Fight Club celebrated its 20th anniversary on Oct. 15, and since then the David Fincher-directed film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel has held onto its status as a cult classic. The film was originally a box office disappointment, but one famous person — Rosie O'Donnell — did see it, and spoiled the big twist on her daytime talk show. Star Brad Pitt was horrified, admitting on the 2000 DVD commentary it was "unforgivable."
"I guess that is OK she hated it. She was saying this movie disturbed [her], she could not sleep for nights," Pitt said of O'Donnell, notes The Hollywood Reporter. "It hit a nerve. It struck some nerve whether she wanted to look at it or not. But the deal was, she gave away the ending on national television. That's just unforgivable."
Pitt was not the only person involved in Fight Club horrified to hear O'Donnell spill the beans on one of the great twist endings. Holt McCallany, who now stars in the Fincher-produced Mindhunter, saw the episode of O'Donnell's show at a doctor's office.
"I just remember being absolutely flabbergasted — it was stunning to me," McCallany told THR. "I remember being infuriated by her remarks and wondering why she felt the need to do that."
O'Donnell saw Fight Club before anyone in her audience had the chance. She attended one of 20th Century Fox's early screenings and hated it so much she wanted to stop her audience from even seeing it.
"I had met her once or twice in New York City at events, and I had no reason to dislike her, but when you start to willfully damage the commercial prospects of the work of other artists, you have to expect that that is going to inspire a very dim view," McCallany said.
Bill Mechanic, who greenlighted Fight Club during his tenure at Fox, told THR he did not believe O'Donnell was responsible for the film's disappointing box office totals. Although Fight Club crossed the $100 million mark worldwide, it was considered a disappointment at the time for a movie starring Pitt and Edward Norton.
"Two things: It was [made for] a younger demographic, so [O'Donnell] going to the housewives during the day on that movie couldn’t have mattered less," Mechanic explained. "And the second thing: The movie didn’t depend on the surprise ending. The movie stood on its own. Getting the audience to go see the movie was a different thing."
"We had a number of commentators, not film critics … who were openly antagonistic, despairing, trying to shoot down the movie before it opened," Mechanic continued.
Fight Club went on to find its audience anyway, thanks to its revolutionary home video release in 2000. Fincher was heavily involved in the film's original DVD release, overseeing a two-disc edition that was stacked with extras and multiple commentary tracks. Even the unique packaging was part of Fincher's plan for the release.
The movie still inspires debate, 20 years after its release, proving its staying power.0comments
"We were making a satire," Fincher told Brian Raftery in the book Best. Movie. Ever. "We were saying 'This is as serious about blowing up buildings as The Graduate is about f– your mom’s friend.'"
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox