Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film hit theaters over the weekend and the reviews from both fans and critics are largely positive. It’s a little divisive in that nature because there are a lot of people who don’t like Tarantino because of his controversial films.
For instance, he frequently uses the “N-word” constantly, objectifies women constantly, the violence in his movies are over-the-top and he clearly has a foot fetish.
But although it couldn’t dethrone “The Lion King,” “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” crushed it at the box office and here’s why that’s a little ironic.
Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio finally teamed up for “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” but when you consider their celebrity status and power as being at the tippy-top of the industry, it doesn’t seem all that strange.
In fact, Pitt and DiCaprio almost teamed up when “Good Will Hunting” was floating around the industry in the mid 1990s. Behind-the-scenes, their paths cross all the time. DiCaprio’s Appian Way production company and Pitt’s Plan B frequently do business with each other.
Finally, they got around to playing best friends in “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” and it was not even close to disappointing.
Pitt and DiCaprio make obscene amounts of money on their respective movies because the market demands it. DiCaprio reportedly only took $15 million (a $5 million pay cut) for “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” but he could end up making close to $50 million when it’s all said and done.
“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” couldn’t upend “The Lion King” at the box office over the weekend because, well, Disney movies are king in Hollywood.
Tarantino’s ninth feature film opened north of the projected estimates at $40.4 million in its first weekend in North America. Regardless of Pitt and DiCaprio’s star power, a 3-hour period piece doesn’t generally make that kind of money and it hasn’t even opened overseas yet.
The backdrop for “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” is set against the end of the Golden Era in 1969 Hollywood. When the Charlie Manson murders occurred in August 1969, the hippie era ended immediately.
Hollywood moved away from Westerns and a new generation of filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma and a slew of other filmmakers began taking over. In the 1970s, movies got darker, more serious and more dramatic.
Right now in Hollywood, we’re in the big-budget superhero, hugely CGI and animation era. Those are always the biggest movies every single year since around 2002 when Spider-Man first hit theaters. “Avengers: Endgame,” “Captain Marvel,” “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4” and “Aladdin” are all the top grossing movies of 2019 so far.
The reason why it’s ironic that “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” made the amount of money it did is because that was a huge message in the film. People want originality again instead of the same sequels, reboots and remakes. They make money still, sure, but there’s not a whole lot of choice because studios are scared to make movies like “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.”
But hopefully the financial success of “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” will start to change studio executives’ minds because that movie was a refreshing change of pace from the superhero/animation genres.