David Fincher Rumored To Be Battling Over Budget For The Netflix Series 'House Of Cards'

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by Kevin Jagernauth
March 7, 2012 4:33 PM
8 Comments
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David Fincher is battling higher ups over a project? No way. All kidding aside, Fincher's reputation for being an exacting perfectionist, who seeks that his movies are realized with the best talent and options available, precedes him. We don't need to run down the list here, but Fincher has run afoul of somebody on most of his projects from "Fight Club" right through to "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." So that he's now rumored to be running into a bit of heat on the Netflix series "House Of Cards"? Not exactly unexpected.

THR reports that Fincher is angling for more cash for the series, which already has a $100 million budget from Media Rights Capital (Netflix is not financing the series, just distributing it). It's unclear what the additional budget is for or what Fincher (who is executive producing the show with Kevin Spacey, who also stars) is exactly looking for, but with screenwriter Beau Willimon telling us recently that the scripts for the entire first season of 13 episodes are done (with some re-writing and tweaks to do here and there), it seems the scope is quite large. And Fincher is playing hardball, as he's signed up to direct the first two episodes, though he threatens to walk if the issues can't be resolved.

Reps for MRC claim everything is fine and moving ahead as planned, while other insiders tell the trade that MRC is simply not used to being hands on, preferring to provide financial backing and then let the filmmakers do their thing. But if anyone knows how to stretch a dollar, it's Fincher (remember, "The Social Network" cost $40 million -- a spartan number for the director who has commanded much bigger budgets in recent years). And certainly, his high standards are very well known.

"A lot of people throw words like genius around lightly, I don't and I can truly say the man is brilliant. He's the smartest person I may have ever met in my life and I've met a lot of smart people," Willimon told us recently about working with Fincher. "He is a perfectionist in every great sense of the word, he's involved at every level from the smallest detail to the core vision. And what's incredible about the guy is that he walks into a project knowing what he wants to do and having this incredible vision and then also have the follow through and the talent and the determination to achieve it."

Whether that determination will open the purse strings at MRC remains to be seen, but here's hoping everything can be worked out. Originally slated to start filming this month, production will begin in April with the series to air sometime next year.

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8 Comments

  • Mike | March 8, 2012 1:01 PMReply

    The business model behind this project doesn't make sense to me, without advertising on NF streams how do Media Rights Capital expect to make their money back? I doubt NF's bid covers the $100m cost. International rights would be one thing, but the original series was widely seen in many international markets. In earlier years a Netflix bow could be a good platform to sell physical releases, but that market is now collapsing.

  • Gman | March 8, 2012 9:02 AMReply

    I love David as a director, and he could have all the money he wanted if it was mine. I think he does a consummate job with anything he does, and frankly, Netflix is lucky to have him. Now whether everything he does will make money, that my friend is not so certain. In order to justify adding more to the one hundred million budget they will have to have something so spectacular people will be hocking their grandmother’s jewelry to get it. I can’t see that happening though, for as popular as HBO is for their series, people aren’t signing up for pay TV to get it. No, pay TV is important to me for variety, and I get that already with combining my DISH and Blockbuster @Home. I will be increasing my Blockbuster subscription to two discs so my son can have a game at the same time, but for only ten dollars a month, which includes streaming now, I can’t complain. Netflix will never replace pay TV, which is why we are hearing of a “bundle” option, which I can’t see DISH or Comcast ever being interested in.

  • James | March 8, 2012 4:31 AMReply

    Willimon's comments sound like a euphemism for 'he argues with EVERYONE'.

  • a | March 8, 2012 4:39 PM

    I don't see why he wouldn't. He is in control of the whole thing.

  • kitcon | March 7, 2012 9:37 PMReply

    And budget + John Carter may have pushed Fincher's 20,000 Leagues with Disney back a bit.

  • ffdj | March 7, 2012 9:47 PM

    Just wondering, is this based on anything or just speculation?

  • Lemuel Pitkin | March 7, 2012 5:31 PMReply

    Is "spartan" really the adjective for a $40M movie about frat boys fighting over a website?

  • a | March 7, 2012 9:05 PM

    "a spartan number." The adjective is for the number, not the movie, obviously.

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