Director David Fincher spoke about Todd Phillips’ Joker, and how surprised he was to see the supervillain origin story become such a massive success.

David Fincher, JokerAlberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

“I don’t think ­anyone would have looked at that material and thought, Yeah, let’s take [‘Taxi Driver’s’] Travis Bickle and [‘The King of Comedy’s’] Rupert Pupkin and conflate them, then trap him in a betrayal of the mentally ill, and trot it out for a billion dollars,” Fincher said. “I’m sure that Warner Bros thought at a certain price, and with the right cast, and with De Niro coming along for the ride, it would be a possible double or triple. But I cannot imagine that movie would have been released had it been 1999.”

Fincher continued to suggest that the film’s production reminded him of his time making Fight Club: “The general view afterward among the studio types was, ‘Our careers are over.’ The fact we got that film made in 1999 is still, to my mind, a miracle.”

Despite his contempt for allegedly avaricious studio executives, Fincher says streaming services like Netflix, which he has worked with numerous times, are far better at funding “medium-priced” projects: “The reality of our current situation is that the five families don’t want to make anything that can’t make them a billion dollars,” he said. “None of them want to be in the medium-priced challenging content business. And that cleaves off exactly the kind of movies I make. What the streamers are doing is providing a platform for the kind of cinema that actually reflects our culture and wrestles with big ideas: where things are, what people are anxious and unsure about. Those are the kinds of movies that would have been dead on arrival five years ago.”

Fincher’s upcoming film Mank will release on Netflix, next month.

[Via]