David Fincher and Brad Pitt Discuss the Public's First Reactions to 'Se7en'

'Se7en'Credit: Sony Pictures
David Fincher and Brad Pitt talk about the premiere of Se7en in New York and the tribulations of Hollywood marketing. 

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.      

Your Comment


Fincher is Ok

May 22, 2021 at 11:24PM, Edited May 22, 11:24PM

Austin Atkins

I can tell you exactly what it was like. It was one of the most unique cinematic experiences of my life. To call it jarring hardly does it justice. When the credits began to roll and the house lights came up, the audience was dead silent. A few moments passed before we heard a man behind us say, "I think I need to go home and watch cartoons."

Yeah, man. Me too.

May 24, 2021 at 11:44AM

David Patrick Raines

I never saw the original cut as described, but I did have the pleasure of watching Se7en without knowing anything about the film beforehand. That was really cool.

Coulda done without the molestation and gang rape analogies from Fincher in that commentary tho. Yeesh

May 28, 2021 at 4:38AM