David Fincher updates status on "Social Network"

NEW YORK Wed Oct 6, 2010 5:38pm EDT

NEW YORK Oct 6 (Reuters) - The audience for director David Fincher's "The Social Network" is expected to grow in coming months, spurred by fan buzz and rave reviews after a $22.4 million opening weekend at U.S. and Canadian box offices.

As the movie world heads into awards season, Fincher returned from Sweden where he has been filming the Hollywood version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and talked to Reuters about how the film got made, what he thinks about Oscar buzz and how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is depicted.

Q: Why not have early test screenings of "Social Network"? That must have made Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal nervous.

A: "When we finished it and we showed it to her, I said 'If you throw it out to a bunch of mall rats and bring 'em in to watch this movie to tell you if it is working or not, this movie is going to be dissected on Facebook before you have a chance to generate your notes about what it is.'

"So I said 'I urge you not to preview screen this movie' ... and let's put it out without ever having shown it to anyone' and Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal said, 'OK'."

Q: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has not cooperated with the film. How does the movie portray him?

A: "I hope he seems human. I hope he seems like a real person with insecurities and aspirations and he is fiercely protective of his creation as he should be, as I think that it ultimately gives his stay on this planet a reason.

"Some of the things that are suggested by some of the other people that were in his life, about how he started, or how he mistreated them, you are talking about someone who was 24, 22, 21 years-old when this was going on. We have all done things we probably weren't that proud of in our late teens."

Q: Unlike other 'true life' movies, this one comes very quickly after the actual events?

A. "When I read it, it felt to me 'We better be doing this now.' We better not wait nine months to start. It felt like it was talking about 'now' -- being a twitterer, being a twit, or twat, or whatever. It felt like it needed to be as close to the crater of this explosive technology as it could be. It seems to me like a year from now is too late."

Q: Does it have a perceived guaranteed audience from the some 500 million Facebook users worldwide?

A: "I don't think so. If you were to look at the myriad of people who devoted many many column inches to, 'Why would they make a movie about Facebook? I hate Facebook. I am going to hate this movie!' That's like saying, 'People like Cool Whip." but I don't think they should make a movie out of it."

Q: In your own words: true story or a work of fiction?

"It depends on who you talk to, we have shown the movie to people who know Sean Parker who say, 'It's amazing it's so much like him,' and we have shown it to others who say, 'It didn't lay a glove on him.' People look at Zuckerberg and go, 'It's uncanny' about Jesse Eisenberg and others who say, 'How could you? He (Eisenberg) is 26."

Q: In general, is making true life stories problematic?

A: "It was problematic. I wasn't in the process of when Facebook was being courted to be hands on, or at least available. I got involved with the movie about the time that they (Facebook) decided to ignore it and hope it went away.

"People never debate the specifics of the facts. They debate the point of view, how they are being interpreted. ...I can tell you quite honestly, Eduardo Saverin suffered a failure of imagination. That to me was fundamental to that character. He was emotionally available but creatively incapable of seeing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He wanted to get his $19,000 dollars back. Could he have imagined $15 billion dollars? I don't think so. Not at gunpoint."

Q: Aaron Sorkin said while the script was based on the book -- Ben Mezrich's "The Accidental Billionaires," -- it was also based on his own research. Did you read the book?

A. "I read the book more as CliffsNotes and a reference. Anytime you take something that took four or five years (to occur) and try and reduce it to two hours, things are going to fall through the cracks.

Q: This is not just the story of a website.

A. "No, this is a story of a time and a place and a friendship and a bunch of dreamers and people who saw what the future was going to be like and tried to capitalize on it and the acrimony that broke out between them as they all realized that it was even bigger than they thought."

Q: It's still early, but "The Social Network" has gained a lot of Oscar buzz. What is your reaction?

A: "I am not thinking about that... It's of no interest."

Q: So would you consider not attending then?

"I think it's a valuable thing to have something that should speak about a culture. It's important for people to note in an archival way and for people to stop and take stock and say, 'This is interesting, this is special.'

"But I also think that any system that involves that many people is going to become a political morass that's too complicated to take at face value...you know, when I was six years old I loved watching The Academy Awards...But I don't think I have ever been as uncomfortable or sick to my stomach as when you actually have to attend. Because you sit there and just go 'It's not what I got into this for.'"

(Editing by Jill Serjeant; Bob Tourtellotte)