The last time a Quentin Tarantino film was released in theaters, the year was 2012 and the movie in question was Django Unchained. Tarantino's vintage western/blaxploitation-inspired tale about a slave who sets out to rescue his wife (and taken revenge against his former captors in the process) was a box office success that netted Tarantino another Oscar for his screenplay. Hence, expectations remain high as ever for his new original project, in the form of The Hateful Eight.
Hateful Eight is another western, albeit one that revolves around a premise resembling the setup for Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. The script by Tarantino takes place some years after the end of the Civil War, where eight strangers all wind up trapped in the same mountainside establishment by a blizzard. However, as a Hateful Eight teaser released in theaters last year puts it, the characters soon learn they shared a "deadly connection," and it's only a matter of time before tensions erupt into bloodshed.
Tarantino filmed Hateful Eight in 70 mm (something highlighted by the movie's marketing to date), and it's for that reason that The Weinstein Company has announced it will unveil the western exclusively in 70mm theaters on Christmas Day 2015 (three years exactly after Django opened), before Hateful Eight begins its regular theatrical release two weeks later. Here is the official statement from TWC president of theatrical distribution and home entertainment, Erik Lomis, on the decision:
“Our long relationship with Quentin Tarantino is one of the cornerstones of this company, so it’s incredibly special to us to be releasing his latest film in such a spectacular way on 70mm – we can’t think of a finer Christmas gift to be giving movie lovers and Tarantino fans this year."
TWC has long made it clear that Hateful Eight - starring several longtime Tarantino collaborators (like Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson) along with a handful of notable newcomers to the Tarantino world of cinema (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Channing Tatum) - would open in theaters before 2015 draws to a close, if only so the movie will be able to qualify for awards season consideration in the first quarter of 2016. Nonetheless, the limited 70mm release is unexpected and offers further proof that Tarantino did indeed have a real artistic purpose for shooting Hateful Eight in that format.
The 2015 Christmas holiday frame is going to be a busy one for movies, with films ranging from J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens to David O. Russell's biopic Joy (as well the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler comedy Sisters), among others, playing in theaters. Hateful Eight should benefit from the slow rollout for that reason, allowing it the time to potentially build up good buzz from its 70 mm showings, before it goes into wide release when the competition isn't as strong. (That's not to say Tarantino's film could end up pulling an American Sniper at the box office, but still...)
Between the talented cast, the good buzz surrounding the script, the intriguing choice of retro visual style, and Tarantino being at the helm, there's a lot about Hateful Eight that sounds promising. For now, we're just glad the filmmaker changed his mind about canceling the project, after an early script draft was leaked much earlier than Tarantino would've preferred.
The Hateful Eight opens in 70 mm theaters on December 25th, 2015. It begins a regular theatrical release on January 8th, 2016.