8 Decades of The Hollywood Reporter

2012-02 ENDPG Reservoir Dogs H
Courtesy of Lawrence Bender

From left: Michael Madsen, Tarantino, Chris Penn, Bender, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth and Eddie Bunker on the set of "Reservoir Dogs."

The most glamorous and memorable moments from a storied history.

Twenty years ago, Reservoir Dogs set the template for the Sundance myth in which a young filmmaker comes to town, blows everyone away with a low-budget movie and proceeds to become a big Hollywood director. Quentin Tarantino's $1.5 million film was the fest's hot ticket in 1992. The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "This plug gutter is wiping out audiences here at the Sundance Film Festival." The review also said the film, with its famous ear-cutting scene, is "just plain brutal" and would "satisfy some urges for the can't-get-enough-of-Scorsese lookers, but its relentless intensity will likely claim many screening victims." Producer Lawrence Bender, then 34, says two memories stand out for him from the festival: After dropping off the film's prints and final paperwork at financial backer Live Entertainment's L.A. office, he drove his Toyota straight to Park City, where, he says, "I had no idea what to expect"; and at the first screening, "the print was slightly out of focus and slightly on the walls, and then the power went out during the Mexican standoff scene. I was freaking out, and Quentin turned to me and said: 'Relax. Don't worry about it. It's OK. I can feel it -- they like the movie.'" The big disappointment came when the film won no awards at Sundance ("How could it not have won for screenwriting?" wonders Bender), but that was allayed when it was picked up by the distributor they really wanted -- Miramax, led by Harvey Weinstein -- and they went to Cannes with it. Although it grossed less than $3 million domestically, as Tarantino said in a 2007 interview, Dogs was "the one that changed my life." Within two years, Bender and Tarantino (again with Miramax) made Pulp Fiction, which took in more than $100 million at the box office and received seven Oscar nominations, including best picture.