FIGHT CLUB Comic-Con Panel Recap; Chuck Palahniuk and David Fincher Recall the Battles Behind the Original Book and Film

     July 27, 2014


There wasn’t very much talk at all of the recently announced Dark Horse Fight Club 2 comic during the panel with author Chuck Palahniuk and director David Fincher on Saturday night at the San Diego Comic-Con.  And there were absolutely no new images shown (or any kind of visual presentation for that matter).  But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a thrilling panel for fans of Fincher, Palahniuk, the original book and the 1999 film.

It was a mostly anecdotal affair, full of stories and trivia about the making of the classic Brad Pitt, Edward Norton film and the inception of Palahniuk’s novel (with a little bit of information about the upcoming sequel).  Which meant it was a perfectly satisfying event for those who lined up for hours to celebrate what has now become a legitimate pop culture phenomenon.  Also present were Palahniuk’s longtime editor Gerald Howard (Doubleday) and moderator Rick Kleffel.  Hit the jump for our Fight Club Comic-Con panel recap.

fight-club-comic-con-panel-recap-bookPanel Highlights

  • Palahniuk starts things off with a story of a fight that occurred while camping.  The people in the next tent were playing music too loud and there was a confrontation.  He was beaten so bad that no one at work looked at him for six weeks. He began to think, “if you look bad enough no one asks you what happened.”  He then started writing a short story.  The seven rules of Fight Club came to him arbitrarily.
  • His longtime editor Gerry Howard encouraged him to keep writing and to turn the short story into a novel.  He thought the material was “great, wonderful and dangerous.”  The book is now (unbelievably) 18 years old.
  • The Fight Club novel sold fewer than five thousand hardcover copies upon its release.  The rest of the copies were rotting in a warehouse until the movie came out.  The paperback did okay before the film’s release but then became a bestseller after it hit theaters.
  • Upon first read Fincher thought the book was about coming of age, confusion and the life left to us by our fathers.  He read it knowing that Fox was about to buy it.  After putting it down he made the call to purchase the rights but Fox had beat him to it.  Fincher then met with Laura Ziskin, a producer at Fox 2000 which was an outside banner for the studio at the time.
  • Fincher and the studio met with various screenwriters before agreeing on Jim Uhls. The first draft had no voiceover.  Fincher was shocked by the omission, “what the fuck are you doing?”  It turns out the studio and a producer (who was not named at the panel) had talked Uhls out of the voicevoer. The producer was fired and 14 months later a draft with the voiceover came in.
  • Fincher initially thought he could to the film on a budget of $22 Million.  Months later he had a 140 page draft of the script, 300 pages of storyboards and a 60 page budget that totaled $65 Million.  He handed the budget over to the studio at a dinner and told them they had 72 hours to decide if they were going to make his version of the film.
  • Fight Club was initially set to open in May of 1999, but then Columbine happened and the film was pushed to October of that year.
  • fight-club-comic-con-panel-recap-endingFincher thought audiences overreacted to the film’s violence, especially the footage of Jared Leto’s Angel Face being beaten.  “People offend way too easily,” he remarked.  The image of a penis that occupies 3 of the final frames in the film was also a huge battle with the studio, though producers Laura Ziskin and Bill Mechanic remained resolute to see Fincher’s vision through.
  • Jim Uhls originally thought the ending of the film was too depressing, but Fincher countered with, “who the fuck doesn’t want to see credit card companies blown up?”
  • The marketing of the film was also a clash. Bill Mechanic and Laura Ziskin were great, but the marketing meetings were brutal. They were told, “men don’t want to see Brad Pitt with his shirt off and women don’t want to see fighting.” Fincher commented that the film was made for $65 Million and grossed $100 Million worldwide, which means it probably lost $40 Million at the box office.
  • Before committing to participate in the film’s Blu-ray release, Fincher asked Fox how many copied the original DVD had sold.  The answer was 13 million, which finally puts the film into profitable territory.
  • The panel then steered into Dark Horse’s upcoming Fight Club 2 release.  The graphic novel will be a straight sequel to Palahniuk’s original book.
  • Palahniuk wrote the entire script himself and will likely do another polish before the release.  Everyone is extremely happy with Cameron Stewart’s art for the book which makes the material feel like it’s “a step away from reality.”


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