Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Quentin Tarantino Has a $40 Mil Box Office Record Opening with Oscar Bound “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”


Quentin Tarantino scored an all time box office opening weekend with “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

The Brad Pitt-Leonardo DiCaprio hit took in $40 million beating the 2009 opening of “Inglorious Basterds” with $38 million.

The success of OUTH is all the sweeter because the movie clocks in at two hours, forty minutes. It can’t be shown as often as most films, but people are packing into theaters.

I went last night for a second time, and found so many details I’d missed. The second viewing was certainly worth it, just to absorb the writing, the themes that weave in and out. Tarantino will most definitely receive a number of Oscar nominations. So, too, will DiCaprio and Pitt (lead, supporting?) Margot Robbie will be a Best Supporting Actress nominee as well. Her turn as Sharon Tate is very poignant.

The third level supporting characters are what interested me this time. Al Pacino is terrific as the producer who wants to take Rick Dalton to Italy for spaghetti westerns. (It’s a performance based on everyone we’ve ever met.) Austin Butler– who will soon play Elvis Presley– is terrifying and funny as Tex, the lieutenant of the Manson family.  In his Elvis PR coverage he looks like he’s in a boy band. But in those final scenes in OUTH, you get the sense he’ll be a big name going forward. Timothy Olyphant is also very touching as James Stacy, a TV star from that era who was so talented and wound up getting a very raw deal in real life.

The women are all excellent and so well cast. Margaret Qualley’s hitchhiker is right out Robert Altman’s playbook. Rumer Willis has one scene as Joanna Pettet, and she’s excellent. Ditto Maya Hawke. Dakota Fanning — as I wrote the other day, she’s still only 25 — has matured into a top notch actress. As much as her sister, Elle Fanning, is very talented, Dakota hasn’t been getting as much press lately. But she deserves more attention.

And let us not forget Bruce Dern as George Spahn. This was the role meant for Burt Reynolds before he passed away. Pitt and Dern’s scene together — and the whole sequence at the Spahn Ranch, where in real life Charles Manson’s group did assemble — is the key to the whole movie. It’s where the baton of movie making is passed, the generations shift. So even though this takes place 50 years ago, it’s also the hand off of early filmmaking to what became the contemporary business, the 1970s going forward. Beautiful.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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