Director’s Chair Introduction: David Fincher

by Tony Cogan · March 15, 2021 · Director's Chair, Uncategorized · No Comments

Deadline: 10th April 2021

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Hello everyone, sorry for the delay in getting this out but it’s time to announce the featured director for March and this month the featured director is David Fincher.

Fincher got his start working in visual effects, employed by ILM, doing work on stuff like Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He soon left ILM to direct a TV commercial and through this was offered the chance to direct a documentary. From this, he co-founded Propaganda Films, which specialised in TV commercials and music videos, with directors like Michael Bay, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze and Zack Snyder working for the studio. At this time, Fincher had success directing music videos for people like Michael Jackson, Billy Idol and, most notably, Madonna, with Fincher directing the videos for Vogue and Express Yourself.

For his feature film debut, Fincher was hired to replace Vincent Ward as director of Alien 3, but it was not a positive experience. With constant studio interference and numerous abandoned scripts, Fincher has ended up disowning the film. The poor experience Fincher had with Alien 3 almost put Fincher off directing more films, until he read the original script for Seven, agreeing to direct the film, demanding that the original ending was retained, with Fincher getting backing from Brad Pitt on it. Upon release, it was critically lauded and was a financial success, earning more than $300 million at the box office.

Following the success of Seven, Fincher went on to direct The Game. Originally wanting to direct The Game first, the availability of Brad Pitt meant that Seven got priority. The success of Seven though meant that Fincher was able to have a higher budget for The Game. Upon release, The Game received positive reviews but only performed moderately at the box office.

After Seven, Fincher directed Fight Club, after Peter Jackson, Danny Boyle and Bryan Singer all declined. Upon release, Fight Club was fiercely debated by critics, being compared to A Clockwork Orange, with the film inspiring a few real life fight clubs. Over the years, Fight Club has obtained a cult following, although it is still debated, although, to me at least, quite a few of the more vocal fans of Fight Club didn’t really get what it was actually saying.

Around the time of the release of Fight Club, Fincher was on the shortlist to direct Spider-Man, although his darker take on the story was rejected in favour of Sam Raimi’s. Instead, Fincher went on to direct the thriller Panic Room, which was a box office success upon release.

Five years after Panic Room, Fincher directed Zodiac, doing extensive research on the subject matter and it ended up being the first of Fincher’s films shot on digital. Despite critical acclaim, with only No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood appearing on more critics lists than Zodiac, it struggled at the box office and the campaigning of Paramount did not result in any major awards nominations at the Oscars or Golden Globes.

Fincher’s next project was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which ended up being the first film Fincher got a Best Director Oscar nomination for. Whilst there was some criticism over its length, the film was a success, with the aging effects on Brad Pitt being particularly acclaimed.

Following the success of Benjamin Button, Fincher directed The Social Network, working on a script by Aaron Sorkin. Upon release, the film was heavily acclaimed, being one of the defining films of the 2010s and being nominated for numerous awards, winning Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Original Score at the Oscars. It losing Best Picture to The King’s Speech is still a point of contention for some film fans, and there is a bit of a growing consensus that if the ceremony was held now, The Social Network would win.

Fincher returned to thrillers with his next film, directing the second adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It was acclaimed upon release, although there is some debate over whether or not it was necessary given the earlier Swedish adaptation, with it winning Best Editing at the Oscars. After this, Fincher went on to direct an adaptation of Gone Girl, working extensively with the book’s author Gillian Flynn on the film, and making pretty much perfect use of Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. There were plans for Fincher to work with Flynn again on an American remake of the cult UK series Utopia for HBO, but those plans fell through and Flynn ended up taking the show to Amazon without Fincher.

At this time, Fincher did more TV work, directing a few episodes of House of Cards and creating the series Mindhunter and he was announced as the director for a sequel to World War Z, although this ended up being cancelled. He ended up returning to film directing a script his dad wrote in the 1990s, and which he intended to direct after The Game with Mank. Following the idea that Herman Mankiewicz was the main driving force behind the script for Citizen Kane, the film originally wasn’t made due to Fincher’s insistence on shooting the film in black and white, to evoke the feel of Old Hollywood. Whilst the financial success of the film is hard to judge, given its release on Netflix and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the film was a critical success, and is the film with the most nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards.

For the future, Fincher has mulled with directing a new adaptation of Strangers on a Train and it is reported that he is directing an adaptation of the graphic novel The Killer for Netflix, but at this point it is a bit too early to tell what Fincher will do next.

As a reminder, the films of Fincher’s you can cover are listed below.

  • Alien 3
  • Seven
  • The Game
  • Fight Club
  • Panic Room
  • Zodiac
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Social Network
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • Gone Girl
  • Mank

I look forward to reading what you send me.