In what’s becoming the national pastime of seeing executives trip over their own inappropriate behavior, last week was Quentin Tarantino’s turn in the box. He explained his role in Uma Thurman’s unfortunate car crash on the set of “Kill Bill” on a day when no stunt people were on hand, and issued an apology for comments he made on the Howard Stern show in 2003 about Roman Polanski rape victim Samantha Geimer.
Tarantino would like nothing better than to keep his head down and make his next movie (slated for Sony release on August 9, 2019). The question is whether Sony or Paramount — which is developing a “Star Trek” movie off the filmmaker’s pitch — will feel the pressure to pull back on Tarantino.
In the film’s favor: According to Tarantino’s agents at William Morris, DiCaprio is committed to the film and “we’re full steam ahead,” on track to start principal photography in June. And what studio is going to say no to a movie with DiCaprio committed to star? On the other hand: When I contacted Sony seeking comment, the studio would make no official statement on the project’s greenlight status.
Scandals aside, Sony’s Tom Rothman may be feeling some anxiety for the film on general principle. To turn a profit, the big-budget movie would need to gross at least $300 million worldwide to make money. Both “Django Unchained” and “Inglourious Basterds” crossed that threshold.
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However, this film is not a surefire blockbuster. It’s a period piece; Tarantino told me the film is less about Charles Manson and more about the year 1969.
The plot reportedly involves a down-on-his-luck TV actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) looking for a comeback via spaghetti westerns; his stuntman is rumored to be either Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise. But both Polanski and Sharon Tate are (controversially) included in the movie (Margot Robbie is said to be in talks), which has a reported $100 million budget.
Certainly Sony must have considered those factors back in November, when #MeToo was brand new and Tarantino was navigating his move into life after Weinstein as five studios bid on his ninth movie.
Since then, two more Manson projects have surfaced, with Mary Harron directing Matt Smith as the cult leader in “Charlie Says,” and Hilary Duff portraying Sharon Tate, the late Mrs. Roman Polanski who was murdered by the Manson family, in “The Haunting of Sharon Tate.” That one’s directed by horror producer Daniel Farrands (“Amithyville: The Awakening”).
For those of us eager for another Tarantino movie, fingers crossed. Stay tuned.