David Fincher may have done well for himself on Netflix’s House of Cards, but the acclaimed director is certainly having a rough go of it over on HBO. Production on his ’80s-set music video comedy Videosynchrazy was shut down about two months ago after brass balked at some of the screened footage (by the time they stepped in, Fincher had already shot four or five episodes). And now, Fincher’s other HBO show, conspiracy thriller Utopia, is in trouble as well.
Deadline reports that HBO has yet to hand down a greenlight for the series, which Fincher adapted from the cult U.K. series with Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, because the network and Fincher, who aimed to direct all episodes of the series, can’t agree on a budget. Apparently, the gap between what Fincher needs and what HBO is willing to pay was sizable, and chances that they’ll come to any sort of agreement are growing slimmer by the hour.
At this point, the actors already cast in Utopia, including Rooney Mara, have been released from their contracts, indicating that the pilot may be well and truly dead. The previously set plan was for Fincher to finish prepping Utopia‘s pilot before coming back to work on Videosynchrazy – despite the issues HBO has been having with the helmer, it very much wants to be in business with him.
Now, with both shows in jeopardy, the question becomes whether either would come to pass. HBO has developed a reputation as a refuge for Hollywood A-listers disillusioned with the blockbuster system, so for Fincher to strike out twice would unavoidably damage that standing.
Still, prospects are dire for both series. Videosynchrazy is in even worse shape than Utopia – after HBO abruptly told actors to go home in the middle of production, reports came out that the show was well over budget. Since then, production has not resumed and the crew has been released, with many already lining up new jobs.
Utopia would have focused on a group of people who come across a cult graphic novel that seems to correctly predict future disasters. Hunted by a nefarious and murderous organization known as The Network, the people attempt to prevent the Armageddon depicted in the graphic novel’s pages.
It’s worth noting that HBO almost landed House of Cards before Netflix swooped in to outbid it, topping its pilot offer with a $100 million commitment for 26 episodes. As such, it’s possible Videosyncrazy or Utopia could perhaps live on elsewhere if HBO really does decide to pass. Either way, this is disheartening news for Fincher fans – the director is considered one of the best in the game for a reason, so it would be a shame to see two of his small-screen visions go down in flames.