By Frankie Taggart
Oscar-winning filmmaker Quentin Tarantino vowed Monday that his leading men Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt would make as iconic a silver screen duo as Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
The 2019 movie “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” will look at the death throes of the old studio system — seen as a pivotal time in show business history — against the gruesome backdrop of the 1960s Manson family murders.
The 55-year-old “Reservoir Dogs” director opened Sony’s presentation at the glitzy annual CinemaCon industry get-together vowing that his hotly anticipated ninth solo feature would be similar in tone to his acclaimed mainstream breakthrough “Pulp Fiction” (1994).
“Sony and myself will be coming to the theaters with the most exciting star dynamic since Paul Newman and Robert Redford,” Tarantino told the crowd of theater operators at Caesar’s Palace.
Newman, who died in 2008, starred alongside 81-year-old Redford in 1973’s “The Sting” but the duo were best known as the titular heart-throb outlaws in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969).
“It’s very hush hush and top secret. But I can tell you that ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ takes place in 1969, at the height of the counterculture, hippie revolution and the height of new Hollywood,” Tarantino added.
DiCaprio, a Los Angeles native, said he was excited to be working with Pitt, and described Tarantino’s screenplay as “one of the most amazing” he’d ever read.
The presentation came as Sony kicked off CinemaCon with an array of stars and never-before-seen footage of its upcoming slate of movies.
Hollywood decamps to the Nevada desert for four days every year for the gathering, where theater operators are offered exclusive previews of the movies they can expect to be showing over the coming year.
– Runaway success –
Sony sparked controversy in 2017 when its movies chief Tom Rothman — who was back this year — came to the stage to present new footage from “Blade Runner 2049.”
“Netflix my ass,” he quipped after wowing the crowd with bleak scenes from the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece.
The internet streamer has found itself in conflict with movie theater operators in the past because its original content goes straight to viewers’ TVs and mobile devices.
“I love movies and I love movies in movie theaters. They are my favorite place in the world,” said Tarantino, who last directed Pitt in “Inglourious Basterds” (2009).
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” — which is due to begin shooting in summer in LA — gets its US release on August 9 next year, the 50th anniversary of actress Sharon Tate’s murder by Manson’s cult devotees.
Sony set the tone for what is expected to be a week of surprises with exclusive footage from numerous blockbusters due to hit theaters over summer and beyond.
Still celebrating the runaway success of 2017 smash hit “Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle,” which made the thick end of $1 billion worldwide, the studio delighted fans with an array of star presenters including Will Ferrell, Michelle Williams, Matthew McConaughey, Gina Rodriguez, Riz Ahmed and Claire Foy.
– ‘Truly iconic’ –
In an action-packed presentation, Sony squeezed in footage from a mix of original material and sequels and spin-offs, including “Sicario: Day Of The Soldado,” “The Equalizer 2,” comedy “Holmes And Watson” and weepy “A Dog’s Way Home.”
Foy — best known as Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s “The Crown” — wowed as the new face of Swedish computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, previously played by Rooney Mara, in footage from “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.”
The 34-year-old British actress said the character, made famous in the original 2009 Scandinavian movie trilogy by Noomi Rapace, was “truly iconic.”
“She’s very much a survivor,” said the actress, who began shooting in Berlin in January with Fede Alvarez (“Don’t Breathe”) directing. The movie hits theaters on November 9.
Sony also unveiled a second teaser for “Spider-Man” spin-off “Venom,” which opens on October 5, showing rather more of the eponymous toothy villain (Tom Hardy) than the much-derided first trailer.
“Being part of this movie is a dream come true. He’s one of my favorite characters as well,” said Hardy, who revealed his excitement over being in a superhero film his son could enjoy.
Disney, STX, Universal, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Warner Bros, Amazon, Entertainment Studios and Focus Features will set out their stalls later in the week.