With on-location filming set to conclude on David Fincher‘s period crime drama "Zodiac," the city of San Francisco is set to bid farewell to a season of hosting some unusually high-profile projects.
Among the highlights of San Francisco’s recent filming boom, "Zodiac" has attracted the most attention for many reasons; in addition to stopping traffic last month in one of the worst traffic-infested cities in America, Fincher’s latest crime-thriller is based on the most notorious, unsolved-to-date crime spree in Bay Area history. The film recounts the story of the Zodiac Killer, who committed as many as 49 murders during the 1960s, taunting both police and the media with cryptic messages and letters through the 1970s. The killer was never apprehended.
This isn’t the first time the Zodiac killings have been adapted for the screen. Previous cinematic incarnations include the made-for-TV "The Limbic Region," an independent adaptation called "The Zodiac," and of course, the Clint Eastwood classic, "Dirty Harry."
For his version, to achieve as much a sense of realism as possible, Fincher chose to shoot on location in many of the Bay Area places where events took place: recreating a 1970s era-San Francisco Chronicle building and even replanting lost trees in Lake Berryessa, where one of the killings took place.
In "Zodiac," Fincher ("Se7en," "Fight Club," "Panic Room") directs an impressive cast that includes Jake Gyllenhaal as San Francisco Chronicle staffer Robert Graysmith (on whose 1976 book the screenplay is based) and Robert Downey Jr. as veteran police reporter Paul Avery, whose investigations prompted threatening notes from the Zodiac Killer himself. Zodiac also stars Mark Ruffalo, Gary Oldman, Chloe Sevigny, Anthony Edwards, Pell James, and Ione Skye. The joint WB-Paramount Pictures feature is slated for release next year.
Not to be forgotten, San Francisco’s other notable visiting productions this season include Columbia Pictures’ "The Pursuit of Happyness," the real-life rags-to-riches story of a Bay Area man living on the street with his infant son, who works his way up within a brokerage film to become a self-made millionaire. "The Pursuit of Happyness" stars Will Smith (who also produces), his real-life son Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton and Dan Castellaneta, and is scheduled for release in December 2006.