With Mank in limited theaters tomorrow and streaming at the beginning of next month, David Fincher has been making the rounds to discuss the film’s production. A veteran of not only traditional studios but streaming platforms (Netflix most recently produced and distributed Mank along with the recently ended Mindhunter), Fincher has long been vocal about his dissatisfaction with the expectations of modern filmmaking. Two recent interviews particularly highlighted the extent of this frustration—while also confirming that Fincher’s not returning to more traditional avenues any time soon.
Speaking to Premiere, Fincher recounted the relief of being able to work on something smaller after being the showrunner on Mindhunter, and mentioned that he has signed another four-year exclusivity deal with Netflix. As Fincher acridly summated,
“And depending on Mank‘s reception, I’m either going to go sheepishly and ask [Netflix] what I can do to redeem myself, or present myself with the attitude of the arrogant asshole that will demand to make more films in black and white (Laughs.) No, I’m here to deliver ‘content’ to them—whatever that word means—likely to bring them spectators, in my small sphere of influence.”
A recent interview with Total Film reinforced his cynicism about the subject as he took aim at the glut of franchises and the difficulty of making movies that don’t readily fall into a sellable mold. “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.”
Fincher’s own Mank certainly escaped those ostensible “dumping grounds,” but we’re less convinced that he delivered something of comparable substance to the rest of his career. Our own Nick Newman mused, “Mank is, markedly, the least-enjoyable film he’s ever directed, defined by its distended lack of accumulation, friction, traction, or revelation.” But whether the film is seen as a misfire or an inflection point in his career, it seems highly unlikely that Fincher’s going to be the next gun-for-hire on a franchise.
Mank is in limited theaters tomorrow and streams on Netflix on December 4.