Quentin Tarantino Dives Back into Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with Novelization and Two-Book Deal

Quentin Tarantino will pen a Once Upon a Time in Hollywood novelization, as well as breakdown ‘70s movies in a nonfiction book titled Cinema Speculation.

Quentin Tarantino and Bob Richardson on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood set
Photo: Sony Pictures

Quentin Tarantino loves movies. He says he won’t be making them soon, but that doesn’t diminish his appreciation for the art of motion pictures. The Pulp Fiction director signed a two-book deal with Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, to do a deep dive into what he loves most about Hollywood, according to Deadline: 1960s and ‘70s cinema. Tarantino will write a Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood novelization and give an overview of his favorite period in film with Cinema Speculation.

Tarantino also loves books. He got grounded for shoplifting Elmore Leonard’s novel The Switch when he was 15, according to Quentin Tarantino: The Pocket Essential Guide (2004) by D.K. Holm. Leonard’s influence is all over Tarantino’s works, and the filmmaker is paying it forward. “In the ’70s, movie novelizations were the first adult books I grew up reading,” Tarantino said in a statement via 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 as 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.”

Last year’s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood reimagined the moviemaking capital of Los Angeles circa 1969 with a wish-fulfilling alternative reality twist on the Charles Manson Family murders. The film starred Leonardo DiCaprio as aging TV actor Rick Dalton and Brad Pitt as his loyal stunt double Cliff Booth.

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The novel will expand on the film, exploring the two characters’ lives, beginning prior to the events of the film and covering their lives moving forward. The novelization will also follow Dalton and Booth as they transition to Spaghetti Westerns. They will encounter famous actors like Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, and Burt Reynolds. The late actor is more than just a star, Reynolds is a 1970s Hollywood icon. He had even been cast as George Spahn in Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood before his death.

The film, which also starred Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, won two Oscars and earned a total of 10 nominations. The novelization of Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood will be published in the summer of 2021. It will be issued as a Harper Perennial mass market paperback, and will be available via eBook and digital audio editions. It will be followed by a deluxe hardcover edition in fall 2021. Like the film, the book promises to be a love letter to motion pictures.

Tarantino’s second book will expand on that adoration: Cinema Speculation will be a “deep dive into the movies of the 1970s, a rich mix of essays, reviews, personal writing, and tantalizing ‘what ifs,’ from one of cinema’s most celebrated filmmakers, and its most devoted fan,” according to Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

The book will also include Tarantino’s appreciation for Pauline Kael, whose reviews for The New Yorker were almost as influential as the films she critiqued. There has been no Cinema Speculation release date announced.