Zodiac (2007) Poster



The South Korean film director Bong Joon Ho has classified David Fincher's film as a "masterpiece," writing that "...there was really nothing to find fault with about it, down to the cinematography, art direction and action."
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The Zodiac case was reopened after the release of the film.
The shooting script was 200 pages long. To prevent any problems with length that such a long script might cause, David Fincher decided to ask his actors to speak faster.
(at around 8 mins) The real-life Zodiac survivor, Bryan C. Hartnell, makes a cameo with his wife in the police station.
The only real comment that Robert Graysmith said about the finished screenplay was "God, now I see why my wife divorced me".
The producers hired a private investigator to track down the real-life Zodiac survivor, Mike Mageau.
The murder victims' costumes were meticulously recreated from forensic evidence that was lent to the production.
When Mark Ruffalo met David Toschi, the investigator he plays in the film, he was very impressed to learn that Toschi had perfect recall of every detail of every case.
Zodiac's confirmed [to date] first murder on Lake Herman Road was excluded from the film because there was no surviving victim to corroborate details. In the spirit of accuracy, the creators decided to not include the Lake Herman killings, but instead begin with the July 4th crime, considered to be his second murder.
Robert Graysmith and Paul Avery were not actually friends. Their relationship is fictionalized for the film.
(at around 1h 35 mins) Scenes of Dave Toschi and Robert Graysmith watching Dirty Harry (1971) were filmed inside the Mann National Theatre in Westwood, CA. The garish color schemes of the movie theater were not added by the art department. The very retro interiors of the theater had remained unchanged since 1969, when the National was first built. Interestingly, "Zodiac" played at the Mann National Theatre in mid March of 2007. Thus, actual moviegoers watched celluloid moviegoers occupying their seats -- on the National's trademark large screen. The theater has since been torn down.
Hair was digitally added to the close-ups of Jake Gyllenhaal's knuckles as he draws or holds letters. David Fincher felt that Gyllenhaal's hands were too hairless and pretty.
Jake Gyllenhaal shares one of the film's creepiest scenes with Charles Fleischer. In real life, the two have known each other since Gyllenhaal was three years old.
Jake Gyllenhaal was a little mystified when David Fincher gave him a doll and an old-fashioned diaper as preparation for his role as a young father.
David Fincher was always first choice to direct, based on his work on Se7en (1995).
Trees had to be helicoptered in to the Lake Berryessa location, as the area had changed substantially since 1969 and David Fincher wanted it to resemble the murder site as closely as possible.
Because he wanted the film to be as accurate as possible, David Fincher decided not to depict any of the alleged Zodiac murders for which there were no surviving victims or witnesses.
(at around 33 mins) Dave Toschi in real life was the inspiration for Steve McQueen's performance in Bullitt (1968). In the film, Graysmith mentions that Toschi wears his gun like Bullitt. Avery replies that Bullitt got it from Toschi.
Initially David Fincher wanted to cast Brad Pitt as Avery before he settled on Robert Downey Jr. instead.
Anthony Edwards was cast as Armstrong because David Fincher wanted him to be played by a thoroughly decent person. Fincher already knew him, not so much from his work on ER (1994), but because he was a neighbor.
David Fincher, screenwriter James Vanderbilt and producer Brad Fischer spent 18 months conducting their own research into the Zodiac murders. During that time, they interviewed witnesses, family members, suspects, retired and current investigators, the only two surviving victims and the mayors of San Francisco and Vallejo.
In order to save time, David Fincher decided to digitally add all the blood in the murder scenes.
Dermot Mulroney had to wear a fat suit for his few short scenes, because David Fincher felt he was in far too good shape for his character.
Robert Downey Jr. was so unaccustomed to the experience of both David Fincher's multiple takes and the process of filming digitally that he rebelled against the director for "having no time to get my shit together in my trailer" by hiding mason jars full of his urine on set.
Even though Jake Gyllenhaal was David Fincher's first choice for the role of Robert Graysmith, had Gyllenhaal turned the role down, Fincher's second choice was Orlando Bloom.
This film pays homage to Dirty Harry (1971), whose foe, Scorpio, was based on the Zodiac murderer. Another fictional policeman also encountered a foe called Scorpio around this time. In the Robert Graysmith book, they note that around the time of the Zodiac murders, the police investigated a possible connection to the Dick Tracy comic strip, as Dick Tracy faced a Zodiac-themed gang directed by a mastermind called Scorpio.
David Fincher's template for the film was Alan J. Pakula's All the President's Men (1976).
The film was shot in 110 days.
In real life, Melvin Belli never touched the Zodiac letter mailed to him.
Although the film was shot digitally, certain segments - mainly those in slow motion - had to be shot on film.
David Fincher was particularly keen on having David Shire provide the music for the film, as he had done so effectively on All the President's Men (1976). His sound editor Ren Klyce got in touch with the legendary Walter Murch, who had worked on The Conversation (1974) with Shire, who in turn contacted Shire.
The cab scene on Washington and Cherry Streets in San Francisco could not be entirely shot in San Francisco due to filming restrictions and the opposition of the neighborhood residents. So, the production constructed a set replicating the intersection, including the street, apartments and crime scene, at Downey Studios just outside of Los Angeles. Backdrops of San Francisco were digitally inserted to complete the scene. Only a few seconds of actual footage shot in the original crime scene location remains in the film.
Shane Salerno optioned the Robert Graysmith book "Zodiac" when he was just nineteen years old, and developed it with Graysmith for several years, before selling it to Disney's Touchstone Pictures in a seven-figure deal. Salerno wrote several drafts of the screenplay before multiple administration changes at Touchstone derailed the project.
The 110 day shoot included five weeks shooting in the San Francisco Bay area. The film was brought in under budget.
Invariably for location shots, it was cheaper to digitally erase satellite dishes rather than physically take them down.
Ione Skye appears in this movie in an uncredited cameo. "Hurdy Gurdy Man", by her father, Donovan, is used prominently in the soundtrack.
(at around 40 mins) As Robert Graysmith drives his son to school, the broadcaster on his car radio makes a reference to the then-forthcoming free concert by The Rolling Stones at the Altamont Speedway. It was Melvin Belli's recommendation to the Rolling Stones to hold this particular concert.
Daniel Craig was first choice for Paul Avery.
Was sent to theaters under the name "Gemini".
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."
Variety reported on 6 July 2005 that Gary Oldman had signed to portray attorney Melvin Belli in this film, and a later story in the Hollywood Reporter stated that he had done so. On 14 February 2006, Gary Oldman's management company, The Douglas Management Group, issued a statement that the Hollywood Reporter story was not true, and that "Mr. Oldman is not in the film and never was." However, in an interview on 2 March 2007 with Cinematical, the "Zodiac" author Robert Graysmith stated, "Now we had Gary Oldman at one point, to play Melvin Belli. 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."
The US Blu-ray released by Paramount Home Video had a very limited run. For a while, the Blu-ray became one of the rarest on the market; fetching prices close to $100 from second-hand online retailers, until Warner Home Video acquired the Paramount catalogue in 2012 and re-released it the following year.
(at around 44 mins) TV host Jim Dunbar mentions Melvin Belli's appearance on Star Trek in the A.M. San Francisco scene. Belli guest-starred in Star Trek: And the Children Shall Lead (1968)," first aired on October 11, 1968.
Philip Baker Hall had also previously starred in The Zodiac (2005), another film adaptation of the Zodiac Killer. He played Frank Perkins.
The role of Linda Ferrin was initially played by Bijou Phillips. Her scenes needed to be re-shot but Phillips was not available due to scheduling conflicts, so the role went to Clea DuVall.
When David Fincher's planned adaptation of "The Black Dahlia" fell through, he was given James Vanderbilt's 158 page screenplay.
(at around 1h 28 mins) A time lapse shot shows the completion of the Transamerica Pyramid in 1972. At the time, it was one of the five tallest buildings in the world.
The cipher mailed to the Chronicle in the movie was actually mailed to the Examiner.
Over the years, changes have been made to Blue Rock Springs so the murders committed there had to be recreated at a different location that looked more like the park did in the 70s.
Edited using Final Cut Pro.
(at around 1h 45 mins) In the restaurant scene where Robert Graysmith is treating David Toschi to a hamburger, Toschi chews the hamburger for sometime before spitting the chewed food into a napkin. The reason for this was because Mark Ruffalo, who played Toschi, is a vegetarian and refuses to consume meat.
After Zodiac's bus threat is released to the public, Robert is discussing "The Water Theory" in regards to how Zodiac chooses his victims (Lake Berryessa, Blue Rock Springs, Washington & Cherry.) The film's palette makes the color blue very prevalent in most of the scenes. Some examples include:
  • Zodiac's letters are written in blue ink. The first is read by the editor who is wearing a blue shirt.

  • When reading the decoded cypher, thus introducing Avery and Graysmith to each other, they are both wearing blue shirts.

  • Robert is wearing a blue shirt in every scene he's in.

  • In Morti's Graysmith introduces to Paul Avery a blue drink called an Aqua Velva. In the following shot with the multiple empty glasses the song "Crystal Blue Persuasion" by Tommy James & The Shondells.

  • Melvin Belli's suit is navy with a light blue shirt.

  • The woman who pulls over to help a Zodiac victim is wearing a blue jacket.

  • Dave Toschi's suit is light blue when reading Zodiac's Halloween card.

  • Paul Avery's shirt on the plane is blue.

  • Arthur Leigh Allen's work coveralls are dark blue.

  • When Robert is on the phone while his kids are going over his files, the shirt he wears and the phone are both blue.

(at around 24 mins) The phone number 626-2345 displayed on the yellow cab in the film was the actual phone number for the Yellow Cab Co. in San Francisco. By the time that the film was released, the number had been changed.
The two leads, Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo, don't share a scene until 32 minutes and 37 seconds into the film.
James Vanderbilt had read Robert Graysmith's book in 1986 while in high school, and had actually met the man at the premiere of Paul Schrader's film Auto Focus (2002).
In the flyover shot of the early construction of the Transamerica Pyramid, the "box" foundation is completely devoid of any piles or columns. Unlike most conventional high-rise foundations, the Pyramid was uniquely constructed without any piles driven into the bedrock. The weight of the building actually rests on trusses at the first two levels, and the trusses rest on top of this "box".
Jake Gyllenhaal and John Carroll Lynch previously played father and son in Bubble Boy (2001).
(at around 14 mins) The bar Paul Avery frequents in the film is called Morti's. Mortis is Latin for death.
The Warner Bros. and Paramount logos used at the start of the film are almost identical to the ones used by the respective studios in 1969, but not completely. In the case of Warner Bros., their 1969 releases did not use their classic shield as depicted here, but instead carried a "Warner Bros.-Seven Arts" logo used when the studio had merged with Ray Stark and Eliot Hyman's production company Seven Arts. As for the Paramount logo, where it would have read "A Gulf+Western company" in 1969, it now reads "A Viacom company," reflecting current ownership.
Chosen by "Les Cahiers du cinéma" (France) as one of the 10 best pictures of 2007 (#5, tied with La France (2007)).
Though Callahan's Diner was a set built for the film, the Callahan's Diner logo and window script is identical to that used by Callahan's Diner at 1213 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, California. It's quite likely that members of the cast and/or crew of the film were familiar with the Santa Monica restaurant and used it as an art model for the San Francisco locale. The "Dirty Harry" reference inherent in the Diner's name may simply be an added plus.
(at around 1h 35 mins) Captain Lee tells Toschi to take some time off and "go to Candlestick." Candlestick Park was the home of the San Francisco Giants from its construction in 1960 to 2000, the San Francisco 49ers from 1971 to 2013, and the Oakland Raiders in 1961. In 2014, the 49ers moved to their new home at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara and Candlestick Park was demolished in 2015.
Two of the lead actors, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr., would go on to co-star in "The Avengers" (and subsequent Marvel Studios releases) as The Hulk and Iron Man respectively.
Toschi flies to Riverside on PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines). PSA was one of the first large discount airlines, operating from 1949 to 1988 when it was integrated into USAir. It is not related to Southwest Airlines.
The KYA radio station jingle can be heard in the opening scene. KYA began broadcasting in 1926 in San Francisco, and had adopted a Top 40 format by the film's time frame.
Clea DuVall previously starred in Helter Skelter (2004). Both films are about murders which took place in California in 1969.
In the newsroom scene (43 Min), the theme music is that used by National Nine News (Australia) in the 80s and 90s.
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December 18th, the birthday of Arthur Leigh Allen is also the birthday of David Fincher's friend and frequent starer in his movies Brad Pitt and other famous people like Steven Spielberg, Ray Liotta and Katie Holmes.
Anthony Edwards (Bill) and Mark Ruffalo (Dave) both starred with Tom Cruise: Edwards in Top Gun (1986) and Ruffalo in Collateral (2004).
In one of the zodiac's letters, he muses on who would portray him in a film about him. In this film, he is portrayed by three seperate actors, and in any shot featuring the Zodiac, the actor's faces are always out of focus or obscured. This served to keep the audience guessing, and perhaps as a balk to the actual Zodiac killer so that he wouldn't be potrayed by a visible, or famous actor.
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Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. appeared three times together after this movie: The Avengers (2012), Iron Man Three (2013) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Talks with Sony fell through when the studio insisted that the film should not be any longer than two hours and fifteen minutes. Warner Brothers and Paramount agreed to share the production costs, even though a "talky" film with an inconclusive ending was a tough sell.
At around 2h 30 mins) When Robert comes face-to-face with Arthur Leigh Allen in the hardware store, the music playing is "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty. As this is Robert's "Sherlock Holmes" moment, this is likely not coincidental.

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