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Quentin Tarantino has abandoned what was supposed to be his final movie; other directors should do the same

The Movie Critic starring Brad Pitt is no longer in pre-production after Tarantino stepped away from the project

Quentin Tarantino in The Hateful Eight
Image credit: The Weinstein Company

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Can we take a moment to appreciate Quentin Tarantino just walking away from the movie that he’s been developing as his final project for years? I’m not being sarcastic; I think there’s something not only amusing — so many people were looking forward to that movie, including myself! There’s something genuinely funny to me that he just decided to abandon it, in a compellingly counterintuitive sense — but also admirable about Tarantino getting so far into the process of making the movie and then just deciding, ‘Eh, maybe not.’

In many ways, it’s Tarantino just continuing a trend he’s maintained for his entire career. There are all manner of movies that Tarantino has spoken about as potentially working on before abandoning, including a number of potential sequels and spin-offs to Kill Bill — please, let’s not do that, let’s just let those two movies stand alone and not go back, decades later — as well as movie versions of all kinds of comic books, including DC’s Green Lantern and Sgt. Rock, as well as Marvel’s Silver Surfer and Iron Man, a good decade before Jon Favreau stepped into those particular shoes. Additionally, he’s talked about working on his own versions of some of his favorite genre movies, including a screwball comedy, a disaster movie, a kung-fu movie, and another swing at the grind house genre after 2007’s Grindhouse.

Quite how real some of these potential projects have been, and how many are simply the interview ramblings of a creative and playful subject, is open to question. Did he really want to make a trilogy of Len Deighton adaptations, given that he’s long maintained that he’d only make 10 movies before retiring as a director? What about his comments at San Diego Comic-Con in 2014 that he was thinking about a sci-fi thriller? It’s entirely unclear, and honestly, there’s something fun about just how unreliable he is when talking about future plans; who doesn’t love the romance of a movie buff so in love with the form that his mind is constantly whirring with potential next projects?

Related: Quentin Tarantino: How to watch the filmmaker's two cinematic universes in release and chronological order

That idea — that Tarantino is a fan of movies as much as someone who makes them — has been part of his public identity since he first broke onto the scene with 1992’s Reservoir Dogs, and it’s remained at the center ever since. (Go read his great collection of essays, Cinema Speculation, if you need proof.) It’s what makes the idea that he’d abandon what looked to be his final project such an enjoyable idea: it doesn’t matter that he’s been developing for years — it almost makes sense, in a strange way, because he simply decided that it wouldn’t make a good enough movie to end his career on.

As much as I genuinely wanted to see the movie — titled The Movie Critic, it was intended to be a story about a 1970s movie critic who wrote reviews for a rundown porn magazine, starring Brad Pitt — I find myself grateful to Tarantino for knowing when to step away, and wishing that so many other directors would feel comfortable enough to do the same, either in the future, or even in some multiversal past. (Imagine the joyful world when Star Trek Into Darkness didn’t happen, because J.J. Abrams knew better than to start shooting before someone had thought through that Khan reveal?) Just think about the crappy movies the world could have avoided if more people had done what Tarantino has!

I'll just go ahead and say it: more movie directors should walk away from their commitments at the last minute. Cinema would be in better shape if they did.

(Admittedly, he might change his mind about the project one more time; Tarantino famously similarly walked away from The Hateful Eight after a version of the screenplay leaked online, and talked about plans to turn it into a novel. He changed his mind after a table read, and it became his 2015 release.)

Better yet, walking away from The Movie Critic has one more upside: Tarantino has an open slot for that final movie once again. Hey, what do you think are the odds we can convince him to try that sci-fi movie after all…?


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