The Fan (1996 film)

The Fan

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tony Scott
Produced by Wendy Finerman
Screenplay by Phoef Sutton
Based on The Fan by Peter Abrahams
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Dariusz Wolski
Edited by Claire Simpson
Christian Wagner
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
August 16, 1996 (USA)
Running time
116 minutes
Language English
Budget $55 million[1]
Box office $18,626,419 (domestic gross)

The Fan is a 1996 American sports thriller film directed by Tony Scott, and starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Peter Abrahams. The Fan is a psychological thriller that revolves around the sport of baseball, exploring the overt dedication of some of its followers.


Gil "Curly" Renard (Robert De Niro), a knife salesman, is a mentally unstable temperamental divorcé who has been neglecting both his young son and his job, which he is on the verge of losing due to poor sales. Gil has a fervent loyalty to his favorite sport, baseball, and his favorite team, the San Francisco Giants. Gil is obsessed with the Giants' newest player, San Francisco native Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes), who has recently been acquired from the Atlanta Braves. He risks his job by attending the opening game of the season while he should be meeting a client. In an attempt to bond with his son, Gil takes him to the game, but leaves him there to attend his sales meeting.

The extensively hyped Rayburn suffers a chest injury, causing his performance to decline. Fans criticize his inability to live up to their expectations. The frustrated Gil, who has finally been fired after he has threatened one of his would-be customers, begins to aggressively show his support, showing his anger to fans who jeer Rayburn. Gil's ex-wife, Ellen (Patti D'Arbanville), is disgusted by his irresponsibility and tries to keep him from seeing their son. Gil is issued a restraining order. With his job and family lost, Gil angrily confronts his former boss and vandalizes his car with a knife, leaving it in the hood. Gil once again turns to baseball, the only thing he seems to have left.

Gil witnesses Rayburn fighting with teammate Juan Primo (Benicio del Toro) in the restroom of a bar, and blames Primo for his favorite player's slump. Gil confronts Primo in a hotel sauna and, provoked by Primo's dismissive attitude, stabs him to death. Rayburn is subsequently suspected of murdering Primo. Despite feeling guilty for his teammate's death, Rayburn starts playing well again and ends his slump. Gil, convinced that what he did was a service to Rayburn and the Giants, becomes even more personal with his fanaticism, especially when Rayburn doesn't thank his fans for supporting him. He goes to Rayburn's beach house and unexpectedly helps save the player's son from drowning.

After pretending to have only a passing interest in the sport, Gil persuades Rayburn to play a friendly game of catch on the beach. Rayburn says he stopped caring about the game after Primo's death, because he felt there were more important things in life. He makes the mistake of telling Gil that he has lost respect for the fans, remarking on their fickle nature when he's playing, they love him, but when he's not, they hate him. Gil's temper rises as he almost hits Rayburn with a fast ball and launches into a diatribe. Rayburn is slightly disturbed, especially when Gil takes off his jacket to reveal Rayburn's jersey underneath and wonders if Rayburn is happy that Primo's not around.

Rayburn discovers to his horror that Gil has kidnapped his son Sean and has fled in his Hummer, as well as finding a piece of Primo's branded shoulder in his freezer. Disillusioned with Rayburn's disrespect towards the fans, Gil spirals further into insanity. He acts as though Sean is his own son. He drives to see an old friend, Coop (Charles Hallahan), a catcher that Gil spoke often of playing baseball with in his past. Coop tries to help Sean escape, and reveals that the only time he and Gil ever played together was in Little League. Gil then beats Coop to death with a baseball bat and takes Sean to a baseball field, hiding him there. He contacts Rayburn to make one demand: hit a home run in the upcoming game and dedicate it to Gil, or he will kill his son. With the police on high alert, Gil enters Candlestick Park in the midst of an on-and-off thunderstorm. Rayburn struggles with his emotions while at bat. After several pitches, he finally hits the ball deep into the outfield but not over the fence. Rayburn attempts to score an inside-the-park home run. He is called out, even though he is obviously safe. Rayburn argues with the umpire, who turns out to be Gil in disguise.

Rayburn knocks Gil to the ground. Dozens of cops swarm onto the field and confront Gil. Before the cops arrive, Gil kills another player, Lanz (John Kruk), who tries to tackle him. Despite warnings from the police, Gil goes into an exaggerated pitching motion with a knife in hand. He asks Rayburn if he cares about baseball, but realizes he cares "just a little bit." Gil is shot dead as he is about to throw the knife. Police discover Sean at the Little League baseball field where Gil played as a child. They uncover his obsession with Rayburn, as hundreds of newspaper clippings adorn the deranged fan's hideout. A picture on the wall shows Gil in his past glory, playing Little League Baseball and winning a game.



The Fan got mixed to negative reviews from critics, as it holds a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 27 reviews.[2]

Box office

The film brought in $18,626,419 in the United States and Canada. The opening weekend brought in $6,271,406 and then dropped down a 47.2%.[3]

See also


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