Even by his outsized standards, Quentin Tarantino is going very big with the opening of “The Hateful Eight.” And the opening night crowd at Hollywood’s Arclight Cinerama Dome reveled Monday night in the sheer scope of the director’s eighth film – shot in rare 70 mm Super Cinemascope, running more than three hours and featuring an overture and intermission.
Tarantino appeared giddy from the start of the premiere, when he introduced each of his players like a hyper-caffeinated, monster-truck-rally commentator. His energy remained high through the night and into the after-party, where he celebrated seeing “Hateful” for the first time on the dome’s giant screen. “Tonight was like seeing it for the first time for me,” the director rhapsodized.
Tarantino and the Weinstein Company are introducing the film for two weeks at Christmas at 98 theaters across the country. The special 70mm presentation will include the short intermission and overture, to create a “road show” style event like audiences once enjoyed for films like “Ben Hur,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Gone with the Wind.” A slightly shorter version of the film will then open wider in January.
Richard Gladstein, a producer on the film, said the unusual release “is not a gimmick” but a special presentation for viewers who like seeing films as an event.
“Quentin is creating a piece of art,” added James Parks, who plays stage coach driver O.B. “There is a lot of craft involved, using the 70 mm and creating an atmosphere, an environment for people to take their time …. It brings us back to the joy of film. It makes people think and talk and discuss what they have seen. And that is what film should be. It should be an experience.”
The debut was as notable for what did not happen as what did. No protesters greeted Tarantino, who has absorbed heavy criticism from police organizations since late October, after he spoke out about “murderers” in law enforcement. The director explained at the time that his remarks were taken out of context and he received support from many anti-police abuse groups, but multiple police unions still said they would boycott the film. No protesters were in evidence Monday night along Hollywood Boulevard. And four off-duty LAPD officers provided security.
Although Tarantino did not address the controversy, producer Gladstein defended the helmer’s comments. “Quentin spoke from his heart about how he felt about certain injustices,” Gladstein said. “The only logical response to that is applause.”