15 Cryptic Facts About “Zodiac”

Known for this dark and poetic thrillers David Fincher certainly has a style of his own.  And it’s a style so iconic that even recent superhero movies seem to be taking a page from his book.  Many will debate which of his movies is best, and honestly a case could be made for all of them.  But one that often stands out as his masterpiece is 2007’s Zodiac.

In honor of its 15th anniversary today, we thought it would be fitting and fun to look at 15 interesting facts about Zodiac!

1. Prior to beginning production, David Fincher and other producers spent 18 months researching the Zodiac case.  This included interviewing as many witness, family members, suspects, and police as they could who were still alive.

2. Having grown up in the San Francisco area during the Zodiac killings, David Fincher has a childhood memory of being followed from school by a police car because of fears over Zodiac’s letter threatening to shoot school children on a bus.

3. Heavily based on the book written by Robert Graysmith, who is portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie.  He later gave up his career as a cartoonist and went on to write several more true crime books.

Robert Graysmith
Graysmith is still alive today and even wrote a book about the making of the movie called “Shooting Zodiac”.

4. Initially going to be produced by Sony, they insisted that the movie be capped at 2 hours.  However David Fincher knew this was not possible, so he reached a joint deal with Paramount and Warner Brothers.

5. In order to be as accurate as possible, David Fincher decided that only murders that involved either a witness or a survivor would be depicted in the movie so that they wouldn’t be speculating anything.  Even the actors playing Zodiac are different in each scene to match whatever that witness claimed.

Zodiac cover
It makes these scenes all the more chilling, knowing that they’re largely playing out exactly how they happened, per the witnesses testimony.

6. The infamous z340 cipher featured in the movie (that was left unsolved) was finally solved on December 5, 2020.

7. Robert Downey Jr. and Jake Gyllenhaal were reportedly unhappy with David Fincher’s directing style and his habit of shooting dozens of takes.

8. Fincher modeled the tone and style of the movie on 1976’s All the President’s Men.

9. Shot on location in and around San Francisco.  Although many locations had to be digitally or practically altered to look more like they did in the late 60’s.

Zodiac 9
There’s a lot more CGI than you’d expect. But it’s blended very well with the background so it’s not as noticeable.

10. Despite being married and having three children, Dave Toschi’s wife and daughters refused to participate in or be portrayed or even referenced in the movie.

11. Following the movie’s release, the FBI officially re-opened the Zodiac case, after having closed it in 2004.  As of 2021, the case is still technically “open”, although most of the leads and clues have gone cold.

Zodiac 11
Up until his death in 2018, Dave Toschi firmly believed Arthur Leigh Allen to be the killer. Although he never had any proof.

12. After watching the movie, the real Robert Graysmith reportedly remarked, “Now I see why my wife divorced me!”

13. Nominated for Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Movie at the Saturn Awards but lost to 300.

14. After barely making back its production budget at the box office (not even counting marketing costs), the film was considered a flop.  Much of the blame was place on how the marketing was mishandled as many trailers suggested it was more of a slasher movie.

15. Despite this, Zodiac was received extremely well by critics and audiences in retrospect.  Many consider it to be among Fincher’s top 3 movies along with Fight Club and Se7en.

Which of these did you already know?  Which ones surprised you?  Let us know in the comments!

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