If you invest more than 100 million bucks into a production, obviously you want to make sure that production performs the best it can. And with a running length of more than two hours studios generally don't seem to feel too comfortable.
Since it's been brought up before, that "The Curious Case ..." might have a somewhat similar (epic, romantic) feel as Eric Roth's huge box-office success "Forrest Gump", I truly don't understand what the fuzz is: "Forrest Gump" is one great masterpiece of a film ... and it runs 142 minutes! To be frank, I don't think that the complexities of a Roth script cannot so easily be reduced to less than 140, which is why if you sift through his filmography you are not so likely to find any script or film that would make for Hollywood's ideal 110 pages, or 90 to 110 minutes.
Now the critical reception of 20 minutes of footage from the film at the Telluride Festival seems to add further weight to Paramount's scepticism. I firmly believe, from what I have gathered about that first showing, that you cannot built empathy for the characters or develop a feel for the overall flow of the narration by isolated scenes from the film -- which attendees described as "dragging" in parts.
If one thing, I personally never felt a Fincher film drag, even though that is an aspect that has been brought up by many about the running length of "Zodiac".
And if I were to give David Fincher a good advice, it's to follow the example of german director Wolfgang Becker, who had an equally hard time bringing down the length of "Good Bye Lenin": Becker hired trusted and befriended director Tim Tykwer to come in and do a harsh cut of everything that didn't absolutely have to be in the film. He came back a week later ... and one hour of his film was gone! I believe it was in the director's commentary that Becker said at first he wanted to smack Tykwer's head in. But after a while he came away with a very focused and very well working cut of his film!
At any rate, I am confident Fincher will resolve these issues, and I am very much looking forward to seeing his latest accomplishment -- at its full length, and with all scenes in order!
Thanks to Christophe, who has contributed an interesting article over at slashfilm, further expanding on that feud between Par and Fincher: