Is this actually possible? Legendary director David Fincher and Oscar-winning Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towne are developing a prequel series to the iconic film for Netflix.
The project news recently arrived from Deadline, which reported Fincher and Towne would work on a pilot script centered around a young Jake Gittes.
Chinatown is the best screenplay ever executed to film. It’s also streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. The fact that Towne is back, and Fincher is involved, makes this overwhelmingly exciting. And kind of terrifying.
What will the story entail?
It’s going to be hard to top Chinatown to say the least. Per the Deadline report, it’ll deal with the wealthy and its corruption in areas such as gangs, oil and land. Even harder may be convincing fans of the O.G. to bite into what Gittes was up to before.
None other than Jack Nicholson originated the role. He also starred in and directed the sequel, The Two Jakes. That was a solid film written by Towne as well, yet it didn’t reach the heights the first one did.
The way Towne blended fact and fiction in Chinatown, threaded together multiple plot lines and mashed up genres was masterful. It’s really hard for lightning to strike twice in that sense.
Will we see further backstory and development of the contentious relationship between Noah Cross and Hollis Mulwray? Is it just going to be Gittes privately investigating extramarital affairs and other seedy happenings around Los Angeles?
If the pilot script is OK’d, there’s plenty of room to develop Gittes and whatever other characters he encounters.
Fincher’s style fits well with the aesthetic
The director’s credits include Se7en, Fight Club, The Game, Zodiac, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl. All these films are dark, gritty, with often morally ambiguous characters and murder, mystery and detective intrigue at the center of the plot.
All these elements are what made Chinatown so successful in the first place. Again, though, weaving that type of yarn again is a big ask. That said, Fincher is better equipped than most to capture the neo-noir mood and style.
Known as a creative personality for being meticulous, using a lot of takes and having an acute attention to detail, Fincher’s sensibilities align with the main character of Gittes, too. It’s of little surprise Chinatown features on Fincher’s list of the 26 greatest movies ever.
Netflix hopes Fincher directs the pilot, per Deadline. However, it’s not part of the initial agreement.
Fincher has been busy working in TV of late for Netflix’s acclaimed original series Mindhunter. The serial killer-driven show features seven Fincher-directed episodes, so that’s neat.
If he can bring similar magic to a Chinatown prequel series on Netflix, then Fincher will be a hero across numerous generations!