David Fincher‘s upcoming Netflix movie, “The Killer” starring Michael Fassbender, was supposed to shoot this fall in Paris with Oscar-winning “Mank” cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt behind the camera. That’s now slightly changed, but we’ve also received confirmation about something we’ve been hearing about for months: Tilda Swinton is going to co-star in the assassin thriller based on a French graphic novel series.
Asked about her participation by Playlist contributor Charles Bramesco in a just-completed interview about Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s dreamy, hypnotic NEON film, “Memoria” (our review) which she stars and comes on later this year, Swinton confirmed. “Well, yes, I think I am, yes,” she said with a surprised smile. “But that’s next year. That’s a whole other story!” she added.
Presumably, Weerasethakul is much different from working with Fincher, we asked. “Well, always! That’s the thing. Every filmmaker is a unique individual, just as each person is a unique individual,” she explained (though evaded further details).
Once scheduled to shoot rather soon (her participation in Wes Anderson‘s new film currently shooting in Spain might have been the delay culprit), “The Killer” production is moving to a TBD shoot next year. The production wanted to shoot earlier this year actually but had to wait on Fassbender’s racing schedule. Yes, the actor is a car racing nut and spent much of the summer of 2021 on the racing circuit prepping for Les Mans 2021 (see below). His original window to shoot the film, written by “Seven” screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, was going to be October or November of this year, but that obviously got pushed.
“The Killer” is an adaptation of Alexis Nolent‘s graphic novel series of the same name and follows a cold-blooded assassin (Fassbender) who begins to have a psychological crisis in a world with no moral compass (fun fact, this is different from Andrew Kevin Walker’s “The Killers,” a totally different screenplay and movie). While it’s the first official Fincher/Andrew Kevin Walker team-up since “Seven,” the two filmmakers have been in nearly constant contact ever since: Walker’s done plenty of uncredited rewrites on Fincher films and developed many other films for him that never got made such as “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” yes, Fincher’s unmade ‘Dragon Tattoo‘ sequel and “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.”
Sources tell us Fincher is a little done with prestige movies for the moment and this “The Killer” is going to be a grimy, pulpy movie, as opposed to a film (Fincher’s often made that distinction, to him— “Seven” is a movie, “Mank” is a film).
Furthermore, another fun fact that maybe will have implications down the road? News of “The Killer” broke February 2021, but it was a story I was chasing in the fall of 2020, the problem was much of it was in flux and undecided at the time. In the fall of 2020, insiders told us Fincher was weighing two different film options, “The Killer,” and wait for it, potentially revisiting the sequel to “World War Z” again, a project he almost got off the ground and then Paramount pulled the plug on last minute (we broke that story in the winter of 2019).
But wait, Fincher’s over at Netflix now and has an exclusive deal there. Yes, but as you’ll recall, in February of 2018, Paramount and Netflix started a mutually beneficial relationship with the streamer bought Par’s “Cloverfield Paradox,” and dropped it after the SuperBowl in a surprise release (a technique that surely didn’t work that well since Netflix has never attempted it again). The relationship continued, Paramount sold “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which became an Oscar contender last year, and the Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae comedy “The Lovebirds.” More importantly, “The Killer” was also formerly set up at Paramount, and it’s a project Fincher had been trying to make for 14 years, so clearly there have been further collaborations between the two studios and Fincher.
While nothing was officially arranged, and/or I’m not sure how far conversations between Fincher, Paramount, and Netflix went, there was some supposed there there and an idea on the table for a few months. Ultimately, the idea of “The Killer,” and Fassbender was more enticing, and or less obstacle-laden given all the rights and different various parties. Yet, it’s a curiosity to wonder. Could Fincher even revisit that film with Brad Pitt and some kind of mutual partnership between Paramount and Netflix? That’s above my pay grade, and could be a long-dead notion now, but it’s an interesting thought to consider.
“Memoria” comes out December 26 via NEON, and will be in theaters forever; yep, part of its deal is that it will never go on a streaming service or VOD. More from the Swinton and Weerasethakul interview closer to release. – Additional reporting Charles Bramesco