Back in 2014, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino dropped a bombshell of an announcement regarding his career in the motion picture industry. He had declared that he has set out to personally direct only ten movies during his time in Hollywood and that he will retire after finishing the tenth. Perhaps that might have, in its own way, helped contribute to the interest that has begun to gather for what should be his penultimate directing job, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” for Sony Pictures which premiered last week in the US. With “ninth movie by Tarantino” as part of its promotion, it is no wonder that the opening weekend was big.
USA Today tells us that Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” made $40 million on its July 26 premiere going into the weekend. By itself it seems no big deal box office-wise, seeing as the amount is lesser than Disney’s “The Lion King” remake over the same period (it premiered two weeks ago). But when one takes into account the R-rating and adult-oriented storyline then the gross is pretty good. “Hollywood” had in fact broken Tarantino’s last opening-weekend earnings for “Inglorious Basterds” from 2009, if by $2 million.
Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian noted that in a survey they made of audiences going to watch “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” 40% of the respondents noted they went to watch the movie because Tarantino had directed it. Such a response lends credence to the idea that fans will flock more to the 56-year-old filmmaker as anticipation for his last and declared final film project draws ever nearer. “That’s incredible,” says Dergarabedian. “You almost never see that. Sony did a great job of putting that cast and certainly Tarantino at the front of the marketing. That collective star power just paid huge dividends.”
The film takes place in 1969 Hollywood, where the old veneer from the earlier ages of cinema was starting to fade away, as seen through the eyes of a fading Western actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double friend (Brad Pitt). Their misadventures lead them to meet actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and cross paths with a quirky but sinister “family” cult led by one Charles Manson. Quentin Tarantino’s signature style brings this part-satire and part-love letter to retro Hollywood to a level that would guarantee a strong box office.
Of course, this achievement by Tarantino and his “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is still dwarfed by the top weekend grosser, the 2-week-old “Lion King” photorealistic remake of the 1994 original animated classic from Disney. The weekend take was at $75 million, added to its existing $350 million on the domestic North American market.
Image from Variety