Did you know it’s been almost five years since a film directed by David Fincher was released to theaters? The beloved filmmaker hasn’t been idle; he’s been working on projects that fell apart or got delayed. (His World War Z sequel, for one, appears to be dead.) He’s also long been in bed with Netflix, helming the maiden episode of House of Cards and shepherding (and partially directing) the serial killer series Mindhunter. That appears to have done the trick, because here’s some good news, courtesy of Deadline: Netflix will be home to his belated follow-up to Gone Girl, namely a biopic of Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz.
Entitled Mank (for his nickname), the film will begin shooting in November, and it will star no less than Gary Oldman. Two more things of note: It will be filmed in black-and-white, and the script was written by one Jack Fincher, the director’s late dad.
You probably know Mankiewicz best as Orson Welles’ co-writer on Kane. While Welles was the new kid in town, Mank had been around since the mid-’20s. Quite the colorful character, he was a reporter who ventured out to Hollywood, where he eked out a long career as a screenwriter, a title writer in the silent era, even a producer. He did uncredited work on many scripts, including The Wizard of Oz; his work as producer on films for the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields was also done on the sly. (His younger brother, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, was even more successful, becoming the director of such titans as All About Eve, Guys and Dolls, and the Elizabeth Taylor Cleopatra.)
Mank’s name is officially on such classics as Dinner at Eight, The Pride of the Yankees and, of course, Kane, for which he shared an Oscar, with Welles, for Best Original Screenplay. (Netflix sure loves Orson, having put up the money to very belatedly finish one of his incomplete masterpieces, The Other Side of the Wind.) It’s not been revealed what part of his life Mank will focus on, though Mankiewicz was a reporter, and so was Fincher the Elder, who was the former bureau chief at Life Magazine.
This news should come as a relief to fans of Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac and, of course, The Game, who’ve long watched as numerous Fincher projects have failed to launch, including his Arthur C. Clarke adaptation Rendezvous with Rama, comic book adaptations of Hard Boiled and Torso, and the Columbine movie The Library. Say what you will about Netflix, but at least they’re giving cinema’s auteurs the money they deserve. Speaking of which, make sure you watch Martin Scorsese’s new Bob Dylan doc Rolling Thunder Revue before The Irishman comes out this winter.