In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.

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Storyline

A serial killer in the San Francisco Bay Area taunts police with his letters and cryptic messages. We follow the investigators and reporters in this lightly fictionalized account of the true 1970's case as they search for the murderer, becoming obsessed with the case. Based on Robert Graysmith's book, the movie's focus is the lives and careers of the detectives and newspaper people. Written by tom day

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

When a series of murders terrorized California, one man took responsibility for them all. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some strong killings, language, drug material and brief sexual images | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

2 March 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chronicles  »

Box Office

Budget:

$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$13,395,610 (USA) (2 March 2007)

Gross:

$33,048,353 (USA) (27 April 2007)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although Toschi and Armstrong are SFPD inspectors, their actual responsibilities are identical to those of detectives in other municipal police organizations. The San Francisco Police Department calls their detectives "inspectors." See more »

Goofs

(at around 1h 45 mins) Graysmith says he is an "Eagle Scout, first class." There is no such award as Eagle Scout first class. There is a rank of First Class in Boy Scouting, but it is much lower than Eagle. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mike Mageau: Where have you been? I've been waiting since 7:00.
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Crazy Credits

The opening logos for Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. are the ones that were used in the 1970s. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Entourage: Lose Yourself (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Arrivederci, Roma
Written by Renato Rascel (as Renato Ranucci), Alessandro Giovannini (as Allessandro Giovannini) and Pietro Garinei
Performed by Mario Lanza
Courtesy of SONY BMG Masterworks/RCA Red Seal/RCA Victor
By Arrangement with SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Not Your Average Serial Killer Movie (And That's a Good Thing)
26 March 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Zodiac" may frustrate viewers who come to David Fincher's latest film expecting a traditional serial killer thriller. The film begins with a couple of hair-raising and rather brutal recreations of murders carried out by the mysterious killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These early scenes are shocking and, compared to the rest of the film, disorienting, because they offer the only time that we come close to seeing events from the killer's perspective. As the film progresses, the Zodiac killer himself fades into the background, and the movie turns into a meticulous and engrossing document of the investigation to track him down, an investigation that includes countless blind alleys and false clues and which to this day has not reached a conclusion. I would be more prone to label the somewhat rambling screenplay as sloppy storytelling if I did not feel that Fincher tells the story exactly as he wants to. The elusive narrative works, because the film is about an elusive villain.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist working for the "San Francisco Chronicle" at the time the Zodiac killer began his gruesome work. He becomes fascinated by the case, and takes it on as a sort of morbid personal hobby long after the police department has given it up as a lost cause. Graysmith eventually wrote the book on which this film is based, and according to his accounts, he discovered enough evidence about one of the suspects in the case to put the police back on his trail years after he'd been cleared for lack of evidence. Other characters come and go. Robert Downey, Jr. does characteristically terrific work as a reporter at the "Chronicle" who grabs his own portion of notoriety through his involvement in the case. Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards play the two detectives in charge of the investigation. Chloe Sevigny plays Gyllenhaal's put-upon wife, who gradually loses her husband to his obsession. All of the actors deliver thrilling performances, many of them against the odds. Since this isn't a character driven movie, many of the characters remain undeveloped, but not, for once, to the detriment of the film. This story isn't about the people involved, but rather about their role in the Zodiac saga; once they've served their purpose, Fincher dispenses with them. Ironically, a film that clocks in at nearly 3 hours exhibits a great deal of narrative economy.

Parts of "Zodiac" are intensely creepy. Fincher effectively uses the rainy San Francisco atmosphere to its maximum potential, and the grimy browns and grays of the production design call to mind Fincher's other well-known films, like "Seven" and "Fight Club." But "Zodiac" is much more grown up than those films, and for an audience to enjoy it, it has to have an attention span. Long scenes are given to analyzing handwriting samples, recreating the scenes of murders, digging through newspaper clippings and files. You can tell that Fincher is fascinated by police work in the pre-CSI era, when fax machines were still a novel invention. He delves into the investigative process with a nearly fetishistic attention to detail, but he makes all of it endlessly mesmerizing. He does his best to bring everything to some sort of conclusion, but the real-life end to the story makes a complete conclusion impossible. This film is more about the journey than the destination, and what a journey it is.

Grade: A


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