David Fincher remembers “disastrous” test screenings of Seven

David Fincher says a producer on Seven also tried to put a dog’s head in the box instead of Gwyneth Paltrow’s.

Last Updated on May 20, 2024

Fincher Seven

It might be one year premature for its 30th anniversary, but David Fincher’s Seven is having a moment. Following the release of the 8K (well, 4K) transfer of the 1995 film, Fincher has left himself no choice but to dig back into the archives – and that includes the test screenings, described by the director as “disastrous.”

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, David Fincher said that Seven tested in the 50s with audiences, a deadly sin in its own right within the movie industry. But Fincher believes that the test audience had been duped, as promotional fliers teased the wrong movies from his stars. “They brought me this little 5-by-7-inch card that said: “Would you like to see a new movie starring Brad Pitt (‘Legends of the Fall’) and Morgan Freeman (‘Driving Miss Daisy’)?” It made no sense to me. You’re not going to market this movie to the people who like Driving Miss Daisy. That’s not a correlative. There’s no connective tissue. There’s no relationship between these experiences, much less the kind of storytelling that we’re asking the audience to immerse themselves in.”

But that wasn’t the only issue that came about ahead of Seven’s eventual September 1995 release, with Fincher noting that one producer had just about the worst idea imaginable to “fix” the film’s most famous scene. “One of the producers who’s no longer alive [Phyllis Carlyle], her big idea was that Brad and Gwyneth Paltrow have these dogs that live in that tiny little room in their apartment. And she was convinced that the thing that would send him into apoplectic, inconsolable sorrow was if the German shepherd — if that was the head in the box. And we were all kind of like: Really?” Right, because audiences love seeing decapitated dogs on the big screen!

After such dreadful screenings and meetings, David Fincher had no idea if Seven would ever finish filming. Remember, this was his follow-up to Alien 3, which was ripped from him and seemed to spell uncertain doom for his filmmaking career. “I came to them after this horrendous screening when we got the notes from the audience that said I wouldn’t recommend this movie to my worst enemy. And it was discussed whether I should continue on with the movie and whether or not we should shoot animal heads or whatever.”

Of course, today, Seven remains one of David Fincher’s masterpieces, one which feels ahead of its time in its bleakness, its twists and, of course, showing just how good of actors the fellas from Legends of the Fall and Driving Miss Daisy were…

Source: Los Angeles Times

About the Author

1919 Articles Published

Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with JoBlo.com periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.