When audiences pay to see the limited roadshow engagement of Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” this holiday season, it won’t just be the projection of Ultra Panavision 70mm photography that distinguishes it from multiplex versions released two weeks later. It will be a slightly different — and longer — film overall.
“The roadshow version has an overture and an intermission, and it will be three hours, two minutes,” Tarantino told Variety. “The multiplex version is about six minutes shorter, not counting the intermission time, which is about 12 minutes.”
The two-time Oscar winner was not ordered to truncate the film for the Jan. 8 wider release. Rather, he liked the idea of the roadshow experience having a little something extra. “Nor did I want to treat the multiplex release like this left-handed version, either,” he said. So he tweaked certain scenes to better suit the separate viewing experiences.
“The 70 is the 70,” he said. “You’ve paid the money. You’ve bought your ticket. So you’re there. I’ve got you. But I actually changed the cutting slightly for a couple of the multiplex scenes because it’s not that. Now it’s on Showtime Extreme. You’re watching it on TV and you just kind of want to watch a movie on your couch. Or you’re at Hot Dog on a Stick and you just want to catch a movie.”
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The sequences in question play in “big, long, cool, unblinking takes” in the 70mm version, Tarantino said. “It was awesome in the bigness of 70, but sitting on your couch, maybe it’s not so awesome. So I cut it up a little bit. It’s a little less precious about itself.”
Roadshow experiences are rare these days, but they have been implemented by filmmakers looking to make splashes. Kevin Smith toured his 2011 film “Red State,” four-walling it in theaters across the country at premium prices. In 2008, Steven Soderbergh’s two-part “Che” was presented as a double-feature roadshow in certain markets. Tarantino’s fellow celluloid proponents Paul Thomas Anderson (“The Master”) and Christopher Nolan (“Interstellar”) have released movies in the 70mm format in recent years, but it’s mostly reserved for repertory and retrospective programs.
Panavision retrofitted lenses for cameras during production of “The Hateful Eight” and made 2,000-foot magazines to hold the massive amounts of film. The Weinstein Company, meanwhile, is paying to install projectors in venues across the country. While only 16 70mm prints for “The Master” were struck, and 12 for “Interstellar,” the ambitious plan for the “Hateful Eight” roadshow is to play in 100 theaters when it opens Dec. 25.
Tarantino, who revamped the New Beverly Theater in Los Angeles last year with a film only directive, said 70mm could be a way to combat ubiquitous digital projection, a development he considers a bridge too far in the steady move away from celluloid.
“I didn’t realize what a lost cause 35mm projection was,” he said. “But what I also didn’t know is how excited everyone was going to be about 70. I think everybody is looking to see how we do in that first two weeks. But that’s also kind of exciting. I’m hoping that ‘Hateful Eight’ does well enough that that becomes, for the filmmakers who care, the new premier way to launch their movie in an exclusive way.”