The director pays tribute in particular to screenwriter Troy Kennedy-Martin, who died in 2019. Just before this film, which had almost been made with Christian Bale, could not materialize.
Michael Mann is on the cover of the new issue of varietya few days before presenting his new film, Ferrariat the Venice Film Festival.
He invited a journalist from the Hollywood magazine to his home to talk about the long gestation of this film, presented as a “old-school melodrama” about Enzo Ferrari, the racing driver turned boss of a successful company. This one is embodied by Adam Driver, opposite Penelope Cruz in the skin of his wife and Shailene Woodley in that of his mistress. The plot will take place mainly in Modena, in 1957, the year in which Laura Ferrari discovered that her husband had a double life, and a hidden daughter. In debt, living with difficulty the mourning of his son, seeing his pilots die on the tracks, Enzo embarks with his team on a tour of Italy, the Mille Miglia, which will turn his life upside down.
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Wandering through Michael Mann’s office, reporter Stephen Rodrick discovers a photo of the director from the early 1990s alongside a Ferrari, in Italy, so Mann discusses in detail his long production. “It’s me, in 1993”, he comments, thus confirming that he had the idea for this film for three decades. Even more, then writes the journalist, since in 1967, while he was a film student, Mann says he had a vision of a Ferrari when leaving the London underground, which has obsessed him ever since.
From the age of 24, the idea of developing a film on Enzo Ferrari therefore germinated in his mind, but he waited for the publication of Brock Yates entitled Enzo Ferrari: The Man and the Machinein 1991, to truly delve into his life.
The first draft of the screenplay by Troy Kennedy-Martin (the author of gold is barring, disappeared in 2009) dates from this period. Mann says that they both adored this work, which returned as much to the career as the intimate life of this man. Marked by this story, the director of Sixth Sense and Last of the Mohicans wanted to make a film out of it. A “opera”even, as his biopic is thought of as a sum work.
Noting that the American public was more interested in NASCAR than in Formula 1, he polished this adaptation by letting a few years pass while working on other films in parallel, such as Revelations (1999), Ali (2001) or Collateral (2004).
The popularity of this motor sport growing more and more, Ferrari nearly came true in 2015 with Christian Bale in the title role. Failing to be able to shoot it at that time for problems of budget and involvement of the actor (who had started to lose weight for this role and was finally hired on other projects), Mann then was a consultant and co-executive producer of Mans 66 (2019), another film on this same motorsport figure directed by James Mangold. Ironically, in this story, Christian Bale is on the poster, but in the shoes of another driver: Ken Miles.
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After the flop hacker, in 2015 at the cinema, Michael Mann was finally able to release enough funds in 2021 to shoot Ferrariexactly 30 years after discovering the book. “That script of Troy, I’ve tweaked it quite a bit over time, but the starting point is definitely what he wrote, he details. The beating heart of this film is due to the work of Troy.“The filmmaker wanted to pay tribute to him in this time of crisis in Hollywood. “Writers are mostly poorly paid in Hollywood, he comments on the strike that has been taking place since May. Even those who work on blockbuster movies. It all starts from there (he pulls out a white sheet of paper) : we start from nothing, absolutely nothing.”
Mann says he is proud to have been able to shoot Ferrari without the help of big Hollywood studios. His project was expensive, since it required a major historical reconstruction, and he managed to raise funds and take advantage of tax credits in Italy to film it during the summer of 2022 with the support of Neon, a box of independent production. “The origins of this film, the content of its script and the end result that you could see… all of this does not fit the types of films that are made by the usual studio system, he considers. It really makes more sense that it’s an independent film distributed by Neon, an independent company by nature.” Note that this distributor is only responsible for distributing the film in English-speaking countries: in France, Ferrari will not be shown in cinemas but on Prime Video.
On the rise of streaming services, Mann commented last October in First : “Ferrari took time to set up because I was looking for the best partners, those who would help develop my work and not modify it… The money is now held by the platforms. Two options are therefore available to a filmmaker: make a film for the big screen or the small one. It’s a simple matter of scale. Martin (Scorsese)David (Finner) and I are deeply attached to the cinema. However, the way audiences experience a film has changed. Ferrari is certainly designed for the room, but I know that many will discover it later on a platform. It will not necessarily be the same type of spectators. You have to adapt.”
Throughout this same article, variety writes that the launch of Heat 2another film project that Michael Mann has been developing for thirty years, will no doubt depend on the success of Ferrari at the box office. After its presentation in Venice, scheduled for August 31, this feature film will be released in American theaters for Christmas, on December 25.
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