Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tarantino Mad at Disney for Stealing His Theater Venue for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"

For those who love movies, there's a good chance that you're already making plans to see director Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight (if you're lucky, you can see it in 70 mm next week). With the typical great reviews already pouring in, it feels like things are going the directors way, right? Well, not everything exactly. This past morning, Tarantino appeared on The Howard Stern show to discuss why his plan for a great release has been foiled by Disney because of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It isn't just because the latest in the franchise will likely trump its box office. It's also because it's taken away something very personal and important to Tarantino's release plan: The Cinerama Dome. 

If there's one person who's passionate about film to a ridiculous degree, it's Tarantino. You're likely aware of this, as his status as an auteur has been constantly challenged due to his nonstop obscure references and stylistic flourishes. However, he's also the kind of guy who deserves more credit for keeping an old school sensibility of cinema alive. Beyond the typical hype that The Hateful Eight would have received anyways, the choice to release a film in a roadshow format is rare nowadays and only takes someone of Tarantino's stature to pull off. It's likely to be the event of the year for some film goers. However, there's another film that is likely stealing its thunder...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for better or worse, will be the biggest movie of the next few months. Not only has its marketing been overwhelming, but its fans are rabid and will see it anywhere. One of these places in fact is at the Cinerama Dome. With an extended screen to project the imagery, it has been an acclaimed theater for film fans and makes The Arclight one of the primary theater locations in Southern California. However, there's something that seems more upsetting: it has the 70 mm technology that Tarantino is embracing, whereas Star Wars' latest is shot digitally and will be shown on Christmas Day in only 100 locations (over less than a 20th of what the other film's likely to do).

But what exactly does that mean? Why is it such a big deal? If you're a casual film fan, it means nothing. However, Tarantino took to Stern's show to discuss in detail why he is upset by the more popular film taking his primed space. Listen to the clip here, where Stern and Tarantino talk at length about the issue with Stern's promise to fix things.

The issue isn't about Star Wars being a bigger movie. In fact, the issue is more with their parent company: Disney. The plan initially was that The Hateful Eight would be released at the Cinerama Dome on Christmas Day. However, Disney wanted to run their film there through the same time. In a petty move, Disney claimed that they would take Star Wars away from every theater in The Arclight chain if this demand wasn't met. Consider that the film is being played at every other major venue, including The Grauman's Chinese Theater, it seems irrational - though sadly plausible from a greedy business standpoint. Instead of fulfilling a contract, they decided to cave in to Disney's demands.

To make matters worse, The Hateful Eight opens with The Cinerama logo. It would almost seem ill conceived for the film not to play there. However, the word is out there and Tarantino has made his case against Disney. He is surprisingly right about this and deserves some leverage, especially since the film isn't likely to be as beloved as Star Wars, even when it gets a regular release next month. I'd say let him have this special moment, as he intentionally shot the film for this format - which is more than can be said about Disney. While Tarantino doesn't hate J.J. Abrams or the film he directed, he does show some frustration with the company. The question now is if he'll get his way, or simply be plowed over like every other film coming out after Friday. We'll just have to wait and see.

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