Zodiac (film)


Zodiac (film)

Infobox Film
name = Zodiac


image_size =
caption = Theatrical poster
director = David Fincher
producer = Mike Medavoy
Brad Fischer
Arnold Messer
James Vanderbilt
Ceán Chaffin
writer = Book:
Robert Graysmith
Screenplay:
James Vanderbilt
narrator =
starring = Jake Gyllenhaal
Robert Downey Jr.
Mark Ruffalo
Anthony Edwards
Brian Cox
music = David Shire
cinematography = Harris Savides
editing = Angus Wall
distributor = - North America -
Paramount Pictures
- International -
Warner Bros.
released = United States:
March 2, 2007
runtime = Theatrical cut:
158 min.
Director's cut:
162 min.
country = United States
language = English
budget = $65 - $85 million
"estimated"
gross = "Domestic:"
$33,080,084
"Worldwide:"
$84,785,914
"Rental Gross:"
$33.54 million
"DVD Sales:"
$20,779,593
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website = http://www.zodiacmovie.com/
amg_id = 1:325574
imdb_id = 0443706

"Zodiac" is a 2007 American film directed by David Fincher and based on Robert Graysmith's non-fiction book of the same name. The Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. joint production stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr..

"Zodiac" tells the story of the hunt for a notorious serial killer known as "Zodiac" who haunted the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960s, leaving several victims in his wake and taunting police with letters and ciphers mailed to newspapers. The case remains one of San Francisco's most infamous unsolved crimes.

Fincher, screenwriter James Vanderbilt, and producer Brad Fischer spent 18 months conducting their own investigation and research into the Zodiac murders. During filming, Fincher employed the digital Thomson Viper Filmstream camera to shoot the film. Contrary to popular belief, "Zodiac" was not shot entirely digitally; traditional high-speed film cameras were used for slow-motion murder sequences.

Reviews for the film were highly positive. It did not perform strongly at the North American box office, grossing only USD $33 million. However, it performed better in other parts of the world, earning $51 million. This brought its box office total to $84 million, with a budget of $65 million spent on its production.

Plot

The film starts in July 1969 with the Zodiac killer’s second attack, the shooting of Darlene Ferrin and Mike Mageau at a lovers' lane in Vallejo. Mageau survives while Ferrin dies from her injuries. A letter written by the Zodiac arrives at the "San Francisco Chronicle" in August of that same year.

Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) is a Chronicle crime reporter. Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a political cartoonist there. The newspaper receives encrypted letters that the killer sends, taunting the police. Because of Graysmith's status as a cartoonist, he is not taken seriously by Avery and the editors and is excluded from the initial details about the killings despite his interest in the case. In particular, he is drawn to the encrypted code that is included with the letters and is given access to one. When he is able to crack one of the codes, Avery begins sharing information with him.

The Zodiac killer stabs Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard (Pell James) at Lake Berryessa in Napa County. Shepard dies as a result of the attack. Soon afterwards, cab driver Paul Stine is shot and killed in Presidio Heights. San Francisco police detectives Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and his partner Bill Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) are assigned to the case, liaising with other detectives such as Jack Mulanax (Elias Koteas) in Vallejo and Ken Narlow (Donal Logue) in Napa. The killer, or someone posing as him, continues to toy with authorities by speaking on the phone with celebrity lawyer Melvin Belli (Brian Cox) when he makes an appearance on a television talk show. Avery and Graysmith form an alliance, delving deeper into the case.

In 1971, Toschi, Armstrong and Mulanax question Arthur Leigh Allen (John Carroll Lynch), a potential suspect in the case. However, a handwriting expert (Philip Baker Hall) insists that Allen did not write the Zodiac letters. Avery receives a new letter threatening his life. He becomes increasingly paranoid and turns to drugs and alcohol. At one point, he shares information with a rival police force which angers Toschi and Armstrong.

Years pass and careers change. Avery leaves the Chronicle. Armstrong quits the homicide division, Toschi is demoted for supposedly forging a Zodiac letter. Graysmith, meanwhile, continues his own in-depth investigation, interviewing witnesses and police detectives involved in the case. Due to his obsession with the case, he loses his job and his wife Melanie (Chloë Sevigny), who takes their children with her.

Graysmith persistently contacts Toschi about the Zodiac murders and eventually impresses the veteran detective with his knowledge of the case. While Toschi cannot directly give Graysmith access to the information he discovered over the years, he provides contacts of other police departments in counties where the other murders occur. The cartoonist acquires more information that points to Allen as the Zodiac.

In 1983, a full 14 years after the original slayings, Graysmith tracks down Allen to a Vallejo hardware store. Eight years after that, Mageau identifies Allen from a police mugshot. Much circumstantial evidence supports the conclusion that Allen is the culprit, offering possible reasons to doubt the evidence (fingerprints, handwriting, DNA) that legally exonerated him. Allen died in 1992 without ever being charged. Following his death, Graysmith claimed to have received no further anonymous calls.

Cast and characters

*Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith: a cartoonist for the "San Francisco Chronicle". While researching the film, Fincher considered Gyllenhaal to play Graysmith. According to the director, “I really liked him in "Donnie Darko" and I thought, ‘He’s an interesting double-sided coin. He can do that naive thing but he can also do possessed’”.cite news
last = Schruers
first = Fred
coauthors =
title = Fincher vs. the Zodiac Killer
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Premiere
year = 2007
url = http://www.premiere.com/features/3562/fincher-vs-the-zodiac-killer.html
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] To prepare for his role, Gyllenhaal met Graysmith and videotaped him in order to study his mannerisms and behavior.cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac" Production Notes
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Paramount Pictures Press Kit
year = 2007
url = http://media.movieweb.com/galleries/3158/notes.pdf
format=PDF
accessdate = 2008-09-24
]
*Mark Ruffalo as Inspector David Toschi: Initially, Ruffalo was not interested in the project but Fincher wanted him to play Toschi. He met with the actor and told him that he was rewriting the screenplay. “I loved what he was saying and loved where he was going with it,” the actor remembers.cite news
last = Harland
first = Pamela
coauthors =
title = Profile: Mark Ruffalo Traces the Steps of Zodiac
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = iFMagazine
date = February 28, 2007
url = http://www.ifmagazine.com/feature.asp?article=1953
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] For research, he read every report on the case and read all the books on the subject. Ruffalo met Toschi and found out that he had “perfect recall of the details and what happened when, where, who was there, what he was wearing. He always knew what he was wearing. I think it is seared into who he is and it was a big deal for him”.
*Robert Downey Jr. as Paul Avery, a journalist at the "San Francisco Chronicle" who covered the Zodiac killer case.
*Anthony Edwards as Inspector William Armstrong: When casting the role, Fincher said he thought of Edwards because "I knew I needed the most decent person I could find, because he would be the balance of the movie. In a weird way, this movie wouldn’t exist without Bill Armstrong. Everything we know about the Zodiac case, we know because of his notes. So in casting the part, I wanted to get someone who is totally reliable".cite news
last = Rodriguez
first = Rene
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac" Filmmaker Recalls Wave of Panic
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = PopMatters
date = March 3, 2007
url = http://www.popmatters.com/pm/article/31339/zodiac-filmmaker-david-fincher-recalls-wave-of-panic/
accessdate = 2007-04-13
]
*Brian Cox as Melvin Belli, a prominent American lawyer who received a letter from the Zodiac killer. Originally, Gary Oldman was to play him but "he went to a lot of trouble, they had appliances, but just physically it wasn't going to work, he just didn't have the girth," Graysmith remembers. [cite news
last = Voynar
first = Kim
coauthors =
title = Interview: "Zodiac" Author Robert Graysmith
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Cinematical
date = March 2, 2007
url = http://www.cinematical.com/2007/03/02/interview-zodiac-author-robert-graysmith/
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] Cox was cast instead.
*John Carroll Lynch as Arthur Leigh Allen, a prime suspect in the case. He was never charged with these crimes.
*Chloë Sevigny as Melanie, Graysmith's wife.
*John Getz as Templeton Peck.
*Elias Koteas as Sgt. Jack Mulanax, a police detective from Vallejo.
*Dermot Mulroney as Captain Marty Lee, Armstrong's and Toschi's superior officer.
*Donal Logue as Ken Narlow, a police detective in Napa.
*Philip Baker Hall as Sherwood Morrill, a handwriting analyst.

Production

Development

James Vanderbilt had read Robert Graysmith's book "Zodiac" in 1986 while in high school. Years later, he became a screenwriter, met Graysmith and became fascinated by the folklore surrounding the Zodiac killer and attempted to translate that into his script. [cite news
last = Faye
first = Dennis
coauthors =
title = The Messiness of Life & Death
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Writers Guild of America
date =
url = http://www.wga.org/subpage.aspx?id=2326
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] Vanderbilt had endured bad experiences with the endings of his scripts being changed and wanted more control over his material. He pitched his adaptation of "Zodiac" to Mike Medavoy and Bradley J. Fischer from Phoenix Pictures, by agreeing to write a spec script if he could have more creative control over it. Graysmith first met Fischer and Vanderbilt at the premiere of Paul Schrader's film, "Auto Focus", which was based on Graysmith's 1991 book about the life of actor Bob Crane. A deal was made and they optioned the rights to "Zodiac" and "Zodiac Unmasked" when they became available after languishing at Disney for nearly a decade. David Fincher was their first choice to direct based on his work on "Se7en". Originally, he was going to direct an adaptation of James Ellroy’s novel, "The Black Dahlia" (later filmed by Brian De Palma), and envisioned a five-hour, $80 million mini-series with movie stars. [cite news
last = Abramowitz
first = Rachel
coauthors =
title = 2 Men, 1 Obsession: The Quest for Justice
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Los Angeles Times
date = February 28, 2007
url =
accessdate =
] When the studio backing it did not agree, the director left the project and moved on to "Zodiac". He was given Vanderbilt’s 158-page screenplay in late 2003.

Fincher was drawn to this story because he spent much of his childhood in San Anselmo in Marin County during the initial Zodiac murders. "I remember coming home and saying the highway patrol had been following our school buses for a couple weeks now. And my dad, who worked from home, and who was very dry, not one to soft-pedal things, turned slowly in his chair and said: ‘Oh yeah. There’s a serial killer who has killed four or five people, who calls himself Zodiac, who’s threatened to take a high-powered rifle and shoot out the tires of a school bus, and then shoot the children as they come off the bus.’".cite news
last = Halbfinger
first = David M
coauthors =
title = Lights, Bogeyman, Action
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = New York Times
date = February 18, 2007
url = http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/18/movies/18halb.html
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] For Fincher as a young boy, the killer "was the ultimate boogeyman". The director was also drawn to the unresolved ending of Vanderbilt's screenplay because it felt true to real life where cases are not always solved. [cite news
last = Lawson
first = Terry
coauthors =
title = David Fincher Talks "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = PopMatters
date = March 2, 2007
url = http://www.popmatters.com/pm/article/31265/zodiac-its-a-long-story/
accessdate = 2007-04-13
]

Fincher realized that his job was to dispel the mythic stature the case had taken on over the years by clearly defining what was fact and what was fiction. He told Vanderbilt that he wanted the screenplay re-written but with additional research done from the original police reports. Fincher found that there was a lot of speculation and hearsay and wanted to interview people directly involved in the case in person to see if he believed what they were telling him. Fincher did this because he felt a burden of responsibility in making a film that convicted someone posthumously. The director, Fischer and Vanderbilt spent months interviewing witnesses, family members of suspects, retired and current investigators, the only two surviving victims, and the mayors of San Francisco and Vallejo. Fincher said, “Even when we did our own interviews, we would talk to two people. One would confirm some aspects of it and another would deny it. Plus, so much time had passed, memories are affected and the different telling of the stories would change perception. So when there was any doubt we always went with the police reports”. During the course of their research, Fincher and Fischer hired Gerald McMenamin, an internationally known forensic linguistics expert and professor of linguistics at California State University Fresno, to analyze the Zodiac’s letters. Unlike document examiners in the 1970s, he focused on the language of the Zodiac and how he formed his sentences in terms of word structure and spelling.

Fincher and Fischer approached Sony Pictures Entertainment to finance the film but talks with them fell through because the studio wanted the running time fixed at two hours and fifteen minutes. They then approached other studios with Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures agreeing to share the costs and were willing to be more flexible about the running time. The film was a tough sell to the studio and they were concerned about the heavy amount of dialogue and the lack of action scenes, as well as the inconclusive nature of the story arc.cite news
last = Svetkey
first = Benjamin
coauthors =
title = King of Pain
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Entertainment Weekly
date = February 26, 2007
url = http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20013078,00.html
accessdate = 2008-09-24
]

When Dave Toschi met Fincher, Fischer and Vanderbilt, the director told him that he was not going to make another "Dirty Harry" (which had been loosely based on the Zodiac case). Toschi was impressed with their knowledge of the case and afterwards, he realized that he had learned a lot from them. In addition, the Zodiac’s two surviving victims, Mike Mageau and Bryan Hartnell were consultants on the film.

Alan J. Pakula’s film, "All the President's Men" was the template for "Zodiac" as Fincher felt that it was also “the story of a reporter determined to get the story at any cost and one who was new to being an investigative reporter. It was all about his obsession to know the truth”. And like in that film, he did not want to spend time telling the back story of any of the characters, focusing, instead, on what they did in regards to the case.”

Vanderbilt was drawn to the notion that Graysmith went from a cartoonist to one of the most significant investigators of the case. He pitched the story as: “What if Garry Trudeau woke up one morning and tried to solve the Son of Sam”? As he worked on the script, he became friends with Graysmith and consulted him often. The filmmakers were able to get the cooperation of the Vallejo Police Department (one of the key investigators at the time) because they hoped that the movie would inspire someone to come forward with a crucial bit of information that might help solve this decades-old cold case.

Principal photography

almost always end up being disappointing, like the veil is pierced and you look at it for the first time and think, 'Oh my god, this is what I really have to work with.' But when you can see what you have as it's gathered, it can be a much less neurotic process".cite news
last = Taubin
first = Amy
coauthors =
title = Nerds on a Wire
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Sight & Sound
date = May 2007
url =
accessdate =
]

Contrary to popular belief, "Zodiac" was not shot entirely digitally; traditional high-speed film cameras were used for slow-motion murder sequences. [cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title = The Visual Effects of "Zodiac"
work = Zodiac: Director's Cut DVD
pages =
language =
publisher = Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures
year = 2008
url =
accessdate =
] Michael Mann's "Miami Vice", as well as his previous effort, "Collateral" (a co-production of Paramount and its current sister studio DreamWorks, and which also starred Mark Ruffalo), were also shot with the camera but mixed in other formats. [cite news
last = Goldman
first = Michael
coauthors =
title = "Miami Vice" in HD
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Digital Content Producer
date = May 23, 2006
url = http://digitalcontentproducer.com/hdhdv/depth/miami_vice_in_HD_05232006/
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] Once shot on the Viper camera, the files were converted to DVCPro HD 1080i and edited in Final Cut Pro. This was for editorial decisions only. During the later stages of editing the original uncompressed 1080p 4:4:4 RAW digital source footage was assembled automatically to maintain an up-to-date digital "negative" of the movie. Other digital productions like "Superman Returns" or "Apocalypto" recorded to the HDCAM tape format.

Fincher had previously worked with director of photography Harris Savides on "Se7en" (he shot the opening credits) and "The Game". Savides loved the script but realized, “there was so much exposition, just people talking on the phone or having conversations. It was difficult to imagine how it could be done in a visual way”.cite news
last = Williams
first = David E
coauthors =
title = Cold Case File
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = American Cinematographer
date = April 2007
url = http://www.ascmag.com/magazine_dynamic/April2007/Zodiac/page1.php#
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] Fincher and Savides did not want to repeat the look of "Se7en". The director's approach to "Zodiac" was to create a look mundane enough that audiences would accept that what they were watching was the truth. The filmmakers also did not want to glamorize the killer or tell the story through his eyes. “That would have turned the story into a first-person-shooter video game. We didn’t want to make the sort of movie that serial killers would want to own,” Fincher said.

Savides' first experience with the Viper Filmstream camera was shooting a Motorola commercial with Fincher. From there, he used it on "Zodiac". Fincher wanted to make sure that the camera was more inclined towards film production so that the studio would be more comfortable about using it on a project with large budget. To familiarize himself with the camera, he “did as many things ‘wrong’ as I possibly could. I went against everything I was supposed to do with the camera”. Savides felt comfortable with the camera after discovering its limitations.

Fincher and Savides used the photographs of William Eggleston, Stephen Shore's work from the early Seventies, and actual photos from the Zodiac police files. The two men worked hard to capture the look and feel of the period as Fincher admitted, “I suppose there could have been more VW bugs but I think what we show is a pretty good representation of the time. It is not technically perfect. There are some flaws but some are intended”. The "San Francisco Chronicle" was built in the old post office in the Terminal Annex Building in downtown Los Angeles. A building on Sprint Street subbed for the Hall of Justice and the San Francisco Police Department. Production began on September 12, 2005. They shot for five weeks in the San Francisco Bay Area and the rest of the time in L.A. bringing the film in under budget, wrapping in February 2006. The film took 115 days to shoot.

Some of the cast was not happy with Fincher’s exacting ways and perfectionism. Some scenes required upwards of 70 takes. Gyllenhaal was frustrated by the director’s methods and commented in an interview, “You get a take, 5 takes, 10 takes. Some places, 90 takes. But there is a stopping point. There’s a point at which you go, ‘That’s what we have to work with.’ But we would reshoot things. So there came a point where I would say, well, what do I do? Where’s the risk?” Downey said, “I just decided, aside from several times I wanted to garrote him, that I was going to give him what he wanted. I think I’m a perfect person to work for him, because I understand gulags”. Fincher responded, “If an actor is going to let the role come to them, they can’t resent the fact that I’m willing to wait as long as that takes. You know, the first day of production in San Francisco we shot 56 takes of Mark and Jake – and it’s the 56th take that’s in the movie”. Ruffalo also backed up his director’s methods when he said, “The way I see it is, you enter into someone else’s world as an actor. You can put your expectations aside and have an experience that’s new and pushes and changes you, or hold onto what you think it should be and have a stubborn, immovable journey that’s filled with disappointment and anger”.

oundtrack

Originally, Fincher envisioned the film’s soundtrack to be composed of 40 cues of vintage music spanning the nearly three decades of the Zodiac story. With music supervisor George Drakoulias, the director searched for the right pop songs that reflected the era, including Three Dog Night’s cover of “Easy to Be Hard” because “it’s so ingrained in my psyche as being what the summer of ’69 sounded like in northern California”. Initially, Fincher did not envision an original score for the film, but rather a tapestry of sound design, vintage songs of the period, sound bites and clips of [AM radio giant] KFRC and "Mathews Top of the Hill Daly City" (home of a prominent hi-fi dealership of the time).cite news
last = Jackson
first = Blair
coauthors =
title = Unraveling the Sound for "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Mix
date = March 1, 2007
url = http://mixonline.com/sound4picture/film_tv/audio_unraveling_sound_zodiac/
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] The director told the studio that he did not need a composer and would buy various songs instead. They agreed, but as the film developed, sound designer and longtime Fincher collaborator Ren Klyce felt there places in some scenes that could have used music. So, he inserted music from one of his favorite soundtracks, David Shire’s score for "The Conversation" and "All the President’s Men". Fincher was eager to work with Shire as "All the President’s Men" was one of his favorite films and one the primary cinematic influences on "Zodiac". He reminded Klyce of the deal that he had made with the studio.

Klyce got in touch with sound and film editor Walter Murch who worked on "The Conversation" and he got Klyce in touch with Shire. Fincher sent the composer a copy of the script and flew him in for a meeting and a screening in L.A. At first, Fincher only wanted 15–20 minutes of score and for it to be all based on solo piano. As Shire worked on it and incorporated textures of a Charles Ives piece called, “The Unanswered Question” and "Conversation"-based cues, he found that he had 37 minutes of original music. The orchestra Shire assembled consisted of musicians from the San Francisco Opera and S.F. ballet. Shire said, “There are 12 signs of the Zodiac and there is a way of using atonal and tonal music. So we used 12 tones, never repeating any of them but manipulating them”. He used specific instruments to represent the characters: the trumpet for Toschi, the solo piano for Graysmith and the dissonant strings for the Zodiac killer.

Editing

An early version of "Zodiac" ran three hours and eight minutes. It was supposed to be released in time for Academy Award consideration but Paramount felt that the film ran too long and asked Fincher to make changes. Contractually, he had final cut and once he reached a length he felt was right, the director refused to make any further cuts. To trim down the film to two hours and forty minutes, he had to cut a two-minute blackout montage of “hit songs signaling the passage of time from Joni Mitchell to Donna Summer.” It was replaced with a title card that reads, “Four years later.” Another cut scene that test screening audiences did not like involved “three guys talking into a speakerphone” to get a search warrant as Toschi and Armstrong talk to SFPD Capt. Marty Lee (Dermot Mulroney) about their case against suspect Arthur Leigh Allen. [cite news
last =
first = Slevy
coauthors =
title = Interview: David Fincher of "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = The Oregonian
date = March 2, 2007
url =
accessdate = 2007-03-18
] Fincher said that this scene would probably be put back on the DVD. [cite news
last = Loder
first = Kurt
coauthors =
title = Director David Fincher: Beyond the Zodiac
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = MTV
date = March 2, 2007
url = http://www.mtv.com/movies/news/articles/1553713/20070302/story.jhtml
accessdate = 2008-09-24
]

Visual effects

handled the bulk of the movie's 200+ effects shots including pools of blood and bloody fingerprints found at crime scenes. For the murder of a woman that took place at Lake Berryessa blood seepage and clothing stains were also visual effects added in post-production. Fincher did not want to shoot the blood with practical effects because wiping everything down after every take would take too long and so the murder sequences were done with CG blood.cite news
last = Crabtree
first = Sheigh
coauthors =
title = Re-creating 1969 "Zodiac" Murders
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Los Angeles Times
date = March 11, 2007
url =
accessdate =
] CG was also used to recreate the San Francisco neighborhood at Washington and Cherry where cab driver Paul Stine was killed. The area had changed significantly over the years and so Fincher shot the six-minute sequence on a bluescreen stage. Production designer Donald Burt gave the visual effects team detailed drawings of the intersection as it was in 1969 and photographs of every possible angle of the area with a high-resolution digital camera which allowed the effects artists to build computer-based geometric models of homes and textured them with period facades. Then, 3-D vintage police motorcycles, squad cars, a firetruck and streets lights were added.

Reception

To promote "Zodiac", Paramount posted on light-poles in major cities original sketches of the actual Zodiac killer with the words, "In theaters March 2nd," at the bottom.cite news
last = Sciretta
first = Peter
coauthors =
title = Zodiac Killer on the Loose
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = /Film
date = February 16, 2007
url = http://www.slashfilm.com/2007/02/16/zodiac-killer-on-the-loose/
accessdate = 2008-09-24
]

Opening in 2,362 theaters on March 2, 2007, the film grossed USD $13.3 million in its opening weekend, placing second and posting a decent per-theater average of $5,671. [cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title = Weekend Box Office for March 2–4, 2007
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Box Office Mojo
date = March 2–4, 2007
url = http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/?yr=2007&wknd=009&p=.htm
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] The film was easily outgrossed by fellow opener "Wild Hogs" and saw a decline of over 50% in its second weekend, losing out to the record-breaking "300". [cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title = Weekend Box Office for March 9–11, 2007
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Box Office Mojo
date = March 9–11, 2007
url = http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/?yr=2007&wknd=10&p=.htm
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] It grossed $33 million in North America and $51 million in the rest of the world, bringing its current total to $84 million, above its estimated $75 million production budget. [cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Box Office Mojo
date = July 22, 2007
url = http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=zodiac07.htm
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] In an interview with "Sight & Sound" magazine, Fincher addressed the film's disaster at the North American box office: "Even with the box office being what it is, I still think there's an audience out there for this movie. Everyone has a different idea about marketing, but my philosophy is that if you market a movie to 16-year-old boys and don't deliver "Saw" or "Se7en", they're going to be the most vociferous ones coming out of the screening saying 'This movie sucks.' And you're saying goodbye to the audience who would get it because they're going to look at the ads and say, 'I don't want to see some slasher movie'".

Reviews

Reviews have been highly positive. "Zodiac" currently has a rating of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes (81% for their "Cream of the Crop" designation) dubbing it "Certified Fresh", and a 78 metascore at Metacritic. "Entertainment Weekly" critic Owen Gleiberman awarded the film an "A" grade, hailing the film as a "procedural thriller for the information age" that "spins your head in a new way, luring you into a vortex and then deeper still". [cite news
last = Gleiberman
first = Owen
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Entertainment Weekly
date = February 27, 2007
url = http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20013552,00.html
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] Nathan Lee in his review for the "Village Voice" wrote, "Yet it's his very lack of pretense, coupled with a determination to get the facts down with maximum economy and objectivity, that gives "Zodiac" its hard, bright integrity. As a crime saga, newspaper drama, and period piece, it works just fine. As an allegory of life in the information age, it blew my mind". [cite news
last = Lee
first = Nathan
coauthors =
title = To Catch a Predator
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Village Voice
date = February 23, 2007
url = http://www.villagevoice.com/2007-02-20/film/to-catch-a-predator/
accessdate = 2007-02-28
] Todd McCarthy's review in "Variety" praised the film's "almost unerringly accurate evocation of the workaday San Francisco of 35–40 years ago. Forget the distorted emphasis on hippies and flower-power that many such films indulge in; this is the city as it was experienced by most people who lived and worked there". [cite news
last = McCarthy
first = Todd
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Variety
date = February 22, 2007
url = http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117932879.html?categoryid=1263&cs=1
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] David Ansen, in his review for "Newsweek" magazine, wrote, "Zodiac" is meticulously crafted – Harris Savides's state-of-the-art digital cinematography has a richness indistinguishable from film – and it runs almost two hours and 40 minutes. Still, the movie holds you in its grip from start to finish. Fincher boldly (and some may think perversely) withholds the emotional and forensic payoff we're conditioned to expect from a big studio movie". [cite news
last = Ansen
first = David
coauthors =
title = The Rage of Aquarius
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Newsweek
date = March 5, 2007
url =
accessdate =
]

Some critics, however, were displeased with the film's long running time and lack of action scenes. "The film gets mired in the inevitable red tape of police investigations," wrote Bob Longino of the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution", who also felt that the film "stumbles to a rather unfulfilling conclusion" and "seems to last as long as the Oscars". [cite news
last = Longino
first = Bob
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac" mires in red tape
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Atlanta Journal-Constitution
date = March 2, 2007
url = http://www.accessatlanta.com/movies/movies/etc/getCriticReview.jspd?criticReviewId=1883
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] Andrew Sarris of the "New York Observer" felt that "Mr. Fincher’s flair for casting is the major asset of his curiously attenuated return to the serial-killer genre. I keep saying 'curiously' with regard to Mr. Fincher, because I can’t really figure out what he is up to in "Zodiac" – with its two-hour-and-37-minute running time for what struck me as a shaggy-dog narrative". [cite news
last = Sarris
first = Andrew
coauthors =
title = Stars Align in "Zodiac": Cast Saves Fincher’s Shaggy-Dog Psychodrama
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = New York Observer
date = March 5, 2007
url =
accessdate =
] Christy Lemire wrote in the "San Francisco Chronicle" that "Jake Gyllenhaal is both the central figure and the weakest link... But he's never fleshed out sufficiently to make you believe that he'd sacrifice his safety and that of his family to find the truth. We are told repeatedly that the former Eagle Scout is just a genuinely good guy, but that's not enough". [cite news
last = Lemire
first = Christy
coauthors =
title = Serial killer saga "Zodiac" well-acted, but too long
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = San Francisco Chronicle
date = February 26, 2007
url = http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/02/26/entertainment/e144442S42.DTL
accessdate = 2008-09-24
]

In the United Kingdom, "Time Out" magazine wrote, "Zodiac" isn’t a puzzle film in quite that way; instead its subject is the compulsion to solve puzzles, and its coup is the creeping recognition, quite contrary to the flow of crime cinema, of how fruitless that compulsion can be". [cite news
last = Walters
first = Ben
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Time Out
date = May 16–22, 2007
url = http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/83517/Zodiac.html
accessdate = 2007-05-15
] Peter Bradshaw in his review for "The Guardian" commended the film for its "sheer cinematic virility", and gave it four stars out of five. [cite news
last = Bradshaw
first = Peter
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = The Guardian
date = May 18, 2007
url = http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2007/may/18/thriller.robertdowneyjr | accessdate = 2008-05-22
] In his review for "Empire" magazine, Kim Newman gave the film four out of five stars and wrote, "You’ll need patience with the film’s approach, which follows its main characters by poring over details, and be prepared to put up with a couple of rote family arguments and weary cop conversations, but this gripping character study becomes more agonisingly suspenseful as it gets closer to an answer that can’t be confirmed". [cite news
last = Newman
first = Kim
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Empire
date = May 2007
url = http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=11066
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] Graham Fuller in "Sight and Sound" magazine wrote, "the tone is pleasingly flat and mundane, evoking the demoralising grind of police work in a pre-feminist, pre-technological era. As such, "Zodiac" is considerably more adult than both "Se7en", which salivates over the macabre cat-and-mouse game it plays with the audience, and the macho brinkmanship of "Fight Club". [cite news
last = Fuller
first = Graham
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Sight and Sound
date = June 2007
url = http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/review/3908/
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] Not all U.K. critics liked the film. David Thompson in the "Guardian" felt that in relation to the rest of Fincher's career, "Zodiac" was "the worst yet, a terrible disappointment in which an ingenious and deserving all-American serial killer nearly gets lost in the meandering treatment of cops and journalists obsessed with the case". [cite news
last = Thomson
first = David
coauthors =
title = David Thomson's Biographical Dictionary of Film #14
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Guardian
date = May 11, 2007
url = http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2007/may/11/2
accessdate = 2007-05-15
]

In France, "Le Monde" newspaper praised Fincher for having "obtained a maturity that impresses by his mastery of form," while "Libération" described the film as "a thriller of elegance magnificently photographed by the great Harry Savides".cite news
last = Bergan
first = Ronald
coauthors =
title = What the French papers say
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Guardian Unlimited
date = May 19, 2007
url = http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2007/may/19/cannes2007.cannesfilmfestival2
accessdate = 2007-05-21
] However, "Le Figaro" wrote, "No audacity, no invention, nothing but a plot which intrigues without captivating, disturbs without terrifying, interests without exciting".

"Zodiac" was screened in competition at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2007 with Fincher and Gyllenhaal participating in a press conference afterwards. [cite news
last = Lyman
first = Eric J
coauthors =
title = Fincher made exception for "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Hollywood Reporter
date = May 18, 2007
url = http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3ied657c1357e5e60ed1bb5f9661ce2b8d
accessdate = 2007-05-18
]

Top ten lists

Only two 2007 movies appeared on more critics' top ten lists than "Zodiac" ("No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood"). [http://www.criticstop10.com] Some of the notable top-ten list appearances are: [cite web|url=http://www.metacritic.com/film/awards/2007/toptens.shtml |title=Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists |accessdate=2008-01-05 |publisher=Metacritic]

*1st - Joshua Rothkopf, "Time Out New York"
*1st - Desson Thomson, "The Washington Post"
*1st - Benjamin Crossley-Marra, "ioncinema"
*2nd - Mike Russell, "The Oregonian"
*2nd - Nathan Lee, "The Village Voice"
*2nd - Wesley Morris, "The Boston Globe"
*3rd - Nathan Rabin, "The A.V. Club"
*3rd - Scott Tobias, "The A.V. Club"
*3rd - "Film Comment" [cite web|url=http://www.filmlinc.com/fcm/poll/2007pollcritics.html |title=Film Comment's End-of-Year Critics' Poll |accessdate=2008-01-10 |publisher=Film Comment]
*4th - Scott Foundas, "LA Weekly"
*5th - Philip Martin, "Arkansas Democrat-Gazette"
*6th - "Empire"
*6th - Lisa Schwarzbaum, "Entertainment Weekly"
*6th - Lou Lumenick, "New York Post"
*7th - Richard Roeper, "At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper"
*7th - Glenn Kenny, "Premiere"
*7th - Keith Phipps, "The A.V. Club"
*9th - Marc Mohan, "The Oregonian"
*9th - Noel Murray, "The A.V. Club"
*9th - Ty Burr, "The Boston Globe"
*10th - Claudia Puig, "USA Today"
*10th - Liam Lacey and Rick Groen, "The Globe and Mail"
*10th - Owen Gleiberman, "Entertainment Weekly"
*10th - Rene Rodriguez, "The Miami Herald"

Awards

James Vanderbilt was nominated for Adapted Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America, Chicago Film Critics Association, and the Satellite Awards. [cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title = 2008 Writers Guild Awards Screen Nominees Announced
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Writers Guild of America
date = January 10, 2008
url = http://www.wga.org/subpage_newsevents.aspx?id=2706
accessdate = 2008-01-11
]

DVD release

The DVD for "Zodiac" was released on July 24, 2007 [cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title = Rumor Mill
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Digital Bits
date = May 10, 2007
url = http://www.thedigitalbits.com/rumormill.html#051007
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] and is available widescreen or fullscreen, presented in anamorphic widescreen, and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track. There are no extra materials included. [cite news
last = Woodward
first = Tom
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = DVDActive
date = June 11, 2007
url = http://www.dvdactive.com/news/releases/zodiac.html
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] According to David Prior, producer of the upcoming special edition, the bare bones edition "was only reluctantly agreed to by Fincher because I needed more time on the bonus material. The studio was locked into their release date, so Fincher allowed that to be released first. It had nothing to do with Fincher 'double dipping his own movie before it even makes it to stores' and everything to do with buying more time for the special edition". [cite news
last = Prior
first = David
coauthors =
title = Re: HTF Review: "Zodiac"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Home Theater Forum
date = July 8, 2007
url = http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf/dvd-reviews-archive/259010-htf-review-zodiac.html#post3189271
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] He stated that the theatrical cut will only be available on the single disc edition. Prior elaborated further: "Nobody wants fans feeling like they're being taken advantage of, and I know that double-dipping creates that impression. That's why it was so important to me that consumers be told there was another version coming. In this case it really was a rock-and-a-hard place situation, and delaying the second release was done strictly for the benefit of the final product... But this is a very ambitious project, easily the most far-reaching I've ever worked on, and owing largely to studio snafus that I can't really elaborate on, I didn't have enough time to do it properly. Thus Fincher bought me the extra time by agreeing to a staggered release, which I'm very grateful for". [cite news
last = Prior
first = David
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac": –7/24/07
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = DVD Talk Forum
date = July 8, 2007
url = http://forum.dvdtalk.com/7986861-post110.html
accessdate = 2007-07-13
] In its first week, rentals for the DVD earned $6.7 million. [cite news
last = Arnold
first = Thomas K
coauthors =
title = "Zodiac" a sales star on DVD
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Washington Post
date = August 1, 2007
url =
accessdate =
]

The two-disc director's cut DVD and HD DVD were released on January 8, 2008, with its UK release on BluRay and DVD announced to be on September 29, 2008. Disc 1 features, in addition to a longer cut of the film, a commentary by Fincher and a second commentary by Gyllenhaal, Downey, Fischer, Vanderbilt, and Ellroy. Disc 2 includes a trailer, a "Zodiac Deciphered" documentary, a "Visual Effects of Zodiac" featurette, previsualization split-screen comparisons for the Blue Rock Springs, Lake Berryessa, and San Francisco murder sequences, a "This is the Zodiac Speaking" featurette, and a "His Name Was Arthur Leigh Allen" featurette. Other extras apparently originally intended for the set, including TV spots and featurettes on "Digital Workflow," "Linguistic Analysis," "Jeopardy Surface: Geographic Profiling" (Dr. Kim Rossmo's geographic profile of the Zodiac), and "The Psychology of Aggression: Behavioral Profiling" (Special Agent Sharon Pagaling-Hagan's behavioral profile of the Zodiac) were omitted. However, the latter three featurettes were made available on the film's website. [cite news
last = Woodward
first = Tom
coauthors =
title = The "Zodiac" Director's Cut is coming... in 2008!?
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = DVDActive
date = September 18, 2007
url = http://www.dvdactive.com/news/releases/zodiac4.html
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] This new version runs five minutes longer than the theatrical cut.cite news
last = McClintock
first = Pamela
coauthors =
title = Paramount puts out "Fire" screeners
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Variety
date = October 16, 2007
url = http://www.variety.com/awardcentral_article/VR1117974161.html?nav=news&categoryid=1985&cs=1
accessdate = 2008-09-24
] For Oscar contention, Paramount distributed the Director's Cut DVD to the Producers Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, instead of the official release version. This was the first time that the studio had done this.

The director's cut of "Zodiac" was given a rare screening at the Walter Reade Theater in New York City on November 19, 2007 with Fincher being interviewed by film critic Kent Jones afterwards.cite news
last = Rizov
first = Vadim
coauthors =
title = Fincher Kills at Special "Zodiac" Screening
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = The Reeler
date = November 20, 2007
url = http://www.thereeler.com/the_blog/fincher_kills_at_special_zodiac.php
accessdate = 2008-09-24
]

References

Further reading

* [http://www.zodiackillerfacts.com/movie.htm Zodiac Movie: Fact vs. Fincher (Scene-by-scene, fact-by-fact review examines the accuracy of David Fincher's Zodiac story)]
* [http://www.studiodaily.com/filmandvideo/currentissue/7808.html Film & Video: VFX for "Zodiac"]
* [http://www.premiere.com/features/3562/fincher-vs-the-zodiac-killer.html "Premiere" magazine article]
* [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/10/06/DDGP7F2IJK1.DTL "San Francisco Chronicle" set visit]
* [http://www.cineaste.com/articles/review-zodiac.htm "Cineaste" review]
* [http://www.the213.net/php/article.php?id=796 Differences between Theatrical Cut and Director's Cut]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/06/movies/awardsseason/06darg.html?_r=1&em&ex=1199595600&en=db2adce1b51126a1&ei=5087%0A&oref=slogin Building Suspense Along the Trail of an Invisible Man] - an analysis of a scene from the film

External links

* [http://www.zodiacmovie.com/ Official site]
* [http://wwws.warnerbros.co.uk/zodiac/ Official UK site]
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