Overview

Fight Club is a 1999 American film based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The film was directed by David Fincher and stars Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter.

Storyline

A ticking-time-bomb insomniac and a slippery soap salesman channel primal male aggression into a shocking new form of therapy. Their concept catches on, with underground “fight clubs” forming in every town, until an eccentric gets in the way and ignites an out-of-control spiral toward oblivion.

Interesting facts

  • Director David Fincher shot over 1,500 reels of film, more than three times the usual amount for a 120 minute film.
  • Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) was originally going to recite a workable recipe for home-made explosives (as he does in the novel). But in the interest of public safety, the filmmakers decided to substitute fictional recipes for the real ones.
  • Author Chuck Palahniuk has stated that he found the film to be an improvement on his novel.
  • Although he refused to smoke in Rounders (his character played poker for cigarettes, but did not smoke), Edward Norton agreed to smoke for this film.
  • During an exterior shoot in an urban residential area, a man in one of the apartments above the working film crew got so annoyed with the noise that he threw a 40 oz. beer bottle at them. The bottle hit director of photography Jeff Cronenweth, who, although he was cut open, was not seriously injured; the man was arrested shortly afterward.
  • The reverse-tracking shot out of the trash can, an elaborate digitally animated sequence, was the very last shot to be added to the film. It required so much processing time that it almost had to be spliced in “wet” – i.e., fresh from the lab – so that the film could be duplicated on schedule. Due to the amount of reflective surfaces in the shot, it took almost 8 hours to render a single frame. The entire shot took 3 weeks to render.
  • In the short scene when Brad Pitt and Edward Norton are drunk and hitting golf balls, they really are drunk, and the golf balls are sailing directly into the side of the catering truck.
  • During rehearsals, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton found out that they both hated the new Volkswagen Beetle with a passion, and for the scene where Tyler and The Narrator are hitting cars with baseball bats, Pitt and Norton insisted that one of the cars be a Beetle. As Norton explains on the DVD commentary, he hates the car because the Beetle was one of the primary symbols of 60s youth culture and freedom. However, the youth of the 60s had become the corporate bosses of the 90s, and had repackaged the symbol of their own youth, selling it to the youth of another generation as if it didn’t mean anything. Both Norton and Pitt felt that this kind of corporate selling out was exactly what the film was railing against, hence the inclusion of the car; “It’s a perfect example of the Baby Boomer generation marketing its youth culture to us. As if our happiness is going to come by buying the symbol of their youth movement, even with the little flower holder in the plastic molding. It’s appalling to me. I hate it.” However, Pitt is quoted on the DVD commentary as saying he has since had a change of heart about the new Beetle.
  • The brown station wagon against which Edward Norton falls in his first fight with Brad Pitt is the same brown station wagon used in The Game, in which Michael Douglas hid while James Rebhorn drove him to CRS headquarters. The car has a CRS sticker on the windshield (although the sticker cannot be seen in the actual film – David Fincher mentions it on his DVD commentary).
  • Three detectives in the film are named Detective Andrew, Detective Kevin, and Detective Walker. Andrew Kevin Walker was the writer of the David Fincher film Se7en (also starring Brad Pitt), and did some uncredited work on this movie’s script.
  • In Tyler Durden’s house there is a Movieline magazine cover featuring Drew Barrymore, a close friend of Edward Norton. The Blu-Ray edition of the film (released in November 2009) contains another “in-joke” reference to Barrymore; a fake menu for the film Never Been Kissed, which was released the same year as this film.
  • While Edward Norton is trying to convince Helena Bonham Carter to leave the city by bus, the crew arranged cinema signs to make references to other films the cast had been in, although only one is visible during the actual scene. Seven Years in Tibet (starring Brad Pitt) is visible, although the sign letters actually say “Seven Year In Tibe” as if the theatre didn’t have the required letters. Other marquees (in the far background, and not visible) reportedly said The People vs. Larry Flynt (starring Norton) and The Wings of the Dove (starring Carter).
  • The telephone number of the Paper Street Soap Company (as printed on the phone the Narrator uses to call the “1888″ office building near the end of the movie) is (288) 555-1534. The Paper Street Soap Company’s phone number as listed on Tyler’s business card is (288) 555-0153. Richard Chesler’s (Zach Grenier) business card shows a phone number of (288) 555-0138. At the time of the film’s release, area code 288 was “reserved for future use”.
  • The “filing cabinet” apartment block that the Narrator lives in is called “Pierson Towers”, and the motto is “a place to be somebody” which is the city motto for Wilmington, Delaware (which is where the novel is set, and where the film was going to be set until the production ran into trouble with legal clearances).
  • The typeface used for the titles and logo is named “Fight This”.
  • Some of fake names used by the narrator in the self-help groups are taken from Planet of the Apes (Cornelius), as well as classic roles played by Robert De Niro (such as Rupert from The King of Comedy and Travis from Taxi Driver).
  • Director of Photography Jeff Cronenweth’s sister, Christie Cronenweth appears in the film as the airline check-in attendant who tells the Narrator he is three hours early for his flight.
  • Much confusion exists amongst fans about the Narrator’s name. Many believe it is Jack due to his use of the phrase “I am Jack’s…”, but others argue that he only uses the moniker Jack because that was the one he saw in “Annotated Reader”. Interestingly, in the press packages released for the movie, which came in the form of an Ikea-esque catalog, the character is referred to as Jack, as he is on the back of the DVD, and in the booklet accompanying the DVD, where the Chapter list is referred to as “Jack’s Chapters”. Also, the original screenplay by Jim Uhls refers to him as Jack. On the other hand, in the closed captions for the film, he is referred to as Rupert. Edward Norton reveals that he refers to the character as Jack on the audio commentary on the DVD and Blu-ray.
  • The only remaining pink and white giant “fat soap” prop (appox. 12″ x 10″) featured in the movie can be seen briefly but clearly behind the character Warren Henley in a scene in the film Automatic as a framed piece of art.
  • The original “pillow talk”-scene had Marla saying “I want to have your abortion”. When this was objected to by Fox 2000 Pictures President of Production Laura Ziskin, David Fincher said he would change it on the proviso that the new line couldn’t be cut. Ziskin agreed and Fincher wrote the replacement line, “I haven’t been fucked like that since grade school”. When Ziskin saw the new line, she was even more outraged and asked for the original line to be put back, but, as per their deal, Fincher refused.
  • The movie’s line “The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club” was #27 of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” by Premiere in 2007.
  • The ‘soap slam on dish’ shot used in the trailer took 41 takes to get right. After the 40th take, director David Fincher realized that the soap was sliding out of frame and so he settled for a fake soap prop.
  • Starbucks pulled their name from the coffee shop destruction scene. They didn’t mind the director placing their product throughout the film, but did not want their name to be destroyed in that scene. Therefore, the gold globe crashes into a shop named Gratifico Coffee.
  • Edward Norton lost 17-20 pounds for this role after having to beef up tremendously for his role as a Neo-Nazi skinhead in American History X. Norton achieved this form by running, taking vitamins and just ignoring the on-set catering.
  • Courtney Love and Winona Ryder were both initially considered for the role of Marla Singer, but in the end, it came down to Helena Bonham Carter and Reese Witherspoon. Director David Fincher wanted Bonham-Carter, but the studio wanted a bigger name and chose to go with Witherspoon. In the end however, the decision was taken out of their hands when Witherspoon turned down the role as being “too dark”, and Bonham-Carter was cast.
  • David Fincher took 12 takes of the stuntman rolling down the stairs for the fight between The Narrator and Tyler at the end of the film. The take used in the movie is the very first one.
  • Author Chuck Palahniuk named Tyler Durden after the character of Toby Tyler in Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus, and a man called Durden with whom Palahniuk worked, who was fired for sexual harassment. Marla Singer was named after a young girl called Marla who used to beat up Palahniuk’s sister in school.
  • Author Chuck Palahniuk first came up with the idea for the novel after being beaten up on a camping trip when he complained to some nearby campers about the noise of their radio. When he returned to work, he was fascinated to find that nobody would mention or acknowledge his injuries, instead saying such commonplace things as “How was your weekend?” Palahniuk concluded that the reason people reacted this way was because if they asked him what had happened, a degree of personal interaction would be necessary, and his workmates simply didn’t care enough to connect with him on a personal level. It was his fascination with this societal ‘blocking’ which became the foundation for the novel.
  • The film’s title sequence is a pullback from the fear center of The Narrator’s brain, and is supposed to represent the thought processes initiated by The Narrator’s fear impulse. The sequence was conceived by director David Fincher and budgeted separately from the rest of the film. The studio told Fincher that they would only finance the elaborate sequence if the film itself was any good. After seeing a rough cut, they decided they were happy and so the sequence went ahead. The CG brain was mapped using an L-system, with renderings by medical illustrator Kathryn Jones, and was designed by Kevin Scott Mack of Digital Domain.
  • Edward Norton’s apartment building, Pearson Towers, which he returns to at the beginning of the film to find his possessions strewn all over the sidewalk is actually Promenade Towers located at 123 South Figueroa in downtown Los Angeles. The apartment building’s slogan in the movie is “A Place to be Somebody” while the actual apartment building’s slogan is “A City in a City”.
  • Marla Singer’s phone number, 555-0134, is the same as Teddy’s number in Memento. It is also the same as the Hong Kong Restaurant in Harriet the Spy, Eddie Alden’s in Someone Like You… and a Mental institution in an episode of Millennium.
  • After the copyright warning, there is another warning on the DVD. This warning is from Tyler Durden, and is only there for a second. “If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this is useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all who claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think everything you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told you should want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned… Tyler”
  • David Fincher claimed in an interview in UK film magazine Empire, that there is a Starbucks coffee cup visible in every shot in the movie (see also The Game) .
  • When a Fight Club member sprays the priest with a hose, the camera briefly shakes. This happens because the cameraman couldn’t keep himself from laughing.
  • The workprint for this film ran about 153 minutes.
  • When the Narrator is writing haiku poems at work and sending them to coworkers, the names on the email list include those of Production Assistants and other crew members.
  • The Narrator works at Federated Motor Corporation, in the Compliance and Liability division. FMC is located at 39210 North Pennfield Boulevard in Bradford (the state is not specified).
  • Helena Bonham Carter wore platform shoes to help close up the disparity in height between her and Edward Norton and Brad Pitt.
  • The sex scene between Tyler (Brad Pitt) and Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) was shot using the same ‘bullet-time’ technique used in The Matrix; stills cameras were set up in a circle around the bed, and each one would take a single shot in sequence. These single frames were then edited together and enhanced with CG, as both Pitt and Bonham Carter were fully clothed in motion capture suits during the shoot.
  • To prepare for their roles, Edward Norton and Brad Pitt took basic lessons in boxing, taekwondo and grappling, and also studied hours of UFC programming. Additionally, they both took soapmaking classes from boutique company Auntie Godmother. Prior to principal photography, Pitt also visited a dentist to have his front tooth chipped.
  • The term ‘Paper Street’ refers to a road or street that has been planned by city engineers but has yet to be constructed. A paper street is sometimes published in common street directories by accident, but does not yet exist.
  • Voted #4 in Total Film’s 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time list (November 2005).
  • The burnt out car that Edward Norton’s character is examining is a 1990 Lincoln Town Car. It’s also the same car the Narrator and Tyler crash later in the film. Additionally, Tyler says he’d like to fight Abraham Lincoln.
  • Near the beginning of the film, a poster for the band 311 can be seen behind The Narrator’s head, in the pawn shop scene with Marla.
  • Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) says she goes to support groups because “It’s cheaper than a movie, and there’s free coffee”. In Margaret’s Museum (starring Helena Bonham Carter), Kate Nelligan says she goes to funerals because it’s cheaper than bingo, and there’s free food.
  • The front of the product packaging for “Avery 8293 Matte White High-Visibility Labels for Inkjet Printers” shows a sample usage of the label on a shipping package. The address on this label is, “Tyler Durden 420 Paper St. Wilmington, DE”
  • Voted #10 on Empire magazine’s 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time (September 2008).
  • The phrase, “You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world” is inspired by the book “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
  • When the Narrator hits Tyler Durden in the ear, Edward Norton actually did hit Brad Pitt in the ear. He was originally going to fake hit him, but before the scene, David Fincher pulled Norton aside and told him to hit him in the ear. After Norton hit him in the scene, you can see him smiling and laughing while Pitt is in pain.
  • According to author Chuck Palahniuk, much of the specific content of the novel (such as splicing single frames of pornography into family films, attending support groups for the terminally ill, erasing video tapes etc) came from stories told him by friends, and from things his friends actually did. Whilst writing the novel, Palahniuk also interviewed numerous young white males in white-collar jobs, discovering that “the longing for fathers was a theme I heard a lot about. The resentment of lifestyle standards imposed by advertising was another.”
  • Fox 2000 Pictures executive Raymond Bongiovanni, who died shortly before the project was green-lit, first discovered the book whilst still in galleys. Prior to his death, Bongiovanni worked tirelessly to get the project off the ground, and in his obituary, it said that his last wish was that the novel be made into a film.

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