Following Quentin Tarantino‘s swan song to Old Hollywood, the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood director is declaring war on the blockbusters that rule New Hollywood. Tarantino is throwing his support behind Martin Scorsese’s ongoing criticism of Marvel films and their domination of the pop culture landscape, suggesting in a new interview that there is a “war for movies” taking place between “original” filmmaking and the “commercial product” owned by conglomerates.
In an interview with Deadline, Tarantino expressed his displeasure with the dominance of “blockbuster IP” films over the pop culture landscape. Both the box office and the cultural conversations have been overtaken by superhero films and franchise films in the past few years, “whether it be the Marvel Comics, the Star Wars, Godzilla and James Bond,” Tarantino said. As a result, Tarantino lamented, “a lot of original movie [content] came out and demanded to be seen, and demanded to be seen at the theatres,” and didn’t get the chance:
“As far as I can see, the commercial product that is owned by the conglomerates, the projects everybody knows about and has in their DNA, whether it be the Marvel Comics, the Star Wars, Godzilla and James Bond, those films never had a better year than last year. It would have been the year that their world domination would have been complete. But it kind of wasn’t. Because of what you said, a lot of original movie comment came out and demanded to be seen, and demanded to be seen at the theaters. That ended up becoming a really, really strong year. I’m really proud to be nominated with the other films that just got nominated. I think when you sum up the year, it’s cinema that doesn’t fall into that blockbuster IP proof status, made its last stand this year.”
Although Tarantino didn’t mention his 10-time Oscar nominated film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the director added that he was “really proud to be nominated with the other films” that don’t “fall into that blockbuster IP” category. He expressed hope that 2019 was one of the strongest years for original films, and could present the “last stand” in the war between auteur-driven films and blockbuster films:
“This is a really groovy year. To combat something like Avengers: Endgame, which for the month before it came out and the month after, you couldn’t talk about anything else. They tried to do that with this last Star Wars and I don’t think it quite worked, but you couldn’t get on United Airlines without running into all the tie-ins, and even the safety commercial had a Star Wars scene.”
Tarantino is just the latest filmmaker to make the same criticisms as Scorsese against the dominance of superhero and franchise films, thus limiting the theatrical chances for smaller, original films. Like Scorsese, Tarantino expressed his commitment to theatrically-released movies and summarized a conversation he had with Sony Pictures chair Tom Rothman, paraphrasing the executive: “If this movie [Once Upon a Time in Hollywood] is a hit, we will show people they need to go to the movie theatre to see it. There will be an interest in it, and it’s going to come out, and people are going to leave their houses to see it. That’s how the industry will judge whether or not it’s a success.”
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