It Could Cost Theaters $80,000 A Screen To Show ‘The Hateful Eight’ In 70mm

If you’re Quentin Tarantino, you can’t put a price on spectacle. If you’re a theater owner who wants to show Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight in its intended 70mm, you may be thinking “Oh crap, I have to pay a really big price for spectacle.”

According to a new New York Times article, Tarantino wants to open The Hateful Eight on 100 North American screens using 70mm projection (96 in the U.S. and four in Canada), something that hasn’t been done since 1992.

Last year, “Interstellar” opened in 70 millimeter at only 11 comparable locations. There were only 16 in 2012 for “The Master,” which renewed interested in the format.

The Weinstein Company has gone as far as hiring an outside company to find and refurbish 70mm projection systems to try to hit the 100 number. Which, by all accounts, isn’t going to be cheap.

Justin Dennis, the principal engineer at Kinora, a Chicago company that specializes in movie theater installations, noted the difficulty of setting a price for equipment that is no longer manufactured. He hazarded that he might charge $60,000 to $80,000 per screen to get the system up and running, not counting any costs for labor at the theater.

Labor won’t be a simple matter either. The company hired by the Weinstein Company, Boston Light & Sound, will also handle training projectionists, who are being asked to achieve things that have either never been done, or haven’t been done in some of their lifetimes.

“The Hateful Eight” is not just any 70-millimeter movie: It is only the 10th feature to make full use of shooting in Ultra Panavision, an extra-wide format, but it will actually have the technology’s largest opening in terms of screen numbers. [NYTimes]

The last film shot in Ultra Panavision, notes the article, was Khartoum, in 1966.

Now, it may seem a little hypocritical to bag on the Project Greenlight guy for demanding to shoot his movie on film and then lionize Quentin Tarantino for reviving an extravagantly expensive, nearly-dead format, but he’s also doing almost exactly what Christopher Nolan was stumping for in his op-ed on the future of cinema last year (also, the Project Greenlight guy was demanding film for a movie that was going direct to TV):

The theaters of the future will be bigger and more beautiful than ever before. They will employ expensive presentation formats that cannot be accessed or reproduced in the home (such as, ironically, film prints). And they will still enjoy exclusivity, as studios relearn the tremendous economic value of the staggered release of their products.

It’s not just about dorking out on old formats or being the film equivalent of a “vinyl only” hipster, it’s about creating extravagant presentation that not even people’s 60-inch flatscreen can match, to give them reason to come back to theaters.

These developments will require innovation, experimentation and expense, not cost-cutting exercises disguised as digital “upgrades” or gimmickry aimed at justifying variable ticket pricing. The theatrical window is to the movie business what live concerts are to the music business—and no one goes to a concert to be played an MP3 on a bare stage. [WallStreetJournal]

Hear hear. And Ultra Panavision has an aspect ratio of 2.76:1, which sounds perfect for depicting ladies’ feet, especially the sexy extra long ones. I know Tarantino’s cocaine wizard long-time cinematographer Robert Richards is up for it.

The Hateful Eight opens Christmas day. The Weinstein Company says an announcement of the theaters showing The Hateful Eight in 70mm is due any minute.

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