China's Bona Film Group to Co-Finance Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' (Exclusive)

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Still 1 - Publicity - H 2019
Andrew Cooper

The Beijing-based studio is expected to handle China distribution for the Charles Manson movie, which stars Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as participate in its worldwide box office earnings.

Quentin Tarantino's much anticipated Charles Manson-era movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, co-starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, is getting a major chunk of its financial backing from China.

Beijing-based studio Bona Film Group has stepped in as a co-financier of the film alongside Sony's Colombia Pictures, Yu Dong, CEO of Bona, told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday.

The Chinese studio is expected to handle distribution of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood throughout Greater China, as well as participate in the film's global box office earnings. Sony Pictures Releasing will distribute Once Upon a Time in Hollywood worldwide.

The project, which is currently shooting in Los Angeles, is produced by Shannon McIntosh and David Heyman. It will be released in North America on July 26. 

Yu declined to share the precise size of Bona's stake.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood follows Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), a former star of a Western TV series, and his longtime stunt double, Cliff Booth (Pitt), who are struggling to make it in a Hollywood they don't recognize anymore. Not much else is known about the film, other than that it takes place in the outer orbit of Charles Manson's Helter Skelter murder spree in late 1960s Los Angeles. It has been described as Tarantino's tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.

The film follows several storylines and features the kind of sprawling, colorful ensemble that Tarantino is known for, including Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Damian Lewis, Luke Perry, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino, Tim Roth, James Marsden, Lena Dunham, and many more. The director, who has spent nearly his entire life in L.A., reportedly spent five years writing the script. It will be his first feature not produced by disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, with whom Tarantino parted ways last year.   

Bona's investment in Once Upon a Time adds to the impressive slate of international titles the company plans to release in China over the coming year. The studio is also co-financing the Brad Pitt space adventure Ad Astra and Roland Emmerich’s World War II tentpole Midway. 

Bona produced and distributed China's highest-grossing film of 2018, Dante Lam's military action film Operation Red Sea, which earned $575 million.