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Gary Oldman and David Fincher are teaming to tell the story of Herman Mankiewicz, the newspaper man turned screenwriter who is best known for collaborating with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane.
Mank, the nickname for Mankiewicz, is set up at Netflix, with Fincher making it his next feature with plans to shoot this fall. Oldman will portray the screenwriter who had an outsized influence in the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Keeping in with the classic Hollywood vibe, the film will be in black and white.
Getting Mank before cameras has been a 20-plus-year journey for Fincher, who initially wanted to tackle the story after making his 1997 feature The Game. The director’s father, Jack Fincher, also a newspaper man, wrote the script.
Cean Chaffin, Fincher’s longtime cohort who has worked on the filmmaker’s movies since The Game, is producing. Also producing is Doug Urbanski, who was nominated for an Oscar for 2017’s Darkest Hour.
Mankiewicz was a reporter and a critic in the 1920s, as well as a member of the Algonquin Round Table, New York City’s famed literary club. By the late ’20s, however, he was recruited by Paramount to come to Hollywood and work in the movie business, which at the time was transitioning to talkies. He even enlisted fellow journalists into joining the screenwriting ranks, famously writing to Ben Hecht, “Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots.”
Mankiewicz worked on numerous now-classic films such as The Wizard of Oz (1939), Pride of the Yankees (1942) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), but it was 1941’s Citizen Kane that caused a controversy which would dog him until his death. Both Mankiewicz and Welles worked on the script, but Mankiewicz accused the filmmaker of trying to push him out of the limelight, even saying Welles offered to pay him off in exchange for sole credit.
Mankiewicz’s supporters (which were many, as the prickly Welles alienated as much as he attracted) cheered and chanted “Mank, Mank, Mank” when Citizen Kane won the Oscar for best original screenplay, with both receiving the trophy (even as neither of them attended the ceremony).
Mank will be Fincher’s first movie since 2014’s Gone Girl. The filmmaker was to have directed a sequel to 2013’s World War Z, but budgetary issues sidelined that project. He is repped by Donen Productions.
For Oldman, playing the hard-drinking, combative Mankiewicz could represent another chance for an Oscar. The actor won for his portrayal of Sir Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. He next stars in The Laundromat, the Steven Soderbergh-directed drama that also stars Meryl Streep. Oldman is repped by APA.
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