Five takeaways from Quentin Tarantino and ‘The Hateful Eight’

SAN DIEGO – Quentin Tarantino returned to Comic-Con Saturday after a triumphant “debut” for “Django Unchained” in 2012.  Actually, the Oscar-winning filmmaker has been to the convention many times, but usually just as an attendee.* Today Tarantino was on hand to talk about his upcoming thriller “The Hateful Eight” and begin what will clearly be a significant publicity push to inform moviegoers of its roadshow release (more on that later).

*Tarantino revealed he was at Comic-Con two years ago, but wore a mask to disguise himself. He spent his time filling out the holes in his comic book collection on the convention floor.

Along with Tarantino the Hall H panel featured a majority of “The Hateful Eight” cast including Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern. Longtime Tarantino collaborator Samuel L. Jackson couldn't make it in person, but was a part of a featurette that explained what a “roadshow” is and how rare the movie's 70 MM release is these days.  

A significant amount of “Eight” footage screened at a Cannes press event in May, but Tarantino made sure the Comic-Con crowd got their own special version.  Along with his editor, Tarantino spent a few days earlier this week cutting a brand new seven-minute preview.  It set up the film's premise (a bunch of 19th century bounty hunters, criminals and scoundrels take refuge in a stagecoach stopover during a massive blizzard) and gave each of the “Eight” a moment in the spotlight.  Bob Richardson's widescreen compositions certainly look gorgeous and the movie looks slightly funnier than the Cannes footage.  A majority of the movie does take place in one location, however, and we're still concerned the end result will feel slightly claustrophobic.  That being said the audience was into it.

Unlike “Django's” hour-long set three years ago, “Eight's” Comic-Con life was significantly shorter.  Tarantino still ruled the dais (Roth and Jason Leigh spoke once), but here are the major takeaways.

Tarantino is very excited about “Hateful's” 70 MM release
The “Hateful Eight” roadshow will find the movie screening in about 100 or so theaters (or that's the goal) that are 70 mm projection.  And, before you get concerned there will eventually be a traditionally release in 3,000 or so theaters. The roadshow engagements will likely include an intermission and audiences will receive a physical program. None of this was part of Tarantino's original plan. “We were first just looking for scope, 70 MM lenses. The biggest format available.”  It turns out the lenses they needed to shoot in what was called Panivision Ultra (70 MM) are the same ones used for “Ben Hur,” “Mutiny on the Bounty” and “It's A Mad, Mad World.”  Tarantino was afraid they might freeze up during the film's frigidly cold shoot, but could not stop praising his camera department for always having them ready to go.

Maybe Quentin just does 10 movies and…3 mini-series?
Tarantino has spent a good chunk of the past year responding to questions about his supposed declaration he would stop directing after 10 films.  A fan asks for clarification and, well, Tarantino still isn't sure what he'll do. He notes, “That wasn't a mission statement than me trying to have a serious conversation about an artist's validity in public which wasn't a good thing to do. I do like the idea of 10 and done. There is something neat about that.”

Noting that he only does three films or so a decade that means he'll be behind the camera well into the 2020's.  Then again, “We'll see what happens. I might say, 'The hell with that and do 15.'”

Tarantino continues, “Digital projection is jut HBO in public. If that's what movies become than I can just move to television. Maybe there [are] 10 movies and three mini-series in the future. Except for 'Kill Bill' all my scripts get cut down anyway. If I can just write something that's eight hours and make it that's all good.”

Quentin has at least one more Western in him
A fan wanted to know if Tarantino considers himself a Western director yet.  Tarantino has some specific thoughts on the subject.  “When it come to Westerns, not in the old days when people made 20 or 25, nowadays you need to make three Westerns to call yourself a Western director. I will eventually make three Westerns so I can eventually call myself a Western director so I can throw them on a table and see where I stand.”

Yes, Tarantino was pissed about the “Hateful Eight” script leak, but…
The filmmaker's public rant about the online leak of the “Hateful Eight” screenplay is well documented, but it might have been slightly for show.  While he pursued legal litigation (or kept threatening too) it didn't stop his process. He notes, “Normally I'm ready to go into production. This one I wanted to go through three drafts. There were certain plot threads I wasn't ready to wrap up yet. My process was my process that even though I yelled and screamed about I kept moving forward with it. It went on the way it would, it just got more public.”

A true legend will be scoring the flick
Tarantino had one big surprise to announce at the end of the panel. Tarantino traditionally avoids using original music to score his films.  Not this time around.  The legendary Ennio Morricone will compose the score for “Eight” and it will be his first Western in 40 years. That's a big deal people.

“The Hateful Eight” opens in limited release on Christmas Day.