David Fincher seems to have no regrets about his World War Z sequel project’s demise, largely due to the success of The Last Of Us.
David Fincher is about to unleash The Killer on the world, with the film landing on Netflix early next month. Ahead of its launch, he’s been reflecting on the choices that led him to collaborating with Netflix, at least for his last two films and perhaps for future ones too.
The collapse of a World War Z sequel back in 2019 was a key factor in prompting Fincher’s move to Netflix. Although nobody is quite sure on the specifics, Fincher was pretty far into pre-production on a sequel to the 2013 zombie apocalypse flick when Paramount questioned the film’s budget and everything fell apart.
Fincher would go on to work with Netflix for his next project, Mank. The deep-pocketed streaming platform happily funded the Fincher passion project, even though the film possessed little commercial value, given its niche subject matter. Still, it’s a deal that seems to work for both parties, and we wouldn’t be surprised if both Fincher and Netflix extend it again once it ends, reportedly in 2024.
The collapse of the World War Z sequel was definitely a defining moment for Fincher, who has fought plenty of battles with studios over the years – financial or otherwise – that have led to him exiting projects. He’s previously walked away from projects such as The Girl Who Played With Fire and a Strangers On A Train remake to name but two. After World War Z met the same fate, it seems that he sought a creative partner that would guarantee him the kind of control that would allow him to sidestep such conflicts.
When it comes to World War Z, Fincher doesn’t seem to feel like he missed out, although the reason for his sanguine attitude is perhaps surprising: it’s because of The Last Of Us. Speaking about the project’s cancellation to GQ, he said, “It was a little like The Last Of Us. I’m glad that we didn’t do what we were doing, because The Last Of Us has a lot more real estate to explore the same stuff. In our title sequence, we were going to use the little parasite… they used it in their title sequence, and in that wonderful opening with the Dick Cavett, David Frost-style talk show.”
Fincher is right about the HBO adaptation of the Naughty Dog video game having more latitude to tell a richer story. With one season having wowed the world earlier this year and another on the way at some point, the series’ take on a post-civilisation zombie apocalypse simply has more time to spend developing characters, drama and the world in which it’s set.
Perhaps the most interesting thing here about Fincher’s stance is his belief that if his World War Z sequel couldn’t be the definitive take on the genre, he’s uninterested in pursuing it any further. It’s that exacting and uncompromising approach that has led him to helm some wonderful films, but also walk away from others that he feels wouldn’t meet that very high standard.
The Killer launches on Netflix on 10th November.
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