Do I Really Have to Defend My Tarantino Post?

My last blog post seems to have set off a firestorm of controversy.

Last Updated: August 31, 2009 @ 11:29 PM

My blog post last Friday on Quentin Tarantino, The Weinstein Company and “Inglourious Basterds” seems to have set off a firestorm of controversy.

 

I’ve never responded to a reader (or readers) before — heck, in 30-some years with Newsweek, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, I’ve never even read a “letter to the editor.” After all, why should I? What could you, back in Omaha (who got your knowledge of the industry from “Entertainment Tonight”!) know that I, who’s spent 25 years in the film business, don’t?

 

Rather, I saw my job as nobly trying to explain how the business actually works.

 

Fool.

 

It’s kind of like T.J. Simers, the sports columnist for the L.A. Times, who’s usually writing some controversial column — rather than defend himself, Simers started a monthly column called “These People Live Among You,” in which he simply published the hate mail he got for telling the truth and then letting the writers swing in the wind.

 

Given the tone of the respondents, I thought the same thing might work for those who reacted to the “Is This a Wrap for Tarantino?” column (below).

 

1) I really liked the one by “Trey”: “This guy [me] is a real douchbag reviewer.”

 

I am not nor ever have been nor wish to be a reviewer. Just the facts, ma’am. 

2) I also liked the one from “Ma”: “He [me, again] doesn’t count the foreign grosses. What, did the Weinsteins do, just give them away?”

 

Yes, to Universal.

As for my laughed-at “prediction” that it would drop the typical 50% or so after the first weekend that any action film does, well, it turns out I was right.

 

As of Monday morning, The Weinsteins were admitting it has dropped 47% to almost the $19 million I predicted (and their numbers are always suspect!) And “Final Destination” beat it by 50%, as I also wrote. So I think I’ll stick to my predictions and, if I were you, “Ma,” I’d avoid Vegas.

(That’s why, if anyone checked the internet before writing you might have learned that the Weinsteins are so broke that they had to dump another movie on top of Quentin’s, Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II.” Which garnered more than $17 million and nearly beat Quentin all by himself. How do you think that makes Quentin feel?)

 

3) From “Sterling Goldberg”…

 

Hey, I’m not going to argue with you the genesis of “Basterds” (a 1978 Italian movie remake). I’m just going with what Quentin’s said — though I have read a multitude of books that say he ripped “Reservoir Dogs” from a Hong Kong movie. You can get them at your library.

 

You do read? Because you clearly didn’t read my story, which gave Quentin credit for the “Kill Bill” series — or were you too busy frothing at the mouth to focus?

 

The sad truth, “Sterling,” is if you just check out Box Office Mojo you’ll see that all Quentin’s movies combined (including “Pulp Fiction”) have averaged only $50 million at the box office.

 

Leave “Pulp” out and it’s more like $25 million. I feel like I’m explaining it to kindergartners, but at best, 50% of that comes back to the distributor which doesn’t cover their marketing costs. (Just check with the MPAA — oh, forget it, you wouldn’t know what I was talking about!)

 

Thus the distributors are dependent, as you point out, “Sterling,” upon home video.

 

But you weren’t aware, were you, that before you wrote your cute little screed about how much Miramax made in home video on “Dogs” (it’s important do your homework before e-mailing!)

 

The answer: Nothing!. Miramax, didn’t have those rights! The video/DVD/ etc. rights were owned by a company called Live Entertainment (now Lionsgate), who made a fortune. All Miramax bought were box-office rights.

4) “Rene Le’Levier” — didn’t like my “Naked Movie” (though he claims it’s not on DVD or TV so I don’t know how he saw it?)

 

Actually, since we spent only $12,000 on it and were still able to attract the likes of Tori Spelling (who’s terrific), Carmen Electra, Christian Slater (who starred in Quentin’s “True Romance”) and rediscovered the late David Carradine (who Quentin subsequently hired for “Kill Bill”), I appreciate your mentioning it. “Naked Movie,” that is, which despite what you think, is out on DVD (in a new director’s cut) and available from Netflix and last month was on HBO On Demand.

 

I know a little about casting. In fact, if you checked beyond IMDb, you’d see that I spent years as a VP at Disney where, among other things, I helped oversee "Cocktail” starring Tom Cruise and then spent four-years with two-time Academy Award-winner Michael Douglas, where we made a couple more little movies like “Flatliners,” starring Julia Roberts (the most profitable picture in a decade for Columbia Pictures), and “Radio Flyer.”

 

I’ve had two pictures selected for Sundance, one at Toronto and, two years ago, in conjunction with the BBC, finished “Screamers,” featuring the #1 hard rock band in the world, System of a Down, which not only won the American Film Institute festival and raves around the world but for which Sir Elton John hosted our London premier. (It’s now out on Sony.)

So I don’t think there’s any jealousy here — remember, I was one of the first to acclaim Tarantino as the best new American director in that 1992 New York Times article.

 

I hadn’t quite realized, however, that so many of TheWrap’s readers were mouth breathers who carried weapons to Presidential town halls and believed in Sarah Palin’s “Death Panels.”

 

Now that I do, just remember, these people live among us.

Peter McAlevey is a motion-picture producer and former correspondent for Newsweek. His latest movie is "Kill Her, Not Me