Quentin Tarantino’s final movie: Everything to know about the director’s swan song

Quentin Tarantino is calling cut on his movie career. The acclaimed filmmaker has said he plans to retire from directing after one last film, and now, the first details about his swan song are trickling in. Here’s everything we know about the final Tarantino movie, why the director is calling it quits, and what he could do next:

What will Tarantino’s final movie be?

Quentin Tarantino’s alleged final film ever will be The Movie Critic, which is set “in late 1970s Los Angeles with a female lead at its center,” The Hollywood Reporter has revealed. The Pulp Fiction director has reportedly written the script and is preparing to direct it this fall, suggesting it could potentially be released in 2024. 

The Movie Critic is a working title and not final, Variety says, adding that Tarantino is shopping the script to potential buyers and seeking a deal that would include a “robust theatrical release.”

Further plot details weren’t revealed, though the premise sparked speculation that the movie could be about Pauline Kael. After all, Tarantino has frequently expressed admiration for The New Yorker‘s late critic. She was active in the 1970s, and he cites her numerous times in his film criticism book Cinema Speculation

“The critic that’s had the most impact on me is, hands down, Pauline Kael,” Tarantino said on the Pure Cinema podcast in 2020, per Air Mail. “To me [she] was my film professor, and at the end of the day ended up being more influential to me as a filmmaker than any director.”

Kael is widely regarded as one of the most influential movie critics of all time. One of her most famous pieces of writing was 1971’s Raising Kane, a controversial essay questioning the authorship of Citizen Kane. She also briefly worked as a Paramount consultant in the 1970s, and the Reporter notes that “the timing of that Paramount job seems to coincide with the setting of” Tarantino’s script. Kael retired in 1991, the year before Tarantino released his first movie, Reservoir Dogs

It isn’t clear if The Movie Critic will be directly about Kael, merely draw inspiration from her life, or neither. But the project appears to have come together quickly, as Tarantino said in Nov. 2022 he didn’t know what his last movie would be and was in no rush to make it. 

What else has Tarantino said about his last movie? 

Though no details about The Movie Critic were known prior to March 2023, Tarantino previously gave a few hints about what we can expect from his final project.

He has said, for instance, that his 10th film will likely feel like an epilogue to his career, whereas his ninth movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, was more of an epic. 

“If you think about the idea of all the movies telling one story and each film is like a train boxcar connected to each other, [Once Upon a Time in Hollywood] would sort of be the big show-stopping climax of it all,” he said in 2019, per CinemaBlend. “And I could imagine that the 10th one would be a little more epilogue-y.” 

Tarantino said on 2 Bears, 1 Cave in Nov. 2022 that he didn’t expect his final movie to involve rewriting history as he did in Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. “That’s sort of my revisionist history trilogy,” he said, adding, “I don’t think I would do that for the last one.” He also told the ReelBlend podcast that his 10th movie likely wouldn’t be autobiographical and that he plans for it to be promoted as his final film, with “the last film by Quentin Tarantino” likely appearing in the trailer and even the opening credits. 

Tarantino has discussed many other potential movie ideas throughout his career, from a Star Trek film to a third Kill Bill that could star Uma Thurman’s daughter, Maya Hawke. But in settling on The Movie Critic, he has seemingly shut the door for good on directing any of these projects. 

Why is Tarantino retiring?

For over a decade, Tarantino has repeatedly said he plans to retire after 10 films because he wants to go out on top and ensure his movies don’t decline in quality as he gets older.  

“I just don’t want to be an old-man filmmaker,” he told Playboy in 2012. “I want to stop at a certain point. Directors don’t get better as they get older. Usually the worst films in their filmography are those last four at the end. I am all about my filmography, and one bad film f–ks up three good ones.” 

Tarantino has never wavered on this plan, doubling down on it during two press tours in 2021 and 2022. 

“I’m an entertainer,” he told CNN’s Chris Wallace in 2022. “I want to leave you wanting more, and I don’t want to work to diminishing returns. I don’t want to become this old man who’s out of touch, and already I’m feeling a bit like an old man out of touch when it comes to the current movies that are out right now. And that’s what happens.” 

Technically, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was already Tarantino’s 10th film. But he considers Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2 to be a single movie, leaving room for one more. 

What will Tarantino do next? 

Assuming Tarantino sticks with his retirement plan, don’t expect him to totally disappear from the spotlight. 

He could spend the rest of his career writing books and plays, for instance. Tarantino already released his debut novel in 2021, a novelization of his film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which he followed up with a film criticism book, Cinema Speculation, in 2022. “I kind of feel this is the time for the third act [of my life] to just lean a little bit more into the literary,” he told Peter Travers in 2020

On The Big Picture podcast in 2021, Tarantino noted he plans to continue writing novels “quite a bit,” potentially including a novelization of his movie Reservoir Dogs. He added that he has already written two chapters of an original Western novel, which is “kind of pulpy,” and hopes to eventually write a novelization “of a movie that’s not mine.” Tarantino also told The Big Picture he has “written a play version” of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which he plans to bring to the stage, and five episodes of Bounty Law, the fictional Rick Dalton TV show from within the world of his 2019 film. And on The Joe Rogan Experience, he said he hopes to bring The Hateful Eight and Reservoir Dogs to the stage, as well. 

Beyond this, Tarantino has noted he could still direct television without breaking his 10-movie commitment. In fact, he revealed on 2 Bears 1 Cave in 2022 he has already written eight episodes of a limited series and planned to direct them all, potentially as soon as this year. So it isn’t clear if that idea morphed into The Movie Critic or if he put it off until after making his last film. Either way, while Tarantino is looking to step away from films, he may not be ready to roll credits on his directing career entirely.