Not everyone likes working with an exacting perfectionist like David Fincher. (Or a detail-obsessed control freak; choose the characterization you prefer.) And writers like Neil Gaiman, who have a lot of other things on their plate, aren’t into the idea at all. Which is why Gaiman and Roger Avary are no longer working on the film adaptation of Charles Burns’s crazy teen sickness series Black Hole.
(As Devin said when Fincher came on board, Black Hole is
set in the suburbs of Seattle in the mid 70s, and it’s about a group of
teens who contract an STD that turns them into subtle mutants and
hideous monsters. What’s most interesting about Black Hole is
the way the story itself mutates, which is partially because of the
fact that it was a serialized tale in 12 parts told over ten years, but
it never quite works out the way that you think it will, and in the end
coalesces into a truly moving and beautiful story about becoming an
“Once they got David Fincher on,” Gaiman told MTV, “David explained his
process consisted of having over ten drafts, done over and over, and
Roger and I were sort of asked if we wanted to, if we were interested
in doing that. And we definitely weren’t.”
So the Beowulf writers moved on, and an as-yet unnamed screenwriter has taken over. The last Gaiman-Avary draft is still in Fincher’s hands, but he’s unlikely to use it as much more than a jumping off point. I’m saddened by this. Gaiman has the perfect sensibility to not turn this into a maudlin, gory mess. I fear for the project under a different writer, even with Fincher still on board.
UPDATE: Gaiman’s own website has been updated with his answer to an email asking about this news. Gaiman’s response clarifies things slightly:
It’s amazingly old news, and no, it wasn’t “creative differences” — I
never met or spoke to David Fincher. Roger and I handed in our last
draft of Black Hole last August, before the writer’s strike.
When the strike was over, I heard from Roger, who had already written a
film for David Fincher, that Fincher was on board, but that his method
involved having draft after draft written, and then a month or so after
that I heard from one of the producers that they’d brought a new writer
on who would work cheaper than we would in order that David could have
as many drafts as he needed, given that, contractually, Paramount would
have to pay for every draft we did. (I don’t know if the new writer was
starting with the draft that Roger and I did, or starting afresh.) That
was almost a year ago. At this point in time, and given how things move
in Hollywood, I don’t even know if David Fincher is still on board to
do Black Hole any longer. Mostly, I just hope that whatever
director they wind up with, and whatever script gets shot, it’s
faithful to Charles Burns’ remarkable vision.