I cannot imagine seeing Se7en for the first time and knowing nothing about it. By the time I had rented it at Blockbuster, almost all the big twists were spoiled for me by the Internet and friends.
But imagine that first audience ever... well, you don't have to think that hard, because, in the director's commentary, Fincher and Pitt tell us what it was like showing the public the movie for the very first time.
Take a listen, and let's talk after.
As you know, in Hollywood, we test movies with audiences to see their reactions. And Se7en was no different. The studio will pack a bunch of people into a theater, lower the lights, and let the movie play.
Now, this was the first cut, where the movie ends when Pitt's character shoots John Doe, and we just cut to black. Really bleak. So they're in New York with the preview screening and after the gunshot, the lights come up.
People are stunned. And a woman immediately reacts and says, "The people who made that movie should be killed."
Pitt and Fincher say this was probably because the test audience was brought in by advertising: "A new movie from the stars of Legends of the Fall and Driving Miss Daisy."
While this was technically true, it primed the audience for something they were not prepared to see.
The most interesting part of this clip for me was Fincher and Pitt's conversation about battling with marketing departments. They talk about how marketing lies all the time and how much Pitt and Fincher always rally against them. Fincher thinks marketing is obsessed with the desire to save the movie. He thinks it's antithetical to marketing to say, "That's great," because if the movie fails, the studio will blame the marketing department.
There's too much money on the line because they are never risky with what they're selling.
In any event, this conversation really opened my eyes to how Hollywood sells a film.
Let me know what you think in the comments.