David Fincher: ‘Fight Club’ Sold 13 Million DVDs–‘It Paid for Itself’

Fight Club Movie 1999

As Comic-Con fanboys and fangirls roared in excitement Saturday at Marvel’s Hall H panel, which featured the entire cast of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” one of the most popular films of the past 20 years was quietly discussed for a much smaller, attentive crowd at the San Diego Convention Center.

Director David Fincher, making a rare public appearance, sat and talked at length about 1999’s “Fight Club” with author Chuck Palahniuk — discussing everything from the story’s genesis to the project’s surprising marketing challenges, giving fans more insight on the cult film as it nears its 15th anniversary in October.

Though the movie, starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, is highly regarded today, it struggled mightily out of the gate.

“‘Fight Club’ sold less than 5,000 copies,” Palahniuk said of the 1996 book.

But Fincher, coming off the acclaimed and commercial hit “Seven” at the time, said he was immediately addicted to the novel. “I read it and couldn’t stop laughing,” he said. “Who the fuck doesn’t want to see credit card companies blow up?”

The feature adaptation of “Fight Club,” co-starring Helena Bonham Carter and Meat Loaf (or “Bitch Tits” as he was called in the film), was also a major disappointment at the box office in 1999 and received mixed reviews from critics.

Fincher, then 37 years old, said the risky project ultimately died at the box office because of false advertising, mostly from its distributor 20th Century Fox.

“Fox marketed ‘Fight Club’ mostly on the World Wrestling Federation. That’s when I knew we were doomed,” he said. He joked that the film was too “homoerotic” for WWF.

But it eventually paid off, as the director pointed out, saying, “‘Fight Club’ sold 13 million DVDs. It paid for itself.”

Bringing “Fight Club” to life onscreen, though, was not without challenges, even with star Brad Pitt on board to play Tyler Durden.

“Men don’t want to see Brad Pitt shirtless, and women don’t want to see him fighting,” Fincher said.

Fincher also noted that one person behind the scenes wanted to remove one of the film’s most iconic elements: the voiceover by Edward Norton.

“They wanted to make ‘Fight Club’ without a voiceover,” Fincher revealed. “So I fired that producer.”

It all worked out for the film, though, but Fincher says many people don’t “get” the message.

“‘Fight Club’ is about moving through a modern disconnected society,” Fincher said. “It’s a satire. Many don’t get that.”

Still, even the director has qualms about the movie’s fans.

“My daughter had a friend named Max. She told me ‘Fight Club’ is his favorite movie,” he said. “I told her never to talk to Max again.”

For his part, Palahniuk revealed the genesis for the novel that spawned it all.

“I noticed if you looked bad enough, no one asked you what happened,” he said.

Palahniuk recently announced that he’s developing a 10-issue max-series sequel to “Fight Club” for Dark Horse Comics, picking up 10 years after the novel left off. It’s set for release in April.

Fincher, whose next film “Gone Girl” is also based on a dark novel, summed up Palahniuk’s now-famous work in one sentence before heading off into the night.

“‘Fight Club’ is about the most dangerous thing in the world — ideas.”

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  1. John says:

    Actually “his name was Robert Paulson” not “bitch tits”. How could you mess that up?

  2. Mitjiva says:

    Fight Club is my favorite movie too x)

  3. Parkour says:

    Fight Club is the only movie I saw 5 times that year.
    Still hold the record. LOVED every seconds of it.

  4. Jay says:

    Fight Club is seriously one of my favorite movies ever. It came out the same year as The Matrix and I remember thinking ‘WOW. What a great way to end this millennium!’ I was blow away :)

  5. Roy says:

    LOL “only decent thing Fincher ever made” Everything he has done other than alien 3 I suppose has been great. The Social Network is a masterpiece, Fincher got robbed at the oscars. “The King’s Speech” is already forgettable just a few years later.

  6. LOL says:

    The greatest movie ever made. In fact, it’s the only decent thing Fincher ever made.

  7. Amy baina says:

    Edward Norton’s narrative made that movie. His voice was this calm in chaos that was needed. You needed to know his thoughts. It’s wonderful.

  8. Susannah says:

    I watched it the other day on cable for the first time and found the premise perverted and the content (especially the violence,) disturbing. Also, how does the Brad Pitt character blow his brains out at the end of the movie and then get up and walk away?

    • Daniel says:

      Always thought everything after that was like an afterlife dream sequence.

    • Spacecase says:

      My friend witnessed a murder when he was working at a gas station convenience store. The victim was a woman who was being chased by her gun wielding boyfriend. She was shot as she was entering the store and my friend saw her die. He also saw her boyfriend outside the store turn the gun on himself and shoot himself in the head. The boyfriend lived and my friend had to testify against him in court. Stuff like this happens all the time. Shooting yourself in the head in a careless way is not always a surefire way to die.

    • Colin Knapp says:

      People frequently fail at shooting themselves in the head, it’s not as easy as you might think. In this case the bullet went out the back of his cheek/throat, which you would probably survive.

    • Brad says:

      It was because the Edward Norton’s character finally realized he did not need Tyler and he controlled Tyler. Norton shooting himself was his own way of ridding of Tyler; the action is quite symbolic, albeit dramatic and potentially unnecessary. The shot offered Norton a sense of finality.

      • Atif says:

        The scene was not unnecessary. In real life there are numerous examples in which a person is facing a mental illness and suddenly a traumatic experience make him sane or change the state of mind. Shooting oneself is indeed traumatic but here I think that writers wants us to show that ‘Tyler’ which is another conscious part of Jack’s mind was fooled into thinking that Jack have killed himself thus he is dead too. When Jack instruct Tyler to look at him with the gun barrel in the mouth and says “My eyes are open”, he must have intention to fool Tyler. The scene is valid in any of the two or both cases.

      • Susannah says:

        Thanks for explaining, Colin!

  9. PETER says:

    Thanks.

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