Shortly after winning the Palme d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, his second film as director, was released to theatres on October 14, 1994. After taking over the box office, the film quickly became a cultural landmark, and is still considered by many to be Tarantino’s masterpiece.
Obsessed with the movies from childhood, Quentin Tarantino wrote his first screenplay at just 14 years old, and shortly after dropped out of school to work as an usher in an adult movie theatre. Throughout the 1980s, Tarantino worked as a recruiter for an aerospace company and as a clerk at a video store. It wasn’t until he met film producer Lawrence Bender at a Hollywood party that he decided to take a serious run at creating his own original films.
In 1987, Tarantino co-wrote and directed his first movie, My Best Friend’s Birthday, which was almost completely destroyed in a fire during editing. Fortunately, the screenplay was salvaged and would later become the basis for the 1993 film True Romance. Around the same time, Tarantino was working as a production assistant on a Dolph Lundgren exercise video where he met a fellow PA by the name of Roger Avary.
Tarantino earned his first paid writing job in 1990, penning the script for Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn, before writing, directing, and starring in his first film, Reservoir Dogs. Following the film’s success, Tarantino turned down offers to direct Speed and Men In Black in order to work on his second movie, Pulp Fiction.
Tarantino and Roger Avary started writing Pulp Fiction in 1990, and wouldn’t finish the script until March of 1992. Coming full circle, Lawrence Bender would end up helping get the film produced. They managed to cast Bruce Willis, one of Hollywood’s biggest names at that time, which would help insure the film’s profitability. With a budget of just $8 million, Tarantino sought to create a film that looked like a $25 million dollar movie. “I wanted it to look like an epic,” Tarantino said. “It’s an epic in everything – in invention, in ambition, in length, in scope, in everything except the price tag.”
The plan worked, and Pulp Fiction was an instant success. The buzz generated at Cannes led to a lucrative opening week, and Tarantino made waves with his fresh, innovative style of filmmaking. Pulp Fiction grossed $107.93 million at the American box office, making it the first “indie” movie to exceed $100 million. The film earned a slew of awards, nominations, and critical praise. Gene Siskel compared Pulp Fiction to cinematic classics like Psycho, Bonnie and Clyde, and A Clockwork Orange.
Twenty-five years later, after directing nine acclaimed films, Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction still stands as his most highly regarded achievement.