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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.

Director:

David Fincher

Writers:

James Vanderbilt (screenplay), Robert Graysmith (book)
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963 ( 182)
2 wins & 67 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jake Gyllenhaal ... Robert Graysmith
Mark Ruffalo ... Inspector David Toschi
Anthony Edwards ... Inspector William Armstrong
Robert Downey Jr. ... Paul Avery
Brian Cox ... Melvin Belli
John Carroll Lynch ... Arthur Leigh Allen
Richmond Arquette ... Zodiac 1 / Zodiac 2
Bob Stephenson ... Zodiac 3
John Lacy ... Zodiac 4
Chloë Sevigny ... Melanie
Ed Setrakian ... Al Hyman
John Getz ... Templeton Peck
John Terry ... Charles Thieriot
Candy Clark ... Carol Fisher
Elias Koteas ... Sgt. Jack Mulanax
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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:

Based on the true story of America's most notorious serial killer. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 March 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chronicles See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,395,610, 4 March 2007

Gross USA:

$33,080,084, 3 May 2007

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$84,785,914, 3 May 2007
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 and 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 cipher, 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 plays. Melvin Belli's suit is navy blue, 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 airplane 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 blue. See more »

Goofs

(at around 47 mins) The scene where Melvin Belli is to meet the Zodiac impostor at St. Vincent De Paul's Thrift Store in Daly City is actually filmed on the corner of 26th Ave. and Irving Street in San Francisco's Sunset District. In the background, the Sunset Supermarket can be seen, which did not have Chinese characters displayed at the time the movie took place. See more »

Quotes

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

Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
Written by Marvin Gaye and James Nyx
Performed by Marvin Gaye
Courtesy of Motown Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Stranger Urban Americans Fear: A Killer Playing the Most Dangerous Game
3 April 2007 | by classicalsteveSee all my reviews

The era in which Zodiac takes place bridges two eras in urban America. The Zodiac appeared on the tail end of a crime-spree that rampaged across the US in the late 1960's. His settling in the SF Bay Area may be one of a number of social phenomenons that pushed America's view of itself out of an innocent 1950's sensibility and into a harder and darker view that became more prevalent starting in the 1970's and into the 1980's. People, even in urban areas, used to be far more trusting of one another, friendly, and civil. Many of the events of the 1960's gave urban Americans a much more cynical and cautious attitude toward people they didn't know. Don't trust or talk to strangers. Better to sacrifice helpfulness than to wind up dead. People are out to take advantage. At least in urban areas nowadays, it seems, people are much less willing to take the risk to meeting someone they don't know, largely out of fear.

The film Zodiac chronicles the strange unknowable and faceless figure that emerged as a serial killer in Northern California in the late 1960's and early 1970's. He sent letters to the San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers, outlining his last and future kills, and he revealed he was inspired by the 1930's cult classic "The Most Dangerous Game". The point of view is largely from the side of the press with a character from SF Homicide that is also tracking the case. One character, Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an SF Chronicle cartoonist who at first takes an amateur's interest in the case, often bothering fellow beat journalist Paul Avery, played brilliantly by Robert Downey Jr. Only later does the cartoonist engage on his own investigation to reveal the identity of the Zodiac. When Graysmith begins receiving anonymous phone calls with nothing but heavy breathing, you can't help but wonder if he's also playing the same game, and if he may also become one of the hunted.

One of the most brilliant aspects of the film is its pacing. It never lets up and the suspense is always there, which becomes unsettling when you realize that these events actually took place instead of purely in the imagination of a modern suspense novelist. There is an eeriness which pervades the entire film. A car stopping unexpectedly in a nearly-deserted area is more frightening than most scenes in your average low-budget slasher flicks.

I do have a couple of shortcomings to this film. There are a couple of scenes where the cruelty and brutality of the violence is such that not all viewers will be able to handle this movie. I found I did have to turn away at a couple of scenes. Also, there are a couple of moments when the state of the investigation is not made clear. However, even given these shortcoming, Zodiac is a brilliant movie that tackles a subject-matter that probably could not have been brought to the screen during the period it depicts.

The Zodiac came to personify one of the constant fears of living in urban America: a faceless, emotionless killer that comes out of the shadows of a dark alley to commit heinous violence. In the end, we fear strangers because of this, but we end up sacrificing love. It is an ironic aspect of human nature that people can do to strangers what would be almost unthinkable to do to people that we know. In addition to the poor innocent people that were brutally murdered, the Zodiac committed another crime against humanity. He compromised our sense of trust, civility, and in many ways, love for our fellow human beings even when we might not know them.


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