Paramount Loses Rights for David Fincher's Torso
by Brandon Lee Tenney
January 23, 2009
As you all have probably heard, David Fincher's Curious Case of Benjamin Button racked up 13 Oscar nominations yesterday. So what's next for Fincher? His door must be hanging off its hinges from all those who've been knockin', right? Well, Paramount doesn't seem to care about Fincher's success with Benjamin Button, because, as HR is reporting, they've allowed the rights option on Torso, the graphic novel upon which Fincher's supposed next film will be based, to lapse. Might this have something to do with those fights we heard about? Torso is written by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Andreyko and recounts the true story of the "Torso Murderer", a serial killer active from 1934 to 1938. So what happened?
If you've been keeping track, last year we covered Torso's development where producer Bill Mechanic said "it would be the next thing up [for Fincher]." We also reported on Matt Damon's interest in the project, and it's been noted that Casey Affleck has shown some interest as well. But let's back up to the beginning. Todd McFarlane (creator of "Spawn") originally optioned the comic and had Bendis and Andreyko write a script for Dimension. Nothing happened. Later, producer Don Murphy took the property to producer Bill Mechanic who then brought Fincher on board. They then took the whole package to Paramount in 2006, who decided to hire Ehren Kruger to write a fresh adaptation. Again, the project stagnated. And last month, Paramount missed their ability to extend the rights option as per the original deal and "Torso" has now reverted back to its original authors. But Fincher and the producers remain attached.
Now, it's no wonder why Paramount has refused to put up the dough to extend its rights option. There's an increasing money concern in Hollywood, and Fincher doesn't exactly make cheap films. In fact, Fincher usually doesn't work without a 9-digit budget. That kind of risk just doesn't make sound business sense in an ailing economy. But it was with Paramount that Fincher made Benjamin Button and Zodiac before. Not to mention that Fincher's return to the serial killer crime drama must be something that Paramount would be eager to be a part of, right? Especially if he can capture the style of Fight Club, a film that's been used as analogous to what Torso may become.
Regardless, let's hope Paramount comes through here. This is a project I really want to see. With Fincher at his best when surrounded by the twisted minds of serial killers and those hunting them, Torso needs Fincher as much as Fincher needs Torso. Is Fincher going to have to learn how to make less expensive films or will the studio come through for Torso? Or will it just be ditched and never see the light of day?