You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Quentin Tarantino: Hero of the Homevideo Business

His career arc extends from VHS store worker to A-list Hollywood director

Quentin Tarantino — Variety’s 2013 Home Entertainment Hall of Fame honoree — could be a poster boy for the home-entertainment industry. After all, it’s well-known that the Oscar winner and key influencer of industry trends began his film career at the counter of a video store.

This year, his “Django Unchained” has become a prime example of the growing success of digital distribution just when whetting consumer appetites for digital is the industry’s top priority.

In the U.S., “Django” has been an extremely strong performer, backed with an early electronic sell-through (EST) model and retail pre-sales, says Bill Clark, president of Anchor Bay Entertainment, which distributed the Weinstein Co. title.

In other world territories, “Django” was equally successful, says David Bishop, worldwide president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “It overperformed in many markets to become SPHE’s biggest international digital title yet, including the highest share of HD Digital transactions across residential VOD and new media to date,” he says.

On DVD and Blu-ray, Tarantino’s major films as a director — “Django Unchained,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Death Proof,” “Kill Bill Vol. 2,” “Kill Bill Vol. 1,” “Jackie Brown,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs” — have generated U.S. consumer spending of more than $600 million, according to entertainment industry measurement firm Rentrak. When his other films — including those on which he served as producer or writer but not director — are included, that total grows to more than $850 million, according to Rentrak data.

But just as Tarantino has had an impact on home entertainment, the industry has influenced him, going back to his time as a clerk at the Video Archives rental store in Manhattan Beach, Calif. Tarantino has referred to the now-defunct retailer where he worked while writing “True Romance” and “Natural Born Killers” as his film school. The store’s shelves were broadly and deeply stocked with fare ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to documentaries, foreign-language and cult pictures.

Tarantino soon went on to direct “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction.” The latter won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or and the Academy Award for original screenplay. So began Tarantino’s influence on home entertainment, both as revenue generator and a tastemaker.

What’s more, Tarantino made “Reservoir Dogs” with the backing of home-video company Live Entertainment, an arrangement that would end up having a strong impact on business models.

“It was an important film not only for Tarantino, but for the industry as it showed that financial input in a feature from a homevideo entity could lead to acclaimed films with a sizable theatrical audience,” says film writer Irv Slifkin, who’s also professor of journalism and film at Temple U. “It also proved that such investments could help burgeoning young filmmakers.”

In addition, Tarantino’s interest in material outside the mainstream shone a light on genres and films that might otherwise have remained in obscurity for all but the most devoted cinephiles.

“Whenever a Tarantino film opens in a theater, it seems to pique interest in its inspiration,” Slifkin says. “ ‘Inglourious Basterds’ prompted people to check out other war-mission films on video. ‘Django Unchained’ opened the window for studios to release spaghetti Westerns of a similar mold, and the ‘Kill Bill’ movies brought attention to samurai movies and martial arts-themed pictures.”

Slifkin also credits Tarantino with helping pioneer the DVD sequel business with the creation of popular straight-to-video follow-ups to “From Dusk Till Dawn,” which, like the original, were executive-produced by Tarantino.

Video stores like the one where Tarantino started out may be a thing of the past, but as the “Django” example shows, the iconic filmmaker’s influence easily transcends bricks and mortar.

More Film

  • Joker

    Korea Box Office: 'Joker' Remains on Top, 'Gemini Man' Lands in Fourth

    Warner Bros.’ “Joker” remained on top of the South Korean box office in its second weekend. The American psychological thriller earned $5.71 million from 768,000 admissions between Friday and Sunday, for a total of $28.3 million from 3.85 million admissions after two weekends. It accounted for 46% of total weekend box office in the country. [...]

  • dolittle-DRD_Tsr1Sht_1011_RGB_4_rgb-1

    Robert Downey Jr. Embarks on Perilous Journey in First 'Dolittle' Trailer (Watch)

    Robert Downey Jr. is setting sail with some furry friends in the first trailer for “Dolittle,” Universal Pictures’ reimagining of the classic story about a man who could speak to animals. “We have no choice but to embark on this perilous journey,” he says. Set to a rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” [...]

  • Parasite

    Bong Joon Ho's 'Parasite' Posts Powerful Opening in North America

    Bong Joon-Ho’s dark comedy “Parasite,” which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, has launched with a spectacular $376,264 at three U.S. theaters.  Neon opened “Parasite” at The Landmark and Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles and at the IFC Center in New York, where it broke the opening record set by 2014’s “Boyhood.” Its per-screen average of [...]

  • Joker Movie

    'Joker' Dominates International Box Office With $124 Million

    “Joker” is showing impressive traction internationally with a second weekend of $123.7 million on 24,149 screens in 79 markets — a holdover decline of just 29%. Joaquin Phoenix’s psychological thriller has totaled $351.2 million outside North America after only 12 days in release. And with $192 million in domestic grosses, “Joker” has now topped $543 [...]

  • Joker

    'Joker' Remains Box Office Ruler With $55 Million

    Joaquin Phoenix is king of the North American box office once again as “Joker” scores an easy victory in its second weekend with $55 million at 4,374 sites. “Joker” dominated a trio of new entries with animated comedy “The Addams Family” leading the rest of pack with $30.3 million at 4,007 venues, topping forecasts. Will [...]

  • French director Bertrand Tavernier attends the

    Bertrand Tavernier on Coppola, Scorsese, Cayatte, Cinema’s Bright Future

    Veteran French director Bertrand Tavernier (“Round Midnight”) – president and director of the Institut Lumière and Lumière Festival, which he co-manages with Cannes’ Thierry Frémaux – has played a pivotal role in restoring classic French films and defending the importance of French directors, such as Claude Autant Lara, Henri Decoin and André Cayatte, who were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content