Quentin Tarantino is reviving the movie novelization with an adaptation of Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood that expands the story of fictional western star Rick Dalton and his stuntman and BFF, Cliff Booth. The filmmaker has signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins that also includes a non-fiction text titled Cinema Speculation, which the publisher describes as a “deep dive into the movies of the 1970’s, a rich mix of essays, reviews, personal writing, and tantalizing ‘what if’s,’ from one of cinema’s most celebrated filmmakers, and its most devoted fan.” For his novelization of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (which cleverly drops the ellipses of the film’s title), Deadline says that Tarantino “breathes new life” into the characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in his 2019 film. The novelization will be released first in mass market paperback and digital formats followed by a deluxe hardcover edition next fall. You can pre-order the paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon, though once you see the outstanding cover art, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want a digital copy.
A throwback to classic movie novelizations, which often elaborated on a film’s plot and character histories and included photo inserts, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood will take a closer look at the lives and careers of Rick and Cliff. Per Deadline, the novelization also includes a meta component: “an appreciation of Dalton’s post Bounty Law career by Pulp Fiction filmmaker Tarantino, who recounts Rick Dalton’s attempts to extend his career in Italy.” One of the people Dalton meets is screen legend Burt Reynolds, who was originally set to play George Spahn in Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood. Reynolds passed away before he could film his scenes and was replaced by Bruce Dern.
In a statement about the novelization, Tarantino said, “In the seventies movie novelizations were the first adult books I grew up reading, 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, 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.”