Detective but if that happens, wow.

      • bidi

        he won’t. people are only throwing his name out there because season 1 and Fukunaga’s cinematography (color palette) look so similar to Fincher’s. Fincher already did House of Cards. He won’t go back to tv

      • 80sRobot

        If Fincher does TV ever again, I figure it would be something that he controls.

      • Redjester

        Yep, again, wishful thinking!

  • t

    Wow…for all of his supposed talent, Fincher is a greedy bastard. You either take the money and give the marketing to the studio as should be or you say “I’ll take a pay cut, but I want to be on the marketing team.” Not both. What an ego on this guy who has directed one good film (Fight Club). The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is so incredibly pretentious. Bring on the hate.

    • Person

      His only bad movie is Alien 3 and possibly The Game (I hate the ending). Panic Room is good but nothing spectacular, and I could understand if you thought Button was overrated, but it’s certainly not “bad.” Zodiac and Fight Club are masterpieces, Dragon Tattoo is just shy of perfect, Se7en IS perfect except for one scene which brings it down a couple of notches, and the Social Network would’ve been perfect if they had stuck to their guns and went for an R rating.

      • lordjim

        what the hell are you smoking, The Game is certainly one of his better movies, while Panic Room is a complete waste of time and Benjamin Button is a truly horrible hollywood cheese version of the story, not exactly something i like to associate with fincher.anyway zodiac is his best movie, and dragon tattoo would be perfect if it wasn´t for the rather stupid source novel (yeah i know sweden has problems with it´s unresolved nazi past but this is a drawn out pulp novel that does not deserve fincher´s style) and the completely ridiculous ending…
        i really would love to see his take on 20,000 leagues under the sea.


      fincher is a great talent, and benjamin button is a really good film, but i agree with you about the greedy part.

    • The Flobbit

      Everyone of Fincher’s films are special. He casts brilliantly, his grip on atmosphere, tone, and mood are unrivalled anywhere, and his cinematography and visuals are brilliant.

    • James Kilgore

      The man directed good movies, but greedy is a pretty fair word. Fincher I think, thinks this is the 70s and he is Michael Cimino.

  • Person

    As a life-long Fincher fan, I gotta say that Dragon Tattoo is one of his three best films. I’d only put Fight Club and Zodiac on top of it. It’s a masterpiece, and the fact that’ll probably never get a sequel makes the last shot that much more fantastic. Such a shame that it never caught on at the box office, but I’d blame that more on the release date than the marketing. Fincher should be allowed to do whatever he wants for the Steve Jobs pic; it’s Steve Jobs, and it’s by the guys who did Social Network – people are gonna line up to see this. Just keep it PG-13 and there’s shouldn’t be a big deal (I’d prefer an R but I’m talking realistically here).

    • ColinJ

      I, too, thought Fincher’s DRAGON TATTOO was superb.

      • Redjester

        One of my favorite films that year as well. High rewatch value (minus the rape scenes).

  • Alex Hajna

    Darren Aronosfsky, Derek Cianfrance, Denis Villeneuve, or Duncan Jones would be my choices, in no particular order.

    • Brook

      I would add Cary Fukunaga, Paul Thomas Anderson, Tom Hooper, Stephen Frears, Steven Soderbergh, Bennett Miller, Nicolas Winding Refn, Rian Johnson, Jason Reitman, Tomas Alfredson, Matthew Vaughn,
      Martin McDonagh, John Hillcoat, Jonathan Levine, Scott Cooper, Andrew Dominik, and Matt Reeves, in no particular order.

      • Redjester

        You both have excellent taste in directors, btw.

      • The Destroyer

        Soderbergh might work, he has a visual uniqueness that might go well with Sorkin’s writing style.

  • Dan

    I don’t give a rat’s ass whether Fincher is greedy or not. His last two films (TSN, TGWTDT) have racked up the studio 14 Oscar nominations and 4 wins, and were more or less critically pristine (96%, 87% on RT). As for the acrimonious relation between Sony and Fincher over TGWTDT and its box office? Well, the movie tackled decidedly adult material (sexual assault, sexual politics, and violence) in an decidedly adult manner – I’m not so sure about the studio’s intentions if they decide that should, in their minds, be amped up as “entertainment value” and sizable box office returns when it should be taken for what it is: a drama tackling tough issues.

    Sony should have given Fincher the money and marketing control. He probably would have made a very good, yet nonstandard and compelling biopic, sold the movie accurately and well (As this is a technology behemoth who just recently passed away, there is nothing more tasteless then falsely representing him in marketing and media depictions. Fincher is known for his meticulousness and attention to veracity, which hopefully would not make this a problem.), and brought the studio quite a few Oscar nods.

    • James Kilgore

      This is not the 70s and he can’t just demand up front fees from studios.

  • Harvard Connection

    Yeah, the guy who was able to make an Academy Award winning movie about Facebook (should have won Best Picture too. Fuck you Kings Speech.) should be the one making this. Plus Sorkin? With the potential of Bale starring? I mean, that has all the makings for a great movie! COME ON!

    • James Kilgore

      Well you see when a director begins by demanding upfront fees on a movie.

  • Bo

    He asked what he thought he was worth. They didn’t think he was so he ain’t got the job. Pretty simple.

  • Eliza

    Hire Bennett Miller. He knocked Capote and Moneyball out of the park.

  • Enough Jobs

    Good. Fincher has much better things to do.

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  • Liderc

    I too wish he would continue the trilogy. It made money, i just wonder if it’s stuck because Daniel Craig’s Skyfall made a billion dollars and now he’s too big for a smaller film.

  • Person

    I remember reading somewhere that the main holdup isn’t Zaillian (who’s had more than enough time to write the scripts), isn’t Mara (who is contracted), and isn’t Fincher (whose schedule may have just freed up considerably if he’s not doing Jobs), but is Craig, because he supposedly wants more money. He got a fat payday on Skyfall and is now looking to up his fee for all movies (I think that’s why he got dropped from Monuments Men, too).