For all his prolific filmmaking, director Quentin Tarantino has never officially published a work of written fiction. But that will no longer be true once Tarantino releases the novelization of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood he’s working on in the summer of 2021. The iconic filmmaker has signed a two book deal with HarperCollins imprint Harper, to deliver both the OUATIH novelization and a follow-up book on 1970s filmmaking, entitled Cinema Speculation.
Film novelizations have always been a corner of the literary world that is fascinating but somewhat ill regarded, seeing as those novels explore the difficult task of taking a familiar film story and stretching it out with additional context and detail, possibly marring the film in the process. Many notable blockbusters have had novelizations, including the original Star Wars trilogy. Tarantino, meanwhile, states that he grew up reading these sorts of novelizations, and always dreamed of writing one himself.
“In the seventies movie novelizations were the first adult books I grew up reading,” said Tarantino in a statement quoted by Deadline. “And to this day I have a tremendous amount of affection for the genre. So as a movie-novelization aficionado, I’m proud to announce Once Upon A Time In Hollywood my contribution to this often marginalized, yet beloved sub-genre in literature. I’m also thrilled to further explore my characters and their world in a literary endeavor that can (hopefully) sit alongside its cinematic counterpart.”
The novelization will of course tackle the story of faded western actor Rick Dalton (played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor) as they grapple with their careers and lives in the summer of 1969 in Hollywood, against the backdrop of the Manson family murders. It will also apparently explore more of the Italian spaghetti western era of Dalton’s career, and will fittingly be published as a Harper Perennial mass market paperback in the summer, before a more expensive deluxe hardcover edition arrives in the fall of 2021.
The second book in Tarantino’s deal, meanwhile, will be a nonfiction work titled Cinema Speculation, which will see the director diving deep into some of his favorite inspirations from the 1970s. The publisher describes that tome as a “deep dive into the movies of the 1970’s, a rich mix of essays, reviews, personal writing, and tantalizing ‘what if’s’ from one of cinema’s most celebrated filmmakers, and its most devoted fan.”
We’ll bring you more information on both projects as it arrives.