“We’re in the movie and the movie theater business so the truth is, and this is an honest answer, I just don’t spend much time thinking about it,” the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group chairman told Variety on Thursday in Cannes at the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” premiere afterparty.
What’s on his mind at the moment is Quentin Tarantino and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywoood.” Tarantino scrambled to finish the film in time to premiere — and compete — at Cannes.
“I said [to Tarantino], ‘If you’re happy and you’re ready, we’ll go. But if you’re not happy and you’re not ready we won’t go,’” Rothman recalled. “[Festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux] was very understanding about that. In the end, Quentin got to a place where he was really genuinely happy with it.”
And so was most of the audience at the premiere. Tarantino and his cast, including stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, received a six-minute standing ovation.
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Rothman said he saw a final cut of the film about two weeks ago. But it’s not like he wasn’t sending notes back to Tarantino during the production and editing.
“Really good filmmakers want feedback,” he said. “They wanted experienced open feedback and then he makes whatever decision he makes.”
As for box office dollars, Rothman shrugged, “Who knows? What do you think? Don’t ask me. If any head of the studio tells you they know, don’t believe it.”
Next up for Sony is the “Men in Black” reboot, “Men in Black: International,” hitting theaters on June 14. The studio is following that up with “Spider-Man: Far From Home” on July 2.
Tom Holland’s second Spidey movie comes on the heels of the historic and record-breaking box office success of Disney and Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame.”
“I always knew my ‘Avatar’ record would fall at some point,” said Rothman, who spearheaded James Cameron’s epic sci-fi fantasy when he was at Fox. “I said recently to [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige that anybody who tells you they’re happy when their record gets broken they’re full of s—. But if somebody had to do it, I’m glad it’s him because it could haven’t have happened to a nicer gentleman.”
Until “Endgame” took its place, “Avatar” was the second-highest grossing film of all time at the domestic box office behind “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
As for a guess of what upcoming movie could best “Endgame,” Rothman predicts, “Maybe the next ‘Avatar.’ But I think Kevin will hold that record for a long time.”