In the midst of a long summer of remakes, sequels, and spinoffs soon comes Quentin Tarantino’s highly-anticipated directorial effort of Hollywood life in 1969, where run-ins with Bruce Lee and the Manson Murders are blended with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s team up as a fictional actor and stuntman. While early numbers had Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at a solid $40 to $60 million debut, box office projections have now dropped.
Now it looks like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood may open closer to the $25 to $30 million range, per Deadline. This is closer in line with the auteur director’s biggest hits such as Inglourious Basterds ($38 million), Django Unchained ($30 million) and Kill Bill Vol. 2 ($25 million). The upcoming drama still has a potential to turn a big profit off its theater run. Django went on to make $425 million worldwide after a comparable first weekend.
The film has already garnered high praise from critics who were present at its premiere at Cannes. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood currently has an impressively fresh 92% on Rotten Tomatoes with 65 reviews filed. Tarantino has also teased it's the closest he’s gotten to Pulp Fiction and his personal love letter to Los Angeles.
The director has long said he’d only direct 10 films, so there’s additional anticipation for how the backend of his work will play out. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is his ninth film. It also includes some major stars, with Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate joining Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Timothy Olyphant, Damian Lewis, and the late Luke Perry.
The fact that the movie is not only rated-R but 2 hours and 39 minutes (and Tarantino may make it longer) could be a drawback to the film hitting numbers higher than $30 million. The Lion King remake is also hitting theaters one week prior and it has massive projections as high as $230 million for its debut. It will likely stay at No. 1 during its second weekend, putting Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at second place.
Tarantino’s drama is actually sandwiched by two huge summer blockbusters. Fast and the Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw opens the following week. Can it contend with more traditional summer blockbusters? Perhaps moviegoers hunger for original and surprising storylines will buff up its earnings?
Interestingly enough, Pitt and DiCaprio starred in Tarantino’s top earning projects so perhaps the combination of the both of them will prove successful as well. Inglourious Basterds debuted in August 2009 and went on to hit $321 million worldwide. Django cleverly came out during awards season and has since been his highest grossing film.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood comes out on July 26.