Before David Zaslav, Columbia Pictures CEO Became the Poster Child of Bad Decisions by Rejecting Both Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino

Frank Prince Still Regrets His Decision to Turn Down Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino's Films

Before David Zaslav, Columbia Pictures CEO Became the Poster Child of Bad Decisions by Rejecting Both Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino


  • Frank Prince was once the face of bad decisions in Hollywood, long before David Zaslav' questionable acts.
  • Prince rejected Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction for bizarre reasons.
  • Both films were seen as not 'good enough' by Frank Prince, when in truth, they were simply ahead of their time, just like Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List.
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Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino are two of the biggest filmmakers of this generation. Throug the years, the two have made films across every genre, resulting in a range of box office successes. The directors have cemented their legacy with a wide range of films that showcase their talent and are a testament to their quality. Now, every studio would do anything to work with these two directors. However, that was obviously not always the case, as both their top-tier projects were once rejected.

A still from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
A still from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Everyone makes bad decisions in their lives like David Zaslav firing hundreds of employees in an attempt to restructure because Warner Media was not prepared for the future. However, before that, Frank Prince, the CEO of Columbia Pictures, was the face of bad decisions for the network. Prince decided to turn down Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino’s projects as he felt that the films were not good enough.

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Frank Prince Decided To Turn Down Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino’s Projects

Before 1982, Steven Spielberg had already made a name for himself as he had given several smash-hit blockbusters such as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. As a result, he had built immense goodwill and reputation in the industry, and by this time studios had faith in the filmmaker and his projects.

A still from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
A still from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

However, Frank Prince believed otherwise when Spielberg approached the CEO for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, he turned down the film because as per The Rolling Stones“a story about a kindly alien that bonds with a small boy would only appeal to children.” Columbia Pictures sold the film’s script MCA for $1 million and 5% percent of the film’s profit, and that film went on to earn $797.1 million at the worldwide box office.

Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction
Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction

While one would think that Frank Prince would have learned from his mistake in 1982 that was not the case, as he made another bad decision when he decided to discard Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 crime masterpiece, Pulp Fiction featured Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Bruce Willis and Tarantino himself.


The film was another massive hit at the box office, which went on to earn $212.8 million at the worldwide box office. The decisions were not limited to Tarantino or Spielberg as Columbia Pictures had also turned down Back To The Future which was an evergreen film, still loved by the viewers.

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Steven Spielberg’s Another Film Floored The Audience Before Time

Steven Spielberg’s reputation has been reinforced as he has often come up with films that have highly resonated with his viewers. One of his masterpiece flick was Schindler’s List, which is considered to be the best film of his career and a timeless example of humanity. The film was inspired by the 1982 novel Schindler’s Ark which narrated the true and spine-chilling story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who had saved the lives of over a thousand refugees during the Holocaust.

Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List
Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List

The film was made on a measly budget of $22 million, but it was so well made that it grossed $322.1 million at the worldwide box office, alongside earning praise from critics and numerous awards on the way. The film is an excellent showpiece of his talent, and how he can integrate strong acting, unsettling imagery, and historical authenticity to narrate a story that audiences would never forget.

As a result, the film still feels unsettling to the viewers even today, and it’s still regarded as a timeless cinematic masterpiece in addition to a heartbreaking story.  

Also Read: “A dark fact of Iron Man 3”: Tear Jerking Moment of Gwyneth Paltrow With Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man Helmet Has a Tragic Backstory


E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial can be rented on Apple TV.


Written by Tushar Auddy

Articles Published: 1067

Tushar Auddy, Content Writer. He has been in the entertainment industry for 3 years and is always on the lookout for a captivating story. He is a student of Linguistics and is currently pursuing his Master's degree in the same field. He has a passion for literature that runs deep and loves nothing more than getting lost in a novel for hours on end. When he isn't reading, you'll find him capturing the beauty of language.