David Fincher

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David Fincher
David Fincher (2012) 3.jpg
Fincher at the Paris premiere of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2012
David Andrew Leo Fincher

(1962-08-28) August 28, 1962 (age 57)
Years active1980–present
Donya Fiorentino
(m. 1990; div. 1995)

Ceán Chaffin
(m. 1996)

David Andrew Leo Fincher (born August 28, 1962) is an American director and producer of films, television, and music videos. His work has received multiple nominations in the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards. Born in Denver, Colorado, Fincher developed a passion for filmmaking at an early age. He first gained recognition from directing numerous music videos. He then made his directorial debut with the feature film Alien 3 (1992), which garnered mixed reviews, followed by the thriller Seven (1995), which was better received. Fincher found lukewarm success with The Game (1997) and Fight Club (1999), with the latter eventually becoming a cult classic. In 2002, he returned with a critical and box office success, Panic Room (2002).

Fincher also directed Zodiac (2007), the biographical drama The Social Network (2010) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). For The Social Network, he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director and BAFTA Award for Best Direction. His greatest commercial successes have been The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Gone Girl (2014), both grossing more than $300 million worldwide, and the former earning him thirteen nominations at the Academy Awards, and eleven at the British Academy Film Awards. He also served as an executive producer and director for the acclaimed Netflix series House of Cards (2013–2018) and Mindhunter (2017–2019), winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for the pilot episode of House of Cards. Fincher was the co-founder of Propaganda Films, a production company of film and music videos.

Early life[edit]

David Andrew Leo Fincher[1][2] was born on August 28, 1962, in Denver, Colorado,[3] the son of Claire Mae (née Boettcher), a mental health nurse from South Dakota who worked in drug addiction programs, and Howard Kelly "Jack" Fincher, an author from Oklahoma who worked as a reporter and bureau chief for Life magazine.[4][5] Howard died of cancer in April 2003.[1][6] When he was two years old, the family moved to San Anselmo, California, where filmmaker George Lucas was one of his neighbors.[5] Fincher was fascinated with filmmaking from the age of eight. After watching the documentary on the making of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), he began making films at age eight with an 8mm camera.[5][3] He said:

I was eight years old and I saw a documentary on the making of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It had never occurred to me that movies didn’t take place in real time. I knew that they were fake, I knew that the people were acting, but it had never occurred to me that it could take, good God, four months to make a movie! It showed the entire company with all these rental horses and moving trailers to shoot a scene on top of a train. They would hire somebody who looked like Robert Redford to jump onto the train. It never occurred to me that there were hours between each of these shots. The actual circus of it was invisible, as it should be, but in seeing that I became obsessed with the idea of “How?” It was the ultimate magic trick. The notion that 24 still photographs are shown in such quick succession that movement is imparted from it — wow! And I thought that there would never be anything that would be as interesting as that to do with the rest of my life.[7]

In his teens, Fincher moved to Ashland, Oregon, where he attended Ashland High School. He directed plays and designed sets and lighting after school, and was a non-union projectionist at a second-run movie theater, as well as a production assistant at the local television news station, KOBI in Medford, Oregon. He supported himself by working as a busboy, dishwasher and fry cook.[8]


1983-1991: Early work[edit]

While establishing himself in the film industry, Fincher was employed at John Korty's studio as a production head. Gaining further experience, he became a visual effects producer, working on the animated Twice Upon a Time (1983) with George Lucas.[5][9] He was hired by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) in 1983 as an assistant cameraman and matte photographer[5] and worked on Return of the Jedi (1983) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).[10] In 1984, he left ILM to direct a television commercial for the American Cancer Society that depicted a fetus smoking a cigarette.[5] This quickly brought Fincher to the attention of producers in Los Angeles, and he was soon given the opportunity to direct Rick Springfield's 1985 documentary, The Beat of the Live Drum.[11] Set on a directing career, Fincher co-founded production company Propaganda Films and started directing music videos and commercials.[11]

One of Fincher's cinematic music videos, Bad Girl by Madonna.
One of Fincher's cinematic music videos, "Bad Girl" by Madonna.

Other directors such as Michael Bay, Antoine Fuqua, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Alex Proyas, Paul Rachman, Mark Romanek, Zack Snyder and Gore Verbinski also honed their skills at Propaganda Films before moving on to feature films.[12] He directed TV commercials for many companies including Levi's, Converse, Nike, Pepsi, Revlon, Sony, Coca-Cola and Chanel, although he loathed doing them.[5][13] Starting in 1984, Fincher began to focus on music videos. He directed videos for various artists including singer-songwriters Rick Springfield, Martha Davis, Paula Abdul, rock band The Outfield, and R&B singer Jermaine Stewart. Fincher's 1986 music video for "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off", was the biggest commercial success for Stewart.[3] Fincher also directed Michael Jackson's "Who Is It", Aerosmith's "Janie's Got A Gun" and Billy Idol's "Cradle of Love". For Madonna, he directed videos for "Express Yourself", "Oh Father", "Vogue" and "Bad Girl".[11] Between 1984 and 1993, Fincher was credited as director for 53 music videos.[14] He referred to the production of music videos as his own kind of film school, in which he learned how to work efficiently within a small budget and time frame.[15][16]

1992–2000: Breakthrough[edit]

In 1990, 20th Century Fox hired Fincher to replace Vincent Ward as the director for the science-fiction horror Alien 3 (1992), his film directorial debut.[17] It was the third installment in the Alien franchise starring Sigourney Weaver; the film was released in May 1992 to a mixed reception from critics and was considered weaker than the preceding films.[18] During production, Fincher was hampered by disagreements from the film studio over the budget and screenplay. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone calls the film, "bold and haunting", despite the "struggle of nine writers" and "studio interference".[19] However, the film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects.[20] Years later, Fincher publicly expressed his dismay. In the book Director's Cut: Picturing Hollywood in the 21st Century, Fincher blames the producers for their lack of trust in him.[21] In an interview with The Guardian in 2009, he stated, "No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me."[22]

After this critical disappointment, Fincher eschewed from reading film scripts or directing another project.[23] He briefly retreated back to directing commercials and music videos, including the video for the song "Love Is Strong" by The Rolling Stones in 1994, which won the Grammy Award for Best Music Video.[24] Shortly, Fincher decided to make a foray back into film. He read Andrew Kevin Walker's original screenplay for Seven (1995), which had been revised by Jeremiah Chechik, the director attached to the project at one point. Fincher expressed no interest in directing the revised version, so New Line Cinema agreed to keep the original ending.[23][25] Starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, and Kevin Spacey, it tells the story of two detectives who attempt to identify a serial killer who bases his murders on the Christian seven deadly sins.[26] Seven was positively received by film critics was one of the highest-earning films of 1995, grossing more than $320 million worldwide.[27] Writing for Sight and Sound, John Wrathall said it "stands as the most complex and disturbing entry in the serial killer genre since Manhunter" and Roger Ebert opined that Seven is "one of the darkest and most merciless films ever made in the Hollywood mainstream."[28][29]

Following Seven, Fincher directed a music video for "6th Avenue Heartache" by The Wallflowers[30] and went on to direct his third feature film, the mystery thriller The Game (1997), written by the duo John Brancato and Michael Ferris.[31] Fincher also hired Seven screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker to contribute and polish the script.[32] Filmed on location in San Francisco, the story follows an investment banker, played by Michael Douglas, who receives an unusual gift from his younger brother (Sean Penn), where he becomes involved in a "game" that integrates with his everyday life, making him unable to differentiate between game and reality.[31] Upon The Game's release in September 1997, the film received generally favorable reviews but performed moderately at the box office.[33] Sometime afterwards, The Game garnered enough reappraisal to be included as part of the Criterion Collection.[34]

In August 1997, Fincher agreed to direct Fight Club, based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. It was his second film with 20th Century Fox after the troubled production of Alien 3.[35] Starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, the film is about an nameless office worker suffering from insomnia, who meets a salesman, and together form an underground fighting club as a form of therapy. Fox struggled with the marketing of the film, and were concerned that it would have a limited audience.[36] Fight Club premiered on October 15, 1999 in the United States to a polarized response and modest box office success; the film grossed $100.9 million against a budget of $63 million.[37] Initially, many critics thought the film was "a violent and dangerous express train of masochism and aggression."[38] However, in following years, Fight Club eventually became a cult favorite and gained appreciation and scrutiny for its multilayered themes; the film has been the source of critical analysis from academics and film critics.[39][40]

In 1999, Fincher was shortlisted by Columbia Pictures, as one of the potential directors for Spider-Man (2002), a live-action adaptation of the fictional comic-book character of the same name.[41] Fincher said, "I went in and told them what I might be interested in doing, and they hated it". Sam Raimi was chosen as director instead.[42][43]

2001–2010: Continued success[edit]

Eisenberg and Fincher at the 2010 New York Film Festival
Jesse Eisenberg and Fincher at the 2010 New York Film Festival.

In 2001, Fincher served as an executive producer for the first season of The Hire, a series of short films to promote BMW automobiles. The films were released on the internet in 2001.[44] Next in 2002, Fincher returned to another feature film, a thriller titled Panic Room. The story follows a single mother (Jodie Foster) and her daughter (Kristen Stewart) who hide in a safe room of their new home, during a home invasion by a trio, played by Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam, and Fight Club collaborator Jared Leto). Principal photography took place between January and November 2001. The film was theatrically released on March 29, 2002, after a month delay, to critical acclaim and commericial success.[45] In the United States and Canada, the film earned $96.4 million. In other countries, it grossed $100 million for a worldwide total of $196.4 million.[46] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle praised the filmmakers for their "fair degree of ingenuity... for 88 minutes of excitement" and the convincing performance given by Foster.[47] Fincher acknowledged Panic Room for being more mainstream, describing the film, "It’s supposed to be a popcorn movie—there are no great, overriding implications. It’s just about survival."[48]

Five years after Panic Room, Fincher returned on March 2, 2007 with Zodiac, a thriller based on Robert Graysmith's books about the search for the Zodiac, a real life serial murderer who terrorized communities between the late 1960s and early 1970s. Fincher first learnt of the project after being approached by producer Brad Fischer; he was intrigued by the story due to his childhood personal experience. "The highway patrol had been following our school buses", he recalled. His father told him, "There’s a serial killer who has killed four or five people... who’s threatened to... shoot the children as they come off the bus."[49] After extensive research on the case with fellow producers, Fincher formed a principal cast of Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey, Jr., Anthony Edwards and Brian Cox. It was the first of Fincher's films to be shot in digital, with a Thomson Viper FilmStream HD camera. However, high-speed film cameras were used for particular murder scenes.[50] Zodiac was well received, appearing in more than two hundred top ten lists (only No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood appeared in more).[51] However, the film struggled at the United States box office, earning $33 million, but did better overseas with a gross of $51.7 million.[52] Worldwide, Zodiac was a moderate success.[53] The film did not receive any Academy Award nominations.

In 2008, Fincher was attached to a film adaptation of the science-fiction novel, Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. However, Fincher said the film will unlikely go ahead due to problems with the script.[54] His next project was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's eponymous 1923 short story, about a man who is born as a seventy-year-old baby and ages in reverse. The romantic-drama marked Fincher's third collaboration with Brad Pitt, who stars opposite Cate Blanchett. The budget for the film was estimated to be $167 million, with very expensive visual effects utilized for Pitt's character.[55] Filming started in November 2006 in New Orleans, taking advantage of Louisiana's film incentive.[56] The film was theatrically released on December 25, 2008 in the United States to a commercial success and warm reception.[57][58] Writing for the USA Today, Claudia Puig praises the "graceful and poignant" tale despite it being "overlong and not as emotionally involving as it could be".[59] The film received thirteen Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director for Fincher, Best Actor for Pitt, and Best Supporting Actress for Taraji P. Henson, and won three, for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects.

Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig and David Fincher
Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig and Fincher at the premiere of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Fincher directed the 2010 film The Social Network, a biographical drama about Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg and his legal battles. The screenplay was written by Aaron Sorkin, who adapted it from the book The Accidental Billionaires. It stars Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg, with a supporting cast of Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer and Max Minghella. Principal photography started in October 2009 in Massachusetts and the film was released one year afterwards to wide acclaim.[60][61] The Social Network was also a commercial success, earning $224.9 million worldwide.[62] At the 83rd Academy Awards, the film received eight nominations and won three awards; soundtrack composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won for Best Original Score, and the other two awards were for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing.[63] The film also received awards for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Original Score at the 68th Golden Globe Awards.[64] Critics including Roger Ebert, complimented the writing, describing the film as having "spellbinding dialogue. It makes an untellable story clear and fascinating".[65]


In 2011, Fincher followed the success of The Social Network with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a psychological thriller based on the novel by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. Fincher worked closely with screenwriter Steven Zaillian to analyze the novel and develop the film adaptation. Featuring Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, it follows Blomkvist's investigation to solve what happened to a woman from a wealthy family who disappeared four decades prior. To maintain the novel's setting, the film was primarily shot in Sweden. The soundtrack, composed by collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, was described by A. O. Scott of The New York Times as, "unnerving and powerful".[66][67] Upon the film's release in December, reviews were mostly positive, with praise for the cinematography and lead actors. Scott adds, "Mr. Fincher creates a persuasive ambience of political menace and moral despair". Philip French of The Guardian praises the "authentic, quirky detail" and faithful adaptation.[68] The film received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress for Mara, and won the award for Best Film Editing.[69]

In 2013, Fincher served as an executive producer for the Netflix television series House of Cards, a political thriller about a Congressman's quest for revenge, of which he also directed the first two episodes.[70] The series received positive reviews, earning nine Primetime Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series. Fincher won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for the first episode.[71] He also directed a music for the first time since 2005, "Suit & Tie" by Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z, which won a Grammy Award for Best Music Video.[72] Following the publication of Dave Cullen's book, Columbine, which was adapted into a play in 2014, Fincher considered making it into a film, however, the idea was dropped due to its sensitive nature.[73] That same year, Fincher signed a deal with HBO for three television series, titled Utopia, Shakedown, and Videosyncrazy. In August 2015, budget disputes between him and the network halted production.[74] However, Utopia was soon picked up by Amazon Studios with Gillian Flynn as creator.[75]

Fincher and Gillian Flynn at the 52nd New York Film Festival.
Fincher and Gillian Flynn at the 52nd New York Film Festival.

2014 saw Fincher direct Gone Girl, an adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel of the same name, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.[76][77] Fincher even met with Flynn to discuss his interest in the project before a director was selected.[78] Set in Missouri, the story begins as a mystery that follows the events surrounding Nick Dunne (Affleck), who becomes the prime suspect in the sudden disappearance of his wife Amy (Pike). A critical and commercial success, the film earned $369 million worldwide against a $61 million budget, making it Fincher's most highest-grossing work to date.[79] Writing for Salon, Andrew O'Hehir praises the "tremendous ensemble cast who mesh marvelously", adding, "All the technical command of image, sound and production design for which Fincher is justly famous is here as well."[80] Gone Girl garnered awards and nominations in a variety of categories; Pike earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and Fincher received his third Golden Globe nomination for Best Director.[81]

In 2016, Fincher directed and produced for another series, crime thriller Mindhunter, starring Holt McCallany and Jonathan Groff. The series, based on the book Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit, debuted on Netflix worldwide on October 13, 2017.[82][83] As of 2019, Fincher also serves as an executive producer for Love, Death & Robots, an animated science-fiction web series for Netflix.[84]

Works in development[edit]

In 2015, it was announced that Fincher and Gillian Flynn were working on a "modern take" of the 1951 Alfred Hitchcock film, Strangers on a Train, for Warner Bros.[85] In July 2019, it was reported that Fincher had signed on to direct Mank, a biographical film centred on Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, with Gary Oldman playing the lead role.[86] Jim Gianopulos of Paramount Studios announced in June 2017 that a sequel to World War Z was "in advanced development" with Fincher and Brad Pitt.[87] In October 2018, producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner confirmed that filming would begin in June 2019 with Fincher as director.[88] However, in February 2019, the project was reportedly placed on hold by Paramount.[89]



Fincher did not attend film school, but he cited Alfred Hitchcock as a major influence, as well as filmmakers Martin Scorsese, George Roy Hill and Alan J. Pakula.[90] His personal favorite films include: All the President’s Men (1976), Taxi Driver (1976), Rear Window (1954), Zelig (1983), Paper Moon (1973), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), American Graffiti (1973), The Graduate (1967), Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).[91][92] Fincher suggested that Panic Room is a combination of "Rear Window meets Straw Dogs (1971)".[93] For Seven, Fincher and cinematographer Darius Khondji were inspired by films The French Connection (1971) and Klute (1971), as well as the work by photographer Robert Frank.[94] He has cited graphic designer Saul Bass as an inspiration for his own film title sequences; Bass designed many of them for prominent directors including Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick.[95]


Those are the moments where moviemaking is not like writing, and it’s not like the theater, and it’s not like performance art, and it’s not like sculpting. It’s truly its own discipline. There’s nothing else like it in those moments where you go, wow, here’s an intent that was probably never even thought of by the guy who wrote the book. And yet this person who may or may not have even read the source material has found this thing. That, for me, after the previsualization, is the most exciting part of the whole.[96]

—Fincher on serendipity during filmmaking.

Fincher's filmmaking process always begin with extensive research and preparation, although he said the process is different every time. "I enjoy reading a script that you can see in your head, and then I enjoy the casting and I enjoy the rehearsal, and I enjoy all the meetings about what it should be, what it could be, what it might be", he said.[97] Fincher admits he has autocratic tendencies and likes to micro-manage every part of the production.[96][98] “He was always a rebel... Always challenging the status quo,” colleague Sigurjon Sighvatsson said.[13]

Known for his meticulous eye for detail and perfectionist qualities, when casting actors, Fincher performs thorough research to ensure their suitability for the part. "He's really good at finding the one detail that was missed. He knows more than anybody", said colleague Max Daly. "He's just scary smart, sort of smarter than everyone else in the room", said producer Laura Ziskin. In addition, the director approaches editing like "intricate mathematical problems". Zodiac editor, Angus Wall, said it was like "putting together a Swiss watch... All the pieces are so beautifully machined. He's incredibly specific. He never settles. And there's a purity that shows in his work."[97]

When working with actors, Fincher demands a grueling retake after retake to capture a scene perfectly.[78][99] For instance, the Zodiac cast-members were required to do an upward of seventy takes for certain scenes, much to the displeasure of Jake Gyllenhaal.[49] Rooney Mara had to endure ninety-nine takes for a scene in The Social Network; she says that the director enjoys challenging people.[13][100] Gone Girl averaged fifty takes per scene. In one of the episodes for Mindhunter, it was reported that a nine minute scene took eleven hours to shoot.[101] When asked about this method, Fincher said "I hate earnestness in performance… usually by Take 17 the earnestness is gone", adding that he wants a scene to be as natural and authentic as possible. Some actors appreciate this approach, arguing that the subtle adjustments have a big difference in the way a scene is carried. Others have been critical however, "[Fincher] wants puppets. He doesn't want actors that are creative", said R. Lee Ermey.[102][97]

He prefers shooting with Red digital cameras on Super 35 film, under natural or pre-existing light conditions rather than using light setups.[103][104][105] Fincher is also known to use computer-generated imagery, which are mostly unnoticeable to the viewer.[106] He does not normally use hand-held cameras during filming, preferring cameras on a tripod. Fincher said, "Handheld has a powerful psychological stranglehold. It means something specific and I don’t want to cloud what’s going on with too much meaning." He has also experimented with the disembodied camera movement, notably in Panic Room, where the camera glides around the house to give the impression of surveillance by an unseen observer.[95]

Style and themes[edit]

One element of Fincher's visual style is the specific way in which he uses tilt, pan and track in the camera movements. When a character is in motion or expressing physical emotion, the camera moves at the exact same speed and direction as their body. The movements are choreographed precisely between the actors and camera operators. The resulting effect helps the audience connect with the character to understand their feelings.[107][108] Similarly, in his music videos, Fincher understood that the visuals should enhance the listening experience. He would cut around the vocals, and let the choreography finish before cutting the shot. Camera movements are also in-sync and match to the beat of the music.[109] He also favors the use of wide-angle shots to showcase a character's environment.[110]

Some regard Fincher as an auteur filmmaker, although he dislikes being associated with that term.[92] Much of his work is influenced by classical film noir and neo noir genres,[111][112] and involve a non-linear narrative, with a number of storytelling techniques such as backstories, flashbacks, foreshadowing and narrators.[110] Fincher's visual style also includes using monochromatic and desaturated colors of blue, green and yellow, representing the world that the characters are in. In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher uses heavy desaturation for certain scenes, and increases or decreases the desaturation based on the story or characters emotions.[113] Erik Messerschmidt, cinematographer for Mindhunter explains the color palette: "The show has a desaturated green-yellow look... [it] helps give the show its period feel". Messerschmidt states the effect is achieved through production design, costumes and filming locations—not necessarily through lighting used on set. Fincher also favors detailed and pronounced shadows, as well as using minimal light.[114][115] When asked about his use of dim lighting, he suggests bright lights make the colour of skin appear unnatural. "That’s the way the world looks to me", he said.[96]

Fincher has explored themes of martyrdom, alienation and dehumanization of modern culture.[116] In addition to the wider themes of good and evil, his characters are often troubled, discontented and flawed, unable to socialize and suffer from loneliness.[117][118] In Seven, Zodiac and The Social Network, themes of pressure and obsession are explored, leading to the character's downfall. The writer, Piers McCarthy, argues "that the protagonists of these films are not totally in control of their actions but are subject to darker, inner impulses", as quoted from a book by Frank Krutnik.[119] In a 2017 interview, Fincher explained his fascination of sinister themes: "There was always a house in any neighborhood that I ever lived in that all the kids on the street wondered, “What are those people up to?” We sort of attach the sinister to the mundane in order to make things interesting... I think it’s also because in order for something to be evil, it almost has to cloak itself as something else."[120] Fincher once stated, "I think people are perverts. I've maintained that. That's the foundation of my career."[99]


Over the course of his career, the director has displayed a sense of loyalty to his performers and production crew. As a music video director, he collaborated with Paula Abdul five times, and Madonna and Rick Springfield four times each. Once he made the transition to feature films, he cast Brad Pitt in three of them. "On-screen and off-screen, Brad's the ultimate guy... He has such a great ease with who he is", Fincher remarked.[98] Bob Stephenson, Christopher John Fields, Jared Leto and Richmond Arquette have also appeared in at least two of his films.[121]

Fight Club was scored by The Dust Brothers, who at that point had never scored for a film. Describing their working relationship with Fincher, they said he "was not hanging over our shoulders telling us what to do"; the only direction he gave was to make the music sound as great as the score from The Graduate (1967).[122] Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composed the music for The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl. The musicians describe their working relationship as "collaborative, respectful and inspiring" although it "hasn't gotten any easier".[123] Howard Shore composed the scores for three films[124]; Seven, The Game and Panic Room.

Darius Khondji and Jeff Cronenweth have served as cinematographers for Fincher's films. Khondji said, "Fincher deserves a lot of credit. It was his influence that pushed me to experiment and got me as far as I did".[94] The director has hired sound designer Ren Kylce in all his films since 1995, whom Fincher trusts "implicitly".[125] Fincher has also worked with film editor Angus Wall since 1988, who has edited six of his films.[126] Donald Graham Burt has served as a production designer for five films.[127] Casting director Laray Mayfield has worked with Fincher for more than thirty years.[128] In a 2010 interview, Fincher said, "you don’t have to love all of your co-collaborators, but you do have to respect them. And when you do, when you realize that people bring stuff to the table that’s not necessarily your experience, but if you allow yourself to relate to it, it can enrich the buffet that you’re going to bring with you into the editing room."[96]

Personal life[edit]

Fincher married model and photographer Donya Fiorentino in 1990 but divorced in 1995.[129] They have one daughter together named Phelix, born in 1994.[130] In 1996, he married producer Ceán Chaffin.[131]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Tim Walker of The Independent praised Fincher's work, stating "His portrayals of the modern psyche have a power and precision that few film-makers can match."[129] In 2003, Fincher was ranked 39th in The Guardian's 40 best directors.[132] In 2012, The Guardian listed him again in their ranking of 23 best film directors in the world, applauding "his ability to sustain tone and tension".[133] In 2016, Zodiac and The Social Network appeared in the BBC's 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century list.[134] In addition to films, Fincher has often been admired for producing some of the most creative music videos.[109][135][136]

Fincher has been nominated twice for Academy Award for Best Director. For The Social Network, he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director and the BAFTA Award for Best Direction. He has also earned three MTV Video Music Awards for Best Direction.




Selected music videos[edit]

Note: For a complete list, see main article.


Critical reception[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Alien3 42% (52 reviews)[137] 59 (20 reviews)[138]
Seven 81% (72 reviews)[139] 65 (22 reviews)[140]
The Game 73% (56 reviews)[141] 61 (19 reviews)[142]
Fight Club 79% (166 reviews)[143] 66 (35 reviews)[144]
Panic Room 75% (185 reviews)[145] 65 (36 reviews)[146]
Zodiac 89% (248 reviews)[147] 78 (40 reviews)[148]
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 71% (246 reviews)[149] 70 (37 reviews)[150]
The Social Network 96% (307 reviews)[151] 95 (42 reviews)[152]
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 86% (237 reviews)[153] 71 (41 reviews)[154]
Gone Girl 87% (342 reviews)[155] 79 (49 reviews)[156]

Box office performance[edit]

Film Studio Release date Box office gross Budget
North America Other territories Worldwide
Alien3 20th Century Fox May 22, 1992 (1992-05-22) $55,473,545 $104,340,953 $159,814,498 $50 million[157]
Seven New Line Cinema September 22, 1995 (1995-09-22) $100,125,643 $227,186,216 $327,311,859 $33 million[158]
The Game PolyGram September 12, 1997 (1997-09-12) $48,323,648 $61,100,000 $109,423,648 $50 million[159]
Fight Club 20th Century Fox October 15, 1999 (1999-10-15) $37,030,102 $63,823,651 $100,853,753 $63 million[37]
Panic Room Columbia March 29, 2002 (2002-03-29) $96,397,334 $100,000,081 $196,397,415 $48 million[46]
Zodiac Paramount / Warner Bros. March 2, 2007 (2007-03-02) $33,080,084 $51,705,830 $84,785,914 $65 million[52]
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button December 25, 2008 (2008-12-25) $127,509,326 $206,422,757 $333,932,083 $150 million[57]
The Social Network Columbia October 1, 2010 (2010-10-01) $96,962,694 $127,957,621 $224,920,315 $40 million[62]
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Columbia / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer December 20, 2011 (2011-12-20) $102,068,888 $130,101,637 $232,617,430 $90 million[160]
Gone Girl 20th Century Fox October 3, 2014 (2014-10-03) $167,238,510 $199,700,000 $366,938,510 $61 million[79]
Total $858,764,264 $1,246,038,476 $2,136,548,250 $650 million


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Further reading[edit]

  • Waxman, Sharon, ed. (2005). Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System. HarperEntertainment.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
National Board of Review
Preceded by
Tim Burton
for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Best Director
for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Succeeded by
Clint Eastwood
for Invictus
National Board of Review
Preceded by
Clint Eastwood
for Invictus
Best Director
for The Social Network

Succeeded by
Martin Scorsese
for Hugo