Robert Towne says all Chinatown prequel episodes are written…So where is it?

Chinatown prequel

Original Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towne confirmed that every episode of the planned prequel series has been written.

For a while there, we thought they really did forget it, Jake. But now Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towne has provided an update on the prequel series he has developed alongside David Fincher, confirming that the blinds haven’t been closed on the endeavor after all.


Towne — who won an Oscar for his original screenplay — recently told Variety that all episodes of the planned Chinatown prequel have been written. “All I’m likely to say is yes, all the episodes have been written for Netflix.” On collaborating with Fincher, he added, “Working with a force of nature like David Fincher, tho’ occasionally humbling, is never less than enlightening.”

Expanding the seedy world of noir classic Chinatown has been done before, with Towne and Jack Nicholson reuniting for 1990’s The Two Jakes, which we’ll just say is no Chinatown…But a prequel to the 1974 film exploring the origins of Jake Gittes sounds promising — so long as Towne and Fincher don’t try too hard to rip from it. “When David and I first started talking we agreed we wouldn’t try to replicate Noah Cross [the villain played by John Huston]. But we did want to keep in mind that the crimes that history considers monstrous are those that will not remain in the past but insist on visiting the future, and I think we managed that.”

The Chinatown prequel will also explore Lieutenant Lou Escobar, played by Perry Lopez. “Chinatown, with all its implications for an evolving Los Angeles, is central to understanding the evolving Jake Gittes, as is his friendship with and dependence on his partner Lou Escobar. It was enlightening to delve into their backstory, Escobar’s in particular. Small details that are touched on in the film are given life and breadth in a way that surprised even me.”

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So when will we see the Chinatown prequel hit Netflix? That’s as big of a mystery as any one Towne could come up with, as overall news has been relatively quiet since the project was first announced back in 2019. Netflix has also remained hush on Towne’s recent comments as of now, but hopefully they give an update and the series can move forward.

Would you check out a Chinatown prequel? Do you hope it moves forward as planned?