Some films just aren’t appreciated straight away. Much like a fine wine, they often have to sit for a while before they eventually become treasured. This is definitely true for the hyper-masculine Fight Club, which stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.
Despite it being somewhat iconic nowadays, at the time of its release it wasn’t well received, doing pretty poorly at the box office. Its bleak aesthetic and the way it holds a mirror up to society probably accounts for some of that. Not to mention it was also just ahead of its time.
In a recent interview on WTF Pod, Pitt sat down and reminisced about the pic’s world premiere. He recalled sitting in his seat with Norton, bewildered as to why no one else in the theatre were laughing at the obvious jokes. It was “just crickets” and “dead silence,” said the actor.
“First joke comes up and it’s just crickets. It’s dead silence. And another joke and it’s just dead silence. This thing is not translating. Subtitles, it is NOT translating at all. The more that happened, the funnier it got to Edward [Norton] and I and we just start laughing. So, we’re the assholes in the back laughing at our own jokes. The only ones.”
Both actors apparently found it funny though (getting high beforehand may have helped) that other audience members just didn’t seem to get it. One person even got up and left after Helena Bonham Carter’s infamous “grade school” line. At that point, it was evident to Pitt and Norton that Fight Club was just not something that was clicking with moviegoers.
And then at some point it gets to the Helena Bonham Carter’s line where she says, ‘I haven’t been f**ked like that since grade school.’ And I watched the festival guy who had been squirming the whole 30 minutes just get up and he leaves! He doesn’t say a word.
When it was released in 1999, Fight Club was one of the most controversial films around, thanks largely to its dark themes, black humour at the expense of masculinity and capitalism and its violence. Also, many people were still unimpressed with director David Fincher’s work on Alien 3.
Those in the audience missed out on something, though, as Fight Club is now revered as something of a classic and beloved by millions around the world. Even those who didn’t really get it upon its theatrical run.