How soon is too soon for a hard sell? Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (sic) doesn't open in theaters in the US for three more months, but it will have its world premiere in competition at Cannes next week (May 20). Tarantino has been busy promoting it everywhere from American Idol, where he served last month as a guest "director," to the New York Times, where he mentioned in passing, "I have a half-written prequel ready to go if this movie's a smash."
That's a big "if." Will people turn out to see a funny -- and likely to be extremely violent -- World War II movie in the dog days of August, even with Brad Pitt? Inglourious Basterds takes place in "a Quentin period world," according to production designer David Wasco, in which "a band of Jewish-American soldiers [go] on a scalp-hunting revenge quest against the Nazis," as the NYT describes the plot. Reportedly, 70% of the dialogue will be in French and German with English subtitles. One of the actors playing a Nazi, Daniel Brühl, considers the film an out-and-out laugh fest: "If a comedy is intelligent and has depth, it's a very legitimate way to talk about Fascism in Nazi Germany."
But what about a prequel? "Once the Basterds get through with Europe," Tarantino says, "they could go to the South and do it to the Kluxers in the '50s. That's another story you could tell." Another possibility is a shelved subplot following "African-American soldiers stuck behind enemy lines." His first hurdle is getting past the notoriously prickly Cannes critical corps. The rest of us can pass judgment in August.