Taking place in Tinseltown during the summer of the Manson Family murders, the film supposedly follows the story of a television actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) with a waning Hollywood career and his stunt double slash best friend (Brad Pitt).
Previous promotional peeks at the film would have one believe that with its wildly eclectic, stacked cast (everyone from Al Pacino to Lena Dunham to the late Luke Perry are set to appear in the film), its comprehensive attention to period-specific style, and its association with an unconventional bad-boy director like Tarantino, that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood would be a summer sensation.
However, one glance at the film’s first official poster might have you thinking otherwise. A shaggy-haired Pitt and DiCaprio appear on opposite sides of the poster with the former wearing a yellow Hawaiian shirt (the same one he was seen photographed in by paparazzi on set in Los Angeles last summer) and a corny film camera belt buckle on his jeans, and the latter posed in a leather jacket. A slightly out of focus yellow car is parked just behind them, and an even more out of focus Hollywood sign peaks out of the background. From Jackie Brown to Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino’s past film posters have successfully tapped into the visceral, heavily stylized nature of his films, and become signifiers of what nearly every teen believes to constitute good taste. But imagine walking into a college freshman’s dorm room expecting to see the iconic Pulp Fiction poster with Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace smoking a cigarette, and you get this instead.
This one has more in common with a poster for a contemporary B-movie romantic comedy than what one would imagine would be the poster for a pulpy tale about the plight of a fictional Western television soap opera actor who lives next door to the ill-fated Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie), but maybe that was the point. It also bears a similarity to the poster for the 2016 buddy-cop comedy The Nice Guys, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling (the film incidentally also stars Margaret Qualley) and set in late ’70s Los Angeles, but there are also plenty of movie posters that fall into the design cliché trap of looking like a handful of other movie posters that came before them.
Tarantino fans on Twitter are not too excited about the look of this poster so far, but some users have posited that perhaps separate character posters will be released while everyone waits for an official trailer to drop sometime soon.