Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Hateful Eight’ Roadshow Heads to Knoxville on Dec. 23

In Movies & TV, Program Notes by William Mahaffeyleave a COMMENT

AE_1224_HatefulEight2Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is known for many things: sharp and unforgettable dialogue, extreme violence, and an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema. His passion for film is quite literally a passion for film—Tarantino is an outspoken critic of digital filmmaking and projection, famously calling it “the death of cinema” and “TV in public.”

With his latest release, the Kurt Russell­-led epic Western The Hateful Eight, the filmmaker is taking his love of old­-school cinema to the next level: a limited­-engagement “roadshow” featuring an exclusive version of the movie, projected in 70mm. Though the initial goal was 100 theaters, logistical difficulties brought the number down to around 44 installations, with the remaining theaters compromising with a DCP version of the longer cut. The rollout is limited to one week, and Knoxville has one of the few theaters that will be projecting the film.

Starting on Christmas Eve, Regal Cinemas Pinnacle Stadium 18 in Turkey Creek will screen a 70mm print of the hotly anticipated ensemble oater, complete with an overture, an intermission, and 12 minutes of footage that won’t be included in the movie’s Dec. 31 wide release. A 70mm projector has been installed at Pinnacle just for the roadshow’s brief run, and the company is bringing in a special projectionist to oversee the screenings. Tarantino has said that the roadshow edition of the film—which was shot in Ultra Panavision 70 with the very lenses used to film Ben-Hur—will even be edited differently, playing in “big, long, cool, unblinking takes” that can only be seen in the 70mm release.

Seeing Tarantino’s preferred cut will be enough to get diehards in the theater, but the real draw is the 70mm projection itself. The Hateful Eight is only the 11th film shot in Ultra Panavision 70, placing it on a short list that includes How the West Was Won and the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty. It’s the largest format available for film, and hasn’t seen a wide release since Khartoum in 1966. Recent 70mm Imax releases are most often 35mm blown up for the format, sometimes with a few scenes shot on true 70mm, i.e. Christopher Nolan and the last two Dark Knight films. Simply put, actually shooting on true 70 results in bigger pictures, higher resolution, and a much more expansive frame.

The real triumph of The Hateful Eight, then, is the lengths to which Tarantino and distributors the Weinstein Company have gone to conjure the magic of an old­-fashioned motion-picture event. Since only a handful of theaters in the country are still equipped to project 70mm film, the Weinsteins have hunted down every 70mm projector and projectionist they could find. It’s an unprecedented rollout for a generation of filmgoers raised on digital cinema, and an event we might never see again. So while everyone has their eyes on J.J. Abrams’ high-­tech Star Wars reboot, Tarantino’s old­-school Western might be the most remarkable cinematic event of the season.

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