Saturday, June 13, 2015

"The Hateful Eight" to Become Widest 70 MM Release in 20 Years on Christmas Day

Much like his previous film Django Unchained, director Quentin Tarantino looks to be making Christmas into a time for bloody, profane, stylized westerns for the cinephile in all of us. This week, news was released that his latest film, The Hateful Eight, will be opening in theaters on the exact same day three years after the director's last stab at the genre. While it will be easy to speculate its Oscar chances, the more interesting note is Tarantino's approach to its release. While you will get to see The Hateful Eight on Christmas Day, you will have to be a lucky son of a gun near a theater that has a 70 MM screen. 

The story itself of how The Hateful Eight came into existence is a long and storied one. From its script leaking online to a table read, there was initial concern that the film wouldn't happen at all. With a very uninspired teaser trailer that cropped up late last year (months before casting was announced), the film looks to be back on and continuing to dive the director into a film genre that recently won him a Best Original Screenplay Oscar. He looks to be going for the gold again, or at least doing so in a very striking way. As a notorious cinephile who even incorporated a movie theater into the plot of Inglourious Basterds, the move to release on 70 MM makes sense. However, the approach is less than orthodox in the modern digital world.

The last time that audiences had the chance to see a film in 70 MM was for last year's Interstellar. Lucky audiences got to see it in a format that the director (Christopher Nolan) had intended. Where that lasted two days, Tarantino has plans to make The Hateful Eight available for longer in this format. If everything goes according to plan, it will be the widest release for a 70 MM film in close to 20 years. However, with majority of theaters no longer equipped with this format, the chances of it coming to a theater near you isn't likely to be happening immediately. 

That doesn't mean that it won't happen eventually. In fact, you will not have to wait long. There is a planned digital release set for January 8, 2016. While some could argue that this is largely due to Tarantino's fear of piracy, it also will be an interesting way to get audiences to view formats that are generally perceived as outdated. I do hope in general that the film is good, but I do wonder if this is also a ploy of embracing film that will get Academy voters to be more generous. It is too early to look at its prospects, but the fact that we can look forward to some alternative programming this Christmas (which also sees the release of The Revenant and Joy)  means that this Oscar season will end 2015 on a far more interesting note than last year. Let just hope that Tarantino still has it together.