The new year is almost upon us and it goes without saying that David Fincher’s “Mank” is one of the most highly anticipated films of 2020, right up there with Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley,” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.” “Mank” is Fincher’s first feature directorial effort since 2014’s “Gone Girl” and marks a reunion between the director and Netflix, the home of his serial killer drama series “Mindhunter.” Fincher’s longtime location manager William Doyle told Daily Press just before Christmas that “Mank” is roughly 50% done with principal photography.
The “Mank” production spent most of December filming at Kemper Campbell Ranch in Victorville, California. Doyle was keen on using the ranch for “Mank” considering the location has direct ties to the film’s storyline. “Mank,” written by the director’s late father Jack Fincher, tells the true story of Herman J. Mankiewicz as he sets out to write the script for Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane.” Mankiewicz, played by Gary Oldman in Fincher’s movie, won an Oscar for the screenplay. Doyle teases that “Mank” is “not just a biopic about” the legendary writer.
Mankiewicz was a notorious drinker and suffered a leg injury in a car crash, so Welles brought the screenwriter to the Kemper Campbell Ranch so that he could work on “Citizen Kane” without distractions. Mankiewicz spent two months at the dry ranch and wrote hundreds of draft pages of the “Kane” script for Welles to edit. Because of Mankiewicz’s ties to the ranch, it was of the upmost importance to Doyle to have the production film there.
“The place hasn't changed,” Doyle said. “You get over that hill into that ranch, and you're in this tiny time capsule. Here you are where Herman Mankiewicz really sat, and stood and wrote this story.”
In addition to Oldman as Mankiewicz, “Mank” also features Amanda Seyfried as actress Marion Davies, Lily Collins as Mankiewicz’s secretary Rita Alexander, Tuppence Middleton as wife Sara Mankiewicz, and “The Souvenir” breakout Tom Burke as Orson Welles. The film will also reunite Fincher with his longtime composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who won the Oscar for their work on “The Social Network.” Reznor recently told Revolver that he would only being used period-authentic instruments to compose the “Mank” score. The film is set in the 1940s.
“We’re not gonna be using the modular synthesizer on that one,” Reznor said. “We think we’re gonna be period authentic, so it just creates a new set of challenges.”
Netflix has not announced a release date for “Mank” yet but the film is expected to be ready for a fall 2020 debut.
“Succession” is one of HBO’s most acclaimed drama series and an Emmy frontrunner in 2020, and its popularity has been bolstered in part by its addicting opening credits sequence. The 90-second sequence is set to Nicholas Britell’s Emmy-winning original theme music and cuts together footage of the New York City skyline with home video footage of the Roy family. The grainy home videos remind viewers about the privilege and isolation of the Roy family at the start of each episode. It turns out this now-classic opening credits sequence owes a lot of credit David Fincher, who crafted virtually the same sequence to open his 1997 mystery thriller “The Game.” Both openings have been embedded in videos below.
An eagle-eyed Reddit user recently noticed the similarities between the “Succession” and “The Game” opening credits and brought it to the attention of viewers. Fincher’s 1997 movie begins with grainy home video footage that fills in the backstory of protagonist Nicholas Van Orton, played in the film by Michael Douglas. The clips show Nicholas as a child and his father at the latter’s 48th birthday party, the event where Nicholas’ father committed suicide. The editing, courtesy of James Haygood, cuts the father out of the home videos later in the sequence to reflect his death, similar to how the “Succession” credits removes the faces of the Roy parents to show their disconnection from their children.
“The Game” opened in between Fincher’s “Seven” and “Panic Room” and remains one of the director’s most underrated directorial efforts. Out of all of Fincher’s films, “The Game” is the one that gets talked about the least despite strong reviews and box office nearly $110 million on a $70 million production budget. Anticipation for “The Game” was high since Fincher was coming off “Seven,” so many at the time saw the film as a step down for the director. The plot follows Douglas’ Nicholas after he accepts an offer to compete in a life-changing game, but the game ends up destroying Nicholas’ sense of what’s real and what’s fake. The supporting cast includes Sean Penn, James Rebhorn, Deborah Kara Unger, and Carroll Baker.
Watch the openings of “Succession” and “The Game” in the videos below. It’s only a matter of time before a Fincher fan sets “The Game” opening to Britell’s “Succession” score.