It’s like director David Fincher‘s ear is ringing today or something. We revealed a little one-two punch today: the filmmaker’s “World War Z” sequel is not shooting anytime soon, despite some reports, but “Mindhunter” season two is and extremely soon (and we know who’s directing).
A third piece of David Fincher-ish ephemera is out there today in the news too. The good news is that “Utopia,” the adaptation of the U.K. series adapted by “Gone Girl” author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn is back in the works. The bad news is it’s without her director David Fincher, who had originally set up the project with Flynn at HBO and its original star Rooney Mara.
Amazon Studios, who must have bought the rights back from HBO, has given a nine-episode, straight-to-series order for Gillian Flynn’s reboot of the drama. This new version of “Utopia” is essentially the same, but with Flynn now as the showrunner and obviously not including the “Gone Girl” filmmaker who is a bit, how shall we say it, notoriously expensive and/or not one to compromise on cutting any corners for the budget (Fincher had planned to shoot the entire series front to back too).
Amazon has also given Flynn— who also wrote “Sharp Objects” that has been adapted by HBO starring Amy Adams that will debut later this year— an overall deal, with Utopia set as the first project under the pact. Based on Dennis Kelly‘s British series of the same name, “Utopia” centers on a group of young adults who meet online, discover a bizarre graphic novel that holds mythic conspiracy theories and they find themselves being tracked down by a merciless organization known merely as “The Network.”
HBO’s version of “Utopia” with Fincher and Flynn came down to budget and specifically, $9 million dollars, according to the filmmaker that he and the cable studio wouldn’t budge on.
“$9 million in the scheme of things doesn’t sound like a huge discrepancy between what we wanted to do and what they wanted to pay for,” Fincher explained last year. “But when you cut $9 million out of $100 million, 10% is not 10% in filmmaking. In filmmaking terms, you’re gonna have the same amount of drivers, you’re gonna have the same amount of accountants, you’re gonna have the same amount of costumers, you’re gonna have the same amount of stunt people. The only area that’s going to have to shrink by 10% is the amount of time that you have with the actors.”
And clearly, Fincher wouldn’t budge. What’s interesting, and something that no one seems to really discuss, is how the breakdown of “Utopia” potentially affected the future of television, HBO or at least David Fincher’s relationship with it. HBO and Fincher were planning something of a mini-revolution. He had three shows in development, “Utopia,” “Shakedown,” a 1950s crime noir series with legendary author James Ellroy, and “Videosyncrazy” (sometimes known as “Livin’ On Vide0“), a show based on Fincher’s experience creating iconic music videos in the 1980s during the heyday of the medium with stars like Madonna, Prince, George Michael and more.
“Videosyncrazy” was actually cast and halfway shot, but HBO didn’t love what they were seeing and halted production after a few episodes, eventually quietly deep-sixing the show. One wonders if that speedbump led to the “Utopia” rift. I was told long ago that “Shakedown” is dead and Fincher had totally moved on from HBO. Then he took his wares back to Netflix (you’ll remember he helped set up “House Of Cards” with Kevin Spacey originally) and here we are with “Mindhunter.” Things always change in Hollywood, but if I’m betting, Fincher’s relationship with HBO is long over.
In the meantime, and thanks for indulging the long digression, with “Utopia” back on at Amazon, but in frankly, far less interesting fashion. Here’s the original U.K. trailer for a taste of what the show is meant to be. [THR]