Director David Fincher’s film, Zodiac, opens with the words “based on actual case files.” The credits then state that the book Zodiac also served as the basis for the film. Written by cartoonist Robert Graysmith, Zodiac proved to be a highly fictionalized account of the long unsolved murder mystery. Based on the facts of police files and the fiction of Graysmith’s book, Fincher’s version of the Zodiac story can only exist in the gray area in between.
“I am interested in an impression,” Fincher reportedly told Graysmith. “We need to construct Zodiac from its emotional truth as opposed to its factual truth.” Producer Bradley J. Fischer said, “David is beyond Zodiac being a reconstruction. He is interested in the progression of events that he can accurately capture on film and that dispel any myths in the case.”
“I said I won’t use anything in this book that we don’t have a police report for,” Fincher told reporter David M. Halbfinger in an interview for The New York Times. “There’s an enormous amount of hearsay in any circumstantial case, and I wanted to look some of these people in the eye and see if I believed them.”
“I don’t want this to be about convicting Arthur Leigh Allen,” Fischer added. “If the characters in the movie believe Arthur Leigh Allen is the Zodiac, I’m completely fine with that, but I don’t want to make a movie about convincing the audience.” Fischer’s comments seem at odds with those of David Fincher as quoted in The New York Times – “It was an extremely difficult thing to make a movie that posthumously convicts somebody.” That somebody is Graysmith’s longtime suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen, portrayed in the film by actor John Carroll Lynch.
Any claim to convict a man in the court of public opinion requires extraordinary scrutiny, as do the facts used to implicate the defendant and the methods of his accusers. The following does not address the artistic merits of the film. In an attempt to separate fact from fiction, ZodiacKillerFACTS.com provides a scene-by-scene, fact-by-fact review which examines the accuracy of Fincher’s account of the Zodiac story, and the evidence said to implicate the eternal suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen.
Directed by David Fincher – Screenplay by Jamie Vanderbilt – Based on the book Zodiac by Robert Graysmith – Produced by Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Bradley J. – Fischer, James Vanderbilt and Cean Chaffin. – A Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Running time: 2 hrs 36 min (theatrical version)
MPAA rating: R
Reported Budget: $65 million dollars + advertising costs = total (estimated) $85 million dollars.
Release date: March 2, 2007
According to the website www.Variety.com, Zodiac earned $29,465,540 in the first 18 days after its release. During the opening weekend Zodiac earned $13,395,610, and generated $6.6 million dollars during its second week when audience attendance declined by 50 percent. Box office returns again dropped by 50 percent to little more than $3 million dollars during the third weekend. [To view the total box office results for the film Zodiac, go to BoxOfficeMojo.com.]
The website www.BoxOfficeMojo.com and the magazine Entertainment Weekly compiled movie reviews from critics and viewers to provide an average grade of B. Film critic Mark LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle – the Zodiac’s favorite newspaper – reviewed Zodiac and gave Fincher’s film a grade of C+.