Of all the projects Fincher's been linked to, Ness is arguably the most interesting, based on a terrific true life crime comic by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Andreyko, and was the closest to going; although there was a pressing, time sensitive issue with the rights lapsing and Paramount having to re-up on them in order to greenlight the movie which had Matt Damon and Casey Affleck attached.
Well, according to this Hollywood Reporter article, Paramount didn't renew its option, plunging the project into limbo.
Last month, Paramount's ability to extend the rights option as part of the original deal expired, which would have then required the studio to purchase the rights outright to retain them -- a price the studio apparently was unwilling to shell out. While the studio still owns Kruger's screenplay, it is in discussions potentially to strike a new option agreement with the comic's writers, to whom the rights reverted. (Fincher and the producers remain attached.)
Given the Ness story line's basis in reality, one could argue that a public-domain version of it could be developed using similar material. But in the age of the industry-shaking legal tussle between Warner Bros. and Fox over "Watchmen," it's unlikely that Paramount would take that type of risk.
One source indicated that Fincher has been keen on making the project and expressed confusion as to why Paramount would dither. But given the projects and personnel that the belt-tightening Brad Grey-run studio shed last year, it's not surprising that it would balk at committing to another big-budget production at year's end.
"It's a weird and odd situation," Bendis said. "We heard it was greenlit one day, then the next we heard it wasn't. Hopefully, it'll have a happy ending."