According to multiple reports, the team that turned a movie about the founding of Facebook into an Oscar nominee will not be back together for Sony’s upcoming biopic of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Aaron Sorkin is writing the script and Scott Rudin will be producing, but it now appears that David Fincher will not direct the film. Fincher’s involvement was first rumored in February, and the director had been in talks with Sony to join the project. It was even rumored that Fincher was beginning the casting process as a condition of his attachment – he reportedly wasn’t going to join unless he could get Christian Bale for the leading role.
Bale isn’t attached to the project, but it’s not clear right now if that was a factor in Fincher’s decision. According to a story by THR, Fincher was demanding excessive compensation, both in terms of salary and control over multiple aspects of the project, including the marketing of the film. It’s worth noting that both Sony and Fincher’s representation declined to comment on the story, which doesn’t really confirm or deny anything, but plants the whole business firmly in the rumor mill.
Fincher’s demands, if true, wouldn’t be quite as wholly out of left field as they might at first sound; Fincher negotiated control over a number of marketing aspects of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, another project at Sony. Girl was only moderately successful financially despite carrying Daniel Craig as its lead (this was the movie that made Rooney Mara a widely recognized name, so her box office impact at the time was minimal). Fincher supposedly insisted on the tagline, “The feel bad movie of Christmas,” (you’ll notice the poster below decided instead to focus on the popularity of the source material) and spent excessively on alternate posters that ended up being unusable, which would explain Sony’s hesitance to give him the keys to the marketing kingdom a second time.
Losing out on a director of Fincher’s quality can’t ever be looked on as a positive, but the saving grace is that the movie looks strong in the early going even without him. The throngs of Apple acolytes aside (and maybe that’s where we should leave them as a moviegoing demographic, considering the poor performance of the Ashton Kutcher-starring jOBS last year), the project retains the support of megaproducer Rudin and a finished script from Sorkin. Based on the authorized Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, Sorkin said last November that the “entire movie is going to be three scenes, and three scenes only, that all take place in real time.” Each scene will follow Jobs backstage prior to a product launch: The Macintosh, the NeXT (from the computer hardware/software company Jobs founded between his stints at Apple), and the iPod.
Fincher’s next project, Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck, is slated to hit theaters this October; Sony’s Jobs movie is expected sometime 2016.