Edward Norton Explains Why Fight Club Failed at the Box Office

In the two decades since it was released, Fight Club has developed a passionate following, despite its initial box office haul being disappointing, which star Edward Norton credits to its difficult marketing campaign. The actor notes that the promotional materials for the film leaned into its violence and more action-oriented sequences, which overlooked its dark comedy and satirical nature. Luckily, the film landed on home video at a time when DVD began to dominate the market, with Fight Club's DVD coming with an abundance of special features, allowing the film to eventually find its audience and be considered a defining film of its generation.

“I think there was a reluctance on the part of some of the people who were actually marketing it, to embrace the idea that it was funny, and honestly I think they felt indicted by it,” Norton shared with PeopleTV. “I think if you felt more like the guy who plays my boss in the film, then you tended to not like the film. But also, it just was a tough one to distill.”

Based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, the film lambasted a variety of topics, from toxic masculinity to capitalism to reality TV and everything in between. Also starring Brad Pitt, it's likely that some audiences were merely hoping for an action film starring some of the year's biggest stars.

Despite those initial disappointments that the film wasn't a major financial success, Norton ultimately appreciates the relationships he developed with Pitt and director David Fincher.

“It was an interesting experience because we all loved it and we were very confident about it. We were a little stung,” the actor pointed out. “You can never completely detach your ego to how does it do when it first opens, but then we all had the very special experience of realizing that the relationship it formed with people was everything you dream of when you get into films.”

According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has earned 79% positive reviews while earning $101.2 million worldwide.


“It wasn’t financially successful at first, it never was even in conversation about awards and all that crap,” the actor admitted. When interviewer Lola Ogunnaike pointed out that the film helped "define a generation," Norton confirmed, "[Not initially] but it became that, and that’s better.”

What do you think of Norton's take on the film's growing legacy? Let us know in the comments below!