While many of the most anticipated movies of 2020 have been pushed back to 2021, Netflix’s annual late-year slate is being released as scheduled, and whatever form the Oscars take for this year, there’s a good chance Netflix will compete heavily, as it did with “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” last year and “Roma” the year before.
One of the movies on Netflix’s awards slate this fall is “Mank,” the first movie from director David Fincher since “Gone Girl,” six years ago. The film, based on an old script by Fincher’s father, Jack, is about Herman J. Mankiewicz, the screenwriter of “Citizen Kane,” and his feuds with Orson Welles over that movie, specifically over which of them would receive writing credit. Gary Oldman stars in the film as Mankiewicz, and the cast also includes Tom Burke as Welles, Charles Dance as William Randolph Heart, and Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies.
There had been some mystery throughout the fall of exactly when “Mank” might be released, as original talk had stated that it would arrive sometime in October. But Netflix finally announced this week that “Mank” will arrive on the service December 4.
A limited theatrical release is also expected for the film in November, in whichever theaters are open at that time.
Now, Netflix has a released a trailer, making it clear that the film is in black and white, while taking on a 1940s feel, including crediting the film to “Netflix International Pictures.”
“David Fincher’s MANK is a scathing social critique of 1930s Hollywood through the eyes of alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane,” the Netflix tweet about the film says.
Fincher’s other films as director include “Alien 3,” “Seven, “The Game,” “Fight Club,” “Panic Room,” “Zodiac,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Social Network,” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
In the years since “Gone Girl,” Fincher has been associated with TV shows, executive producing and directing on the Netflix series “Mindhunter.” He also worked on a series of shows for HBO, such as “Utopia,” “Shakedown,” and “Videosyncrazy.” None of the shows ever saw the light of day, although “Utopia” was revived, under the control of “Gone Girl” screenwriter Gillian Flynn, and it debuted on Amazon Prime Video last month. Fincher was also set at one point to director a sequel to “World War Z,” but that fell apart as well.
There was another making-of movie about “Citizen Kane,” called “RKO 281,” which aired on HBO in 1999, after its script had a reputation as one of the best unproduced ones in Hollywood. In that movie, directed by Benjamin Ross, Liev Schreiber played Welles, John Malkovich was Mankiewicz, and James Cromwell played Hearst, alongside Melanie Griffith as Davies.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.