There’ve been two bits of Quentin Tarantino news recently related to his upcoming movie The Hateful Eight that I felt were worth commenting on.
First of all, The New York Times reports that Tarantino and The Weinsein Company have spent the past year and a half working to open the new film in at least 100 theaters in the 70mm format.
This is actually going to be what the company is calling a “Roadshow Edition” of the movie which will not only be shown in the widescreen format but will contain six extra minutes – though it’s a bit unclear, at least at the moment, whether that time is along with, or simply includes, the announced overture and intermission. The “regular version” of the film already clocks in at three hours and two minutes.
So why is this news? And what does 70mm projection even mean?
Put simply, 70mm is, or at least has been up to this point, like most film projection in general, largely considered an obsolete format.
For most of film history, the most widely used format both for filming and for projecting, has been 35mm film. That measure has to do with the width of each frame of film. Obviously, since the film frame is larger, it also allows for a larger aspect ratio (the measure of comparison of the width of the screen to its height) to be used when projecting the film. Tarantino’s Hateful Eight was shot to take advantage of this wider aspect ratio.
Now I’m not going to get into a full discussion/explanation of aspect ratio here – for now, we’ll just stick to those basics – but here’s a very quick comparison using different common aspect ratios.
The use of the still from Ben Hur in the last picture is significant, because the lenses that Tarantino used to shoot Hateful Eight are the same ones that were used to shoot that 1959 extravaganza, which was the first film shot using the 70mm Panavision process.
Of course, now that most theaters have gone digital and most “projectionists” are really just glorified button pushers, there is a second challenge involved in showing the 70mm format Hateful Eight properly, and that is that not only have the theaters that are going to be showing it had to be retrofitted with the proper equipment (at a reported cost of around $80,000 per screen), but their projection staff have had to be trained in the proper use of this equipment. In some cases, this has meant Weinstein sending people to train staff already on site, and in other cases they will simply be sending already trained projectionists to the theaters to run the projectors themselves.
Still, even with 100 screens showing this special version of The Hateful Eight, that’s really just a drop in the bucket when it’s compared to the number of other screens that will be showing the film come Christmastime, meaning most of us won’t have a chance to see it in this format (unless you’re willing to make a road-trip of it to do so), but nonetheless now that the investment has been made one has to hope that other film makers will be willing to step up and take advantage of the proposition of making new and exciting films using this close-to-extinct technology.
Unfortunately, for a lot of today’s movie makers who themselves have no training in the use of actual film to shoot their movies, much less the eye and vision to make the most of the format, it would be a waste of time and resources for them to even try. Nonetheless, the Weinsteins have stated that they are currently listening to proposals from film makers who wish to take advantage of the investment.
The other bit of news is the announcement that The Hateful Eight is going to receive it’s own comics treatment. Of course, this in itself isn’t really big news, as this is something that is done – well, perhaps not all the time, but enough that the news of an adaptation isn’t really “news”. Marvel Comics, thanks to their connections with Disney who also own the Star Wars rights have been recently putting out comic books related to the upcoming The Force Awakens in such mass quantities that it would seem that just keeping up with the output would be daunting except to the most hardcore fan, and even Tarantino’s last film, Django Unchained received its own comic book adaptation, along with at least one spin-off.
No, what makes this Hateful Eight adaptation unique is the venue in which it’s going to be presented.
It’s going to be published in Playboy magazine.
That’s right, the December issue of the magazine (which also will, coincidentally, be the last issue of the magazine to contain fully-nude photos) will feature an eight page comics preview of the film.
The adaptation, written by Tarantino himself and illustrated by Zach Meyer, one page of which you can see here, pulls no punches at least as far as language goes, and it’s also not going to cool the fervor of those who like to characterize QT’s movies as misogynistic.
For those of you who don’t want to spend the money on the magazine just to see this adaptation, or for those who are uncomfortable buying the magazine for whatever reason – personally I think “I’m just buying it for the comic” is just as valid a pretense as “I only buy it for the articles”, something I suppose will have to be said in less defensive tones soon, the full thing can be seen here.
So there you go – two very different and interesting ways that Tarantino is vying to bring attention to his new film. Honestly, I’ve been on board for this one from the time it was announced – heck, I’m just looking forward to seeing him take another stab at revitalizing the Western genre – so in a way all of this is just bonus. Still, it’s great to see someone – even someone as potentially controversial and potentially divisive as Tarantino – trying new ways to bring added attention to what is increasingly seeming a more and more moribund movie system and challenging not only himself but other film makers and audiences to once again expand the way they think about and experience film, something I can only consider a positive move.
Once again, here’s a trailer for the movie: