David Fincher's candid deal with Netflix: modest projects over Mindhunter

    David Fincher signs with Netflix for four years, with 'Mank' marking his feature film return since 'Gone Girl.'

    <p>David Fincher</p>

    David Fincher

    As the leaves turned amber in November 2020, the film world buzzed with news that David Fincher, the maestro behind critically acclaimed titles like "Fight Club" and "Gone Girl," was setting his sails for a long-term voyage with Netflix. This partnership, which started with the then-upcoming "Mank," was a statement of creative fidelity that now, looking back, feels both daring and prescient.

    The decision to dance exclusively with Netflix

    Fincher's decision to ink an exclusive four-year deal with Netflix emerged from a season of fatigue after directing two gripping seasons of "Mindhunter." In a revealing chat with Premiere, translated from French, Fincher shared a glimpse into his state of mind: "I felt exhausted... I'd rather dedicate one year to a more modest project." This candid admission reflected a turning point, not just for Fincher but for Hollywood's relationship with streaming platforms.

    An intimate look at Fincher's negotiation room

    David Fincher

    One can only imagine the conversation between Fincher and Netflix's top brass—Ted Sarandos and Cindy Holland—as he laid out his cards: "Listen, I don’t see myself gone for two years for a third season; I’d rather dedicate one year to a more modest project." Their swift response, "Ok, what do you have?" led to the green-lighting of "Mank," setting a precedent for how top-tier directors could negotiate their creative futures.

    "Mank": A retrofitted lens on Hollywood's yesteryears

    With "Mank," Fincher dove into the golden age of Hollywood, chronicling screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz's tumultuous journey scripting "Citizen Kane." It was a return to feature directing after a six-year hiatus since "Gone Girl," and it arrived with the kind of fanfare befitting a Fincher project. Netflix's strategic first look in September, coinciding with the 79th anniversary of "Citizen Kane's" release, was a testament to the director's flair for dramatic timing.

    Contemplating the aftermath of "Mank"

    Fincher, ever the realist yet with a streak of dry wit, mused about the possible outcomes post-"Mank": "Depending on how 'Mank' is received, I will either go see them with a low profile... or show up like an arrogant prick and demand to make more black & white movies." Today, with the luxury of hindsight, we can chuckle at the candor of a man who knew the stakes were as high as the potential payoff.

    In the current landscape, where Fincher's foresight has melded into the fabric of Netflix's evolving repertoire, we can look back at this moment as a pivot point—a blend of nostalgia for Hollywood's past and a bold step into its streaming-dominated future. Fincher's exclusive deal might have seemed like a gamble at the time, but now it stands as a harbinger of the symbiotic relationship between visionary directors and the boundless realm of streaming services.

    (Several parts of the text in this article, including the title, were generated with the help of an AI tool.)