One of the traditions of awards season is for certain contenders to first open in a limited capacity before expanding wide once they've generated some positive buzz. Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight will be following that strategy this year, with a special 70mm "Roadshow" version of the film playing at 100 locations across the country this Christmas, before 35mm and digital prints debut nationwide.
Originally, The Weinstein Company had planned to expand The Hateful Eight on January 8, 2016, but they've now decided to push that up a week. Moviegoers will be able to ring in the New Year with Tarantino, since his latest production will be available for all to see on January 1, 2016.
The news comes courtesy of Deadline, who report that the plan is to feature The Hateful Eight in as many theaters as possible January 1, before adding more locations the following weekend. Their decision was spurred by early positive reactions to the film, leading them to believe it could find success in the busy holiday movie season. The move also allows Hateful Eight to avoid a head-to-head competition with fellow Oscar hopeful, The Revenant, which will be going wide on January 8. The Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle has been generating substantial buzz throughout the month and has quickly become one of the more anticipated films of the season.
UPDATE: It turns out The Hateful Eight will actually go wide on New Year's Eve. Here is the official announcement from The Weinstein Company:
The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that Academy Award® winning writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming feature THE HATEFUL EIGHT, will premiere in 70mm on December 25, 2015 exclusively for a 1-week roadshow opening that will be featured in glorious 70mm in 100 theaters nationwide. Following the 1-week engagement, the film will open with a theatrical digital release nationwide on December 31, 2015, while continuing to be shown in 70mm as well.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out for The Hateful Eight. The multiplex will be very crowded in the coming weeks, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens dominating screens, and "smaller" works like Concussion, Joy, and others fighting for what's left. The Weinstein Company is banking on the Tarantino brand, and history has given them plenty of reasons to be confident. His previous films Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained both grossed over $100 million at the domestic box office, indicating the auteur is a major commercial draw.
Furthermore, The Hateful Eight has already made an impression on the awards circuit, recently being named one of the National Board of Review's best movies of the year and scoring three Golden Globe nominations. The other dramas that will be playing around this time have mostly been ignored by these groups (with the exception of Adam McKay's The Big Short), giving The Hateful Eight another edge in terms of appealing to casual audiences. As viewers move on from Star Wars (or are looking for another option after being sold out), an acclaimed film from the mind of Quentin Tarantino would be a nice consolation prize.
Going wide on New Year's Eve instead of Christmas (where four new wide releases open against the second week of Star Wars 7) should be beneficial, since it gives The Hateful Eight some breathing room from the blitz of late December movies. It's also smart that the studio is keen on dodging the expansion of The Revenant. Adult moviegoers are interested in both and now no longer have to choose between the two. Each drama will get its moment to shine and have a weekend to itself, which should allow both to be profitable as Oscar talk heats up.
The Hateful Eight will open in limited release on Christmas Day before expanding wide December 31st, 2015.
Update Source: The Weinstein Company