David Fincher opens up on why his axed HBO series went from 'Utopia' to dystopia

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Oct 19, 2017

Director David Fincher is well-known for his bleak depictions of society (Fight Club, Seven, Gone Girl, Zodiac) as well as his meticulous style of filmmaking that includes dozens of takes to get a scene just right.

He's a stickler for perfection, detail (sometimes relying heavily on CGI to get it just right), and washed out color correction that take you into cynical worlds of deep blues, oranges and greys. All of these things make his movies and TV shows look unique while also giving them their own moody atmospheres. 

And while many are eager to work with Fincher as well as see what he comes out with next, his projects don't always pan out. Take, for instance, the adaptation of the British series Utopia he was working on after Gone Girl, which fell apart at the last possible minute due to money, Fincher explained on Empire's podcast

“Utopia was something at HBO that I desperately wanted to do and I thought we had really, really good scripts and a great cast and we were getting ready to do that and you know it came down to $9 million," he said about the show, which was to be adapted by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn and star Rooney Mara (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and Jason Ritter (Kevin Probably Saves the World) "In the end, when you actually kind of lay it all out, $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 ... The only area that’s going to have to shrink by 10% is the amount of time that you have with the actors.”

Utopia tells the story of a group of people who come across a graphic novel that basically predicts the future, which puts them under the scrutiny of a shady orginization known simply as The Network. This thriller/drama of mystery, end of days mentality, and a high-reaching organization with nefarious purposes would have been right up Fincher's alley. Moreover, he wanted it to run in the summer to be in competition with all big studio blockbusters.

"Our version of it was we were attempting to do something that would allow HBO to run something in the summer during kind of you know spandex blockbuster tentpole time, and I wanted to make a show that would sort of rival the tentpole movies maybe not in terms of the CG or how much the universe is gonna explode, but in terms of twists and turns," he said

However, just because HBO pulled the rug out from Fincher's feet doesn't mean the network is just abandoning the show. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network is still open to pursuing it with a different director. Still, the same article posits that there's no bad blood between the two parties and that Fincher will return to helm the 1980s music comedy, Videosyncrasy, a departure from his usual crime thrillers. He's also currently developing the World War Z sequel as director, which would be his first outright sci-fi film since Alien 3 (which he's essentially disowned), which would be totally cool.

In the meantime, you can satiate your Fincher lust with Netflix shows, House of Cards and Mindhunter, both of which are produced by Fincher — with a bunch of episodes directed by him.