Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantinos love letter to the industry in 1969, was a smash at the box office in its opening weekend, pulling in about $40 million domestically. Its now the second-highest opening ever for a Tarantino film, nearly besting record holder Inglourious Basterds (when the latters roughly $38 million is adjusted for inflation, of course). Once Upon a Time also set a record for first-day earnings for a Tarantino film, per Variety, thanks to its $16.8 million haul on Friday.
The films success is a welcome sight for an original film with an R rating, which is typically a tough sell in todays franchise-heavy climate. It helps to have stars like Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margot Robbie on deck, led by an auteur with a dedicated fan base. The film, Tarantinos ninth feature—and second-to-last film, if his retirement proposal goes as planned—revolves around a flagging actor (DiCaprio) and his bromance with his stunt double (Pitt), while also following a few days in the life of Sharon Tate (Robbie) and the rise of the murderous Manson family.
Despite its success, Once Upon a Time officially came in second place at the box office, trailing behind Disneys Lion King remake—which made another $75.5 million this past weekend. The behemoth, which is setting records for the studio, has now grossed $962 million worldwide, hurtling toward the rare billion-dollar mark.
Still, Once Upon a Time has a lot to celebrate beyond the box office. Per Deadline, Oscar voters rushed to the Academys Saturday night screening of the film at the 1,010-seat Samuel Goldwyn Theater. At least 75 people were reportedly turned away, prompting the Academy to schedule an additional screening on August 1. Like the excitement around the film at Cannes, this early interest seems like a sure sign that Once Upon a Time will be a major awards-season contender in a slew of categories, including the biggies like best picture, best director, best actor, best supporting actor (if Pitt heads that way), and best actress (though Robbies presence in the film—or lack thereof—has been debated). Tarantino is an Oscar winner himself, previously picking up best-original-screenplay statuettes for Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained. That, coupled with the fact that the Academy loves movies about movies, certainly wont be ignored in the coming months.