On a budget of just over $8 million, Pulp Fiction became the first independent film to gross over $200 million. The movie won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and received seven Oscar nominations. Movie critic Roger Ebert called it the most influential movie of the 1990s.
Adam Nayman, a film critic, was 13 when he tried to sneak into a local screening of Pulp Fiction in Toronto. The film received an R rating in Canada, meaning you had to be over 18 to watch the movie. Nayman would succeed in seeing the film and later rewatched it several times when it became available on home video. As a kid, he fell in love with the characters in the film and the references to classic movies, including Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill, Walter Hill’s cult classic The Warriors, and Jean- Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders. There was also the film’s soundtrack, which featured Kool & The Gang’s “Jungle Boogie,” Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man,” and Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”
“Pulp Fiction was immersed in the ideas of cool, which has to do with knowledge and frame of reference,” Nayman says. “As a 13-year-old, I wanted to see it because I felt like I’d be smarter. I felt like participating in this movie’s release was a way to show that I got it. This was the biggest thing that ever happened in terms of what was taste-making in the teenage cinephile circle.”
After Pulp Fiction, Nayman eagerly anticipated Tarantino’s next film, Jackie Brown, an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard 1992 novel “Rum Punch.” The film’s emotional core would be centered around two characters, Jackie, played by Pam Grier, and Max, whose role went to Robert Forster. After the success of Pulp Fiction, Tarantino decided to partner with Jackson again, casting him as a dangerous Los Angeles–based black-market drugs and guns dealer named Ordell Robbie, who would be the main antagonist in the film. In one of the scenes, Jackson’s character has to hand over $10,000 in cash. He reaches into the chair next to him to show the money and holds up a Raptors-branded black duffel bag. The team had provided Jackson with plenty of merchandise during his stay in Toronto, from hats to jerseys to a leather jacket he often wore sitting courtside. He was also given a duffel bag, which Jackson brought to the set of Jackie Brown, asking the prop manager if it would be okay to use in the scene. “He said yes, and Quentin didn’t mind either,” he recalls. “So I got to say, ‘Got it right here in my Raptor bag.’”
Nayman went to a Jackie Brown screening at the Hollywood Theater on the east side of Yonge Street, north of St. Clair Avenue, within walking distance of his house, and remembers the entire theater applauding the reference to the Raptors. “It brought the house down,” Nayman says. “I remember laughing and just being like, ‘Where did that come from?’”
This is an adapted excerpt from PREHISTORIC: THE AUDACIOUS AND IMPROBABLE ORIGIN STORY OF THE TORONTO RAPTORS by Alex Wong. Reprinted with permission from Triumph Books