Columbia Pictures executives scrambled Tuesday to shut down the leak of a script for the unannounced sequel to its 2010 blockbuster The Social Network.
The script, which has the working title The Status Update, continues the story of Facebook chairman and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. It begins seconds after the original film’s ending, (revealing that Zuckerberg’s attempt to “friend” his ex-girlfriend on Facebook gets totally denied,) and continues up to the recent initial public offering of stock in the company.
The script was written by Aaron Sorkin, best known for creating television’s The West Wing, rewriting Will Smith’s scenes in Enemy of the State and probably ghostwriting some of the better episodes of The Gilmore Girls. Sorkin won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for penning The Social Network, which was based on a book of rumors and hypotheses by Ben Mezrich.
A digital copy of the script was uploaded early Tuesday morning to the site MediaFire.com and went viral within hours. An employee of Columbia Pictures — who asked to remain anonymous because he was high on cocaine — said executives were panicked by the leak because the project was being kept a secret. He added that there was no concern over the release of plot details from the film, noting both that the script was mostly recycled dialogue from previous Sorkin work, and that it is only a first draft that still must be approved by Zuckerberg himself.
The natal stage of the script puts into question who will be involved in the film, both in front of and behind the camera. When reached for comment about the leaked script, The Social Network director David Fincher said he would not be returning for the sequel because “it isn’t turning out to be moody enough for me.”
Actor Justin Timberlake is also unlikely to reprise his role. During publicity for The Social Network‘s release on DVD, Timberlake repeatedly affirmed he had fallen out with Fincher and the film’s producers after they shot down his suggestion to have his character die tragically at the end of the film.
A number of graphic sex scenes in the script also call into question the potential involvement of Jesse Eisenberg, who portrayed Zuckerberg in the original film. Eisenberg’s agent has stated in the past that the actor will only appear in scenes with sexual acts being performed on him, and never in scenes where Eisenberg performs sexual acts on himself or someone else.
Eisenberg declined to comment on his current level of involvement with The Status Update. He did, however, confirm the authenticity of the leaked script and acknowledged he has either read it or had it read aloud to him.
Eisenberg added that production of the film had a false start in March under director Terrence Malick, who dropped the project after growing frustrated by his attempts to replace Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the team that scored the original film. Malick’s involvement in the project was conditional on hiring Zack Braff to produce the soundtrack, but Braff is already attached as music producer for a film about Jewish online singles network JDate.com.