Miramax does splits on Tarantino release

Quentin Tarantino will not have to prune “Kill Bill” quite so carefully.

Miramax now plans to release the three-hour plus pic in two parts, with the first to unspool, as planned, on Oct. 10. No release date has been set for the conclusion.

“Kill Bill,” which has a $55 million price tag and was in production for 155 days, follows Uma Thurman’s character who attempts to get revenge against a hitman (that would be Bill) who tried to kill her.

According to a source close to the production, the idea of splitting the film into two parts started out as a joke. But as Tarantino began editing the pic, the two-part plan became more attractive to Tarantino and Miramax co-chief Harvey Weinstein.

In the past, Weinstein has earned a reputation for urging filmmakers to cut the running time of their pictures. Cutting “Kill Bill” into two seems to be an elegant solution since Tarantino gets to release all of his three-hour pic, while Weinstein gets a 90-minute movie (albeit two of them).

The two-part plan, though, raises the stakes for “Kill Bill” and Tarantino, whose last release was “Jackie Brown” in 1995. Miramax is, in effect, asking Tarantino fans to pay twice to see his new release.

With two openings, Miramax will have to significantly up its marketing budget. But the unusual release scheme will make headlines and could help build buzz for the films.

Finding a release date for “Kill Bill, Part 2” could be difficult. The end of the year is already crowded, which means the second part may not come until early 2004.

And if the film is released in two parts in two different years, it could impact “Kill Bill’s” Oscar chances.

Also unclear is how the decision to make two movies will affect the pay packages for the pic’s stars, including Thurman, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah and Michael Madsen. Their original contracts were based on a single film. Releasing two films now may call for renegotiations.

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