Details On Paramount's And Fincher's Feud Over "Benjamin Button"

There's been a struggle going on behind the scenes of the upcoming Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett love epic "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button": Paramount demands a shorter, tighter cut of the film, which currently weighs in at around 2 hours and 30 minutes, and director David Fincher refuses to make any more cuts. Now a rather poor reception of early footage adds fuel to the fire ...

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:

Slashfilm: Paramount Feuds with David Fincher


  1. Well

    I didn't trust Paramount to market this thing correctly and they are failing admirably thus far.

  2. This Telluride sneak seems to have been handled badly, but without having personally seen the footage I can't really judge. I'm not going to take the word of a handful of internet geeks over my own eyes.
    All I will say is that if 20 mins of 'scene-lets' from 'Zodiac' had been shown to me 4 months prior to release, there is no way I could have envisaged the powerful effect the full-length film eventually had on me. 'Zodiac' HAS to be seen in full to appreciate the film's subtle and complex rhythms, beautiful architecture and sublime pay-off. Without the full picture you don't have the internal references and complete context to truly judge the film. I am certain that come Christmas (please come) it will be just the same with 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'.