Following a no doubt bloody behind-the-scenes battle (by Hollywood executive standards) in the wake of Quentin Tarantino’s break from The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures has pipped Warner Bros. and Paramount to the rights to the director’s as-yet-untitled Manson Family Murders / 1969 project. With an estimated budget of around $100M – matched only by Django Unchained – and Tarantino guaranteed final cut, it appears Sony is willing to go all in on such sordid subject matter translating to box office success.
Though information on the project remains limited, fans will be intrigued to see what Tarantino has planned for his ninth and – if his plans to retire are true – penultimate film. Early indications from the man himself suggest Charles Manson – who coincidentally died Sunday evening at age 83 – his infamous Family, and their victims, including actress Sharon Tate, will be part of a broader exploration of 1969 Los Angeles, rather than the primary focus. According to an inside source, a TV actor’s quest to enter the movie business will spearhead the core plot.
This points to a probable reappearance of Tarantino’s traditional multi-thread and non-linear formats, though whether the content itself will focus on the biographical (unlikely) or branch out into the fantastic à la Inglourious Basterds (far more likely) remains to be seen. Either way, the project is a welcome departure from the highly stylised pre-1950 period pieces that have defined Tarantino’s output since 2009. The sixties themselves are new territory for the director, and certainly make for an interesting choice given the era’s colourfully unique look, feel and sound.
As always, links to Tarantino’s previous works are likely to be forged in casting. Samuel L. Jackson playing a part is a given – this will be the duo’s seventh collaboration – while either Leonardo DiCaprio (Django) or Brad Pitt (Basterds) could return also. Margot Robbie (starring as Tate) is all but confirmed to be the first newcomer, with Tom Cruise apparently in talks to join her. The calibre of such an addition, and the chance to see Cruise directed by Tarantino are both incredibly appealing, and will no doubt fire the already high levels of fanboy excitement straight into the cinematic stratosphere.
Earmarked for a 2019 release, the Manson Family project brings us ever closer to the scheduled end of Tarantino’s directorial career. His next film will be his tenth and, according to him, his last. Indeed, he may even have his eye on a potential 2022 release date, which would coincide nicely with the 30th anniversary of his debut feature, Reservoir Dogs. So, what does Tarantino have planned for his big finale? As of now your guess is as good as mine, but as it is his swansong one can only hope he opts for something original in lieu of previously mooted projects, such as Kill Bill Vol. 3 or a remake of the 1966 kung fu classic, Come Drink with Me.
A classic Tarantino-style talkathon set against the modern digital and technological backdrop he so often denounces would be a fine way to finish, but given his penchant for paying homage to whatever brings him cinematic joy, it is difficult to imagine him straying too far from subjects he knows and loves. Whatever it is, I can safely say I’ll be there to see it, front row centre.
What’s your favourite Quentin Tarantino film? Are you excited about his latest? Let us know.