Zodiac

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  • Directed By: David Fincher
  • Written By: James Vanderbilt
  • Release Date: March 2, 2007
  • Domestic Distributor: Paramount
  • Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards

Box Office Info:
Budget: $65 millionFinanced by: Warner Bros; Paramount
Domestic Box Office: $33,080,084Overseas Box Office: $51,705,830

zodiac david fincher
Robert Graysmith’s 1986 Zodiac book was first optioned by Disney and numerous screenplays were commissioned by the mouse house, but the project never materialized.  In 2002, Disney’s option expired and Graysmith published a sequel Zodiac Unmasked and the rights for both went onto the market for bids Phoenix Pictures won the heated auction and began to develop and package the film.

Warner Bros and Paramount took on financing duties for the project, with a reported $65 million budget.  Paramount handled US distribution and Warner Bros was responsible for the overseas release.  Zodiac marked the first of a two-picture deal between Paramount, WB and director David Fincher — where Paramount agreed to allow Fincher to helm Zodiac first and then immediately segue into production on their long in-development The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and the same financing/distribution arrangement would be set for that film.

Zodiac was expected to land a fall 2006 release and be a major awards contender, but Fincher’s edit came in at just over three hours and despite having final cut, he opted to spend more time whittling the movie down.  The movie was then pushed back with a tentative January 19, 2007 release date and eventually positioned on March 2, 2007.  Zodiac received strong reviews and also landed a coveted competition slot at the Cannes Film Festival, which would screen in mid May.

Zodiac bowed against the critically eviscerated Wild Hogs and another Paramount title Black Snake Moan, which was put out by their specialty label Paramount Vantage.  Zodiac was tracking for a low to mid teens bow and was expected to be handicapped by its 157 min length, reducing the number of showings per day.  It opened within expectations at $13,395,610 — placing #2 for the weekend, behind Wild Hogs.  Paramount expected Zodiac to play well over the upcoming weeks as the picture skewed to an older audience, who normally don’t flood theaters opening weekend — but Warner Bros released 300 the following frame, which took much of Zodiac‘s audience.  The movie fell 50.4% to $6,641,870 and declined 50.5% in its third frame to $3,287,560 and closed its domestic run with a poor $33,080,084.  Paramount would see back about $18.1 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not cover the P&A spend or any of their half of the budget.

Warner Bros saw slightly better results with a $51.7 million overseas cume.  The film pulled in a respectable $9 million in France, a mediocre $7.3 million in the UK and $5.5 million in Spain, but it posted soft numbers in most markets.

Paramount launched an end of the year awards campaign for Zodiac, screening Fincher’s director’s cut, but the movie was shut out completely.  Paramount also had a stronger and more successful awards push for No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood.

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