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Netflix Lures Yet Another Auteur Into Its Fold: Alexander Payne

Netflix will finance and release Payne's "Downsizing" followup, with Mads Mikkelsen in final talks to star.

Alexander Payne

Alexander Payne

Wiktor Szymanowicz/REX/Shutterstock

Netflix has snapped up yet another awards-friendly filmmaker, and this time it’s Alexander Payne. According to Deadline, Netflix will finance and release his next film, which remains untitled but will star Danish actor and “Hannibal” star Mads Mikkelsen.

Said to be released smack-dab in the awards-season corridor of fall 2020, the upcoming film was described to Deadline as a father/daughter story that follows a journalist (Mikkelsen) on a road trip with his teen daughter across the U.S. while working on a story.

Add Payne, the Academy Award winner for Best Adapted Screenplay for both “The Descendants” and “Sideways,” to an evolving list of auteurs, in many cases Oscar winners, lured by Netflix that include Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”), Steven Soderbergh (“The Laundromat”), Tamara Jenkins (“Private Life”), Nicole Holofcener (“The Land of Steady Habits”), Damien Chazelle (upcoming musical series “The Eddy”), Dee Rees (“The Last Thing He Wanted”), and many more.

Payne’s last film was 2017’s “Downsizing,” starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig as a couple who volunteer to be shrunken to miniature size in order to live in a small community and offset the devastation caused by humankind’s mass consumption of natural resources. That film failed to spark buzz for Payne or its cast, a rare misfire from the director whose adored, awards-anointed filmography also includes “Citizen Ruth” and “About Schmidt.”

Payne has also been cooking up “The Menu,” a culinary-culture satire with Emma Stone and Ralph Fiennes set to star. But per the Deadline report, that’s going on the back burner, with this new film his top priority.

The upcoming Payne/Netflix film will start shooting this October in Sweden, Denmark, and the U.S. Penned by Norwegian novelist and screenwriter Erlend Noe, the film will be produced by Bona Fide Productions’ Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa — who previously worked with Payne on black-and-white father/son story “Nebraska,” and tart satirical comedy “Election” — alongside Lizette Jonjic of Zentropa Productions.

This year, Netflix has several dogs in the awards derby, including Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” fomenting steam out of Telluride, Toronto, Venice, and next, the New York Film Festival (NYFF); plus Scorsese’s upcoming “The Irishman,” world-premiering at NYFF; Fernando Meirelles’ audience favorite “The Two Popes”; and more.

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