You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘No Guts, No Glory’: Hollywood Needs to Keep Taking Risks on Original Films (Column)

Sony Pictures movie chief Tom Rothman and I certainly have had our fair share of disagreements over the years, to put it mildly. What do you expect when two alpha personalities clash over a story that one argues is unjust and the other defends as totally sound?

But the other night when I called Rothman after the premiere of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” to tell him how much I loved the movie, he was genuinely shocked.

“It’s not the call one gets often — especially from you,” Rothman told me. “When I see that it’s you calling, I think, ‘I must be in trouble!’” (Don’t fret, Tom, there is sure to be more of that type of call in the future.)

For now, I have nothing but praise for Rothman for being willing to take a big financial and creative risk on a highly original movie whose superhero characters are a washed-out actor and his stuntman. (OK, sure, they’re played by the two biggest movie stars in the world, Leo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, but still.)

I have to say it was also somewhat risky to get into business with a filmmaker who does not direct movies for major studios and who made his last eight pictures for Harvey Weinstein, who has since been accused of rape and sexual assault by multiple women.

Popular on Variety

I asked Rothman if he had any concerns about that going in.

“Nope” is what he told me. “Quentin, Leo and Brad. That’s like Halley’s Comet.”

No matter how much money “Once Upon a Time” ends up making, Rothman naturally said he has no plans to abandon future installments of “Spider-Man” in favor of filling Sony’s slate exclusively with Tarantino-style films.

He noted that in fact, “Once Upon a Time” was being released the same week that “Spider-Man: Far From Home” would cross the $1 billion mark in global ticket sales. “The demands of the audience are changing and evolving, so we need to reinvigorate our big franchises and invest in original IP.”

He agreed that if Hollywood stops greenlighting original films, everyone will suffer.

“You’ve got to get up to the plate and swing. No guts, no glory.”

More Film

  • Weathering With You

    Japan Box Office Leaps to $2.4 Billion Record in 2019

    The Japanese box office leaped by 17% in 2019 to set a record $2.4 billion score, according to figures announced Tuesday by the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, locally known as Eirin. The previous high was the $2.2 billion recorded in 2016. The Makoto Shinkai animation “Weathering with You” was the highest earning film [...]

  • Lionsgate Developing 'Memetic' Apocalyptic Horror Movie

    Film News Roundup: Lionsgate Developing 'Memetic' Apocalyptic Horror Movie

    In today’s film news roundup, Lionsgate is developing graphic novel “Memetic” as a feature, the latest Laura Ziskin Prize is announced and Firelight Media creates a fund for nonfiction filmmakers of color at the mid-career mark. PROJECT LAUNCHES Lionsgate is in final negotiations for motion picture rights to the apocalyptic horror graphic novel “Memetic” for [...]

  • Sylvie's Love Review

    'Sylvie's Love': Film Review

    Sultry music swells as the camera swoons over a young couple in a tender nighttime embrace. The 1950s residential New York City street is carefully rain-slicked and lined with shiny classic cars: an obvious stage set. Gene Kelly might just have swung on that lamppost; Doris Day might lean out of an upstairs window to sigh [...]

  • Martin Scorsese Irishman BTS

    Martin Scorsese's Body of Work Extends Far Beyond Male-Centric Mafia Movies

    Actors sometimes complain about being typecast, but it’s a fact of life for anyone in entertainment. John Ford is usually labeled a director of Westerns, despite “The Grapes of Wrath” and  “Mister Roberts.” David Lean is known for his epics, but he also directed “Brief Encounter” and “Summertime.” Vincente Minnelli? The director of musicals, overlooking [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    Will Oscar Campaigning Turn to Mudslinging?

    On March 5, 1963, Army Archerd wrote in Variety: “There’s been a not-so-subtle campaign pyramiding since Oscar nominations that Omar Sharif is an ex-Egyptian soldier who fought in the Israeli War. Forget it: Omar sez: ‘I never fought in any army.’” Archerd also denied the rumor that Sharif was Muslim. Two big takeaways: 1. Mudslinging [...]

  • Blake Lively

    Why Blake Lively Isn't Trying to Be the 'Female James Bond' in 'The Rhythm Section'

    “The Rhythm Section,” Reed Morano’s new espionage thriller about a female assassin who sets out to avenge her family’s untimely death, is not a female-led approximation of a “James Bond” film. Though Barbara Broccoli, the magnate producer whose family has been solely responsible for the franchise, is producing the movie, “The Rhythm Section” is decidedly not [...]

  • Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez. Kristen Anderson-Lopez,

    Kristen Anderson-Lopez Talks Responsibility, Representation in 'Frozen 2' and the Biz

    Gender parity isn’t an issue in Oscar-winning songwriting-composer Kristen Anderson-Lopez’s house, what with her longstanding collaboration with husband Bobby Lopez, but at the Oscars luncheon on Monday, it was a different story. “There were 13 female directors represented in the shorts and documentary fields,” Anderson-Lopez notes, adding, “but how do we get from there to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content