Just a couple months after he first entered talks to direct Sony's upcoming Steve Jobs biopic, Oscar-nominated director David Fincher has elected to depart the project.
With Fincher's noted reputation for perfectionism and love of creative control, one might be tempted to assume his exit is due to creative differences with the studio. However, that would be an incorrect assumption in this case, as Fincher is reportedly leaving for primarily financial reasons.
According to THR, Fincher is said to have demanded an upfront payment of $10 million to direct the film, as well as full control over the film's marketing. Both Fincher's reps and Sony have declined to make any public comment on the matter, but a source inside Sony reportedly had this to say:
"You’re not doing 'Transformers' here. You’re not doing 'Captain America.' This is quality — it’s not screaming commerciality. He should be rewarded in success but not up front."
The film, based on Walter Isaacson's acclaimed biography titled Steve Jobs, would have reunited the team behind Sony's previous Oscar favorite The Social Network. Fincher was slated to direct, Aaron Sorkin to write the script, and producer Scott Rudin to oversee the project from an executive capacity.
While it was never officially agreed to, the rumor mill has long asserted that Fincher wanted American Hustle star Christian Bale to headline Sony's Jobs biopic, and it's highly likely that any chance of Bale playing the role left along with Fincher.
One major factor in Sony's refusal to give Fincher the kind of big money deal he desires is said to be the 2013 failures of high budget blockbusters White House Down and After Earth, which made under $100 million domestically on production budgets of $150 and $130 million respectively.
While both films made decent money overseas, the fact of the matter is that a heavily marketed studio film needs to roughly double its budget to be profitable, and neither accomplished that in theaters.
A Steve Jobs biopic obviously won't approach that type of inflated budget number, but Sony is apparently trying to cut costs across the board in 2014, and it seems like Fincher has been caught in the aftermath of that decision.
With Fincher out, it will definitely be interesting to see who Sony deems capable of filling his rather large shoes. If only Steve Jobs were around to come up with a creative solution that no one involved could see coming.
Sony's Steve Jobs biopic is still in pre-production and has no current release date.