Poll: Do You Want to See Tarantino’s ‘Hateful Eight’ in 70mm?

Second only to his fetish for women’s feet, Quentin Tarantino has a major hard-on for watching movies projected from celluloid film. For his new Western ‘The Hateful Eight’, Tarantino shot the movie in the rarely-used Super Panavision 70 format and has pressured the Weinstein Company into releasing an exclusive roadshow engagement on 70mm film in selected theaters. Are you hoping to see what all the fuss is about?

This is no small endeavor. The National Association of Theater Owners says that 97% of cinema screens across the United States have switched from film to digital projection. Digital is far easier to operate and maintain, and has much more consistent quality from one screening to the next with no fear of a physical film print getting scratched or eaten up inside the projector. The situation is much the same throughout the rest of the world. Few theaters today are equipped to project movies on film at all, much less have professional projectionists knowledgeable or skilled enough to do so. Add to that the complications of 70mm projection, which requires very specialized projector equipment and comes on much larger and heavier film reels than the standard 35mm format, and this seems like a fool’s quest.

Nonetheless, a small cadre of filmmakers, Tarantino chief among them, continue to insist that projected celluloid has a magical quality that can’t be reproduced in digital. The 70mm roadshow engagement for ‘The Hateful Eight’ will open on Christmas Day on 96 screens in the United States. According to the New York Times, the cost of installing the necessary 70mm equipment could be as much as $80,000 per each of those theaters.

Determined to make this a special event, Tarantino is going all-out with the roadshow version, which will add an overture and an intermission, as well as being a different edit of the movie than the standard theatrical release. Reportedly, it will include some different footage and longer takes to allow the audience to bask in the glory of the flickering 70mm format.

So, where can you see it this way? The In70mm.com web site is compiling a list of participating theaters. The list doesn’t yet have 96 entries, which suggests that this is still a work in progress as more theaters confirm their plans. Already, however, I see two theaters near me, one of which I have frequented often.

[Update: This ticketing site appears to be the best way to track participating theaters.]

A better question, perhaps, is whether a 70mm screening is really worth the effort. Advance screenings of the movie have played for critics and some industry groups. Over at Hitflix, writer Drew McWeeny (better known as “Moriarty” from Ain’t It Cool News) recounts the story of a disastrous screening in which a portion of the 70mm image drifted in and out of focus, eventually forcing the theater to switch to digital projection for the second half of the movie. Even more embarrassing, McWeeny says that the movie looked much better in digital than it did on film.

“Here’s the really awful part, the thing that I feel bad writing: once they switched over to the digital projection, it looked better. And not just in that one out-of-focus spot, either. Robert Richardson has done some of the best work of his career while working with Tarantino, and looking at the film’s second half, we were given a reference-copy look at Richardson’s work. Because the 70MM lens was simply not working right, that overall softness could not communicate the rich burnished-leather look of the film. In the fuzzy first half, many of the details of Minnie’s Haberdashery, the isolated mountain roadhouse where most of the film takes place, were lost in that vaguely focused background. In the second half, it felt like you could explore every corner of that amazing set, and it also brought all of those great faces into sharp focus. It really was night and day in all the most important ways.”

Personally, I tend to be format agnostic in the Film vs. Digital debate โ€“ at least as far as either is concerned as a photographic capture medium. I’ve seen beautiful movies shot on film and beautiful movies shot digitally. Depending on what the director is trying to achieve, I can see the value of shooting on film. When it comes to theatrical projection, however, my nostalgia for film prints has long since faded.

Would I go to see ‘The Hateful Eight’ in 70mm? I have to admit that I’m curious about it, and one of the participating theaters is convenient to me. Unfortunately, with two young toddlers at home, I don’t get out to the theater much these days โ€“ and quite frankly, I haven’t thought very highly of Tarantino’s last couple of movies. I’m not sure that I want to see this one at all. If I do, I’ll probably wait for Blu-ray.

Sorry Quentin.

How Will You See 'The Hateful Eight'?

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  1. Chris B

    I’d love to see a 70mm showing but there’s none aroud where I live. I even went as far as calling the biggest theatre in Calgary to see if there were any plans to show it and no dice. They screened “Interstellar” in 70mm when it was released so I was hoping for theyd do the same for this one. If I had more money and less responsibilites I’d probably fly to Vancouver and watch it there. I have lots of friends in that city and could make a good trip out of it but alas, it’s not to be. I’ll be watching it on opening weekend in digital. Oh well, at least I’ll have The Revenant coming out on Christmas Day to tide me over….

  2. Csm101

    I chose,”not picky”, but would’ve also chosen” favorite theater.”
    I would like to see the longer cut, but feel like I’m being forced to see it in 70mm just for that. Maybe it would be simpler on bluray and hopefully it will include the longer cut or both cuts. I didn’t see anything near me on the list as of yet, but I’m not exactly dying to see this movie. I always hear that nothing compares to experiencing a film on the big screen in 70mm, so just to scratch my itchy curiosity, I would like to see it for myself and see if that holds true. Can anyone answer me this, wouldn’t a high quality digital replica of the 70mm prints be just as good? Maybe it doesn’t work that way, what does the 70mm offer that a super high resolution digital replica doesn’t in terms of detail and color reproduction?

    • Josh Zyber

      Objectively, 4k digital projection has been proven to resolve more detail than 70mm projection, and newer High Dynamic Range projectors will have better contrast as well. Tarantino’s love of the film medium is mostly based on nostalgia, plus that elusive, magical “je ne sais quoi” he feels watching light shine through a piece of celluloid.

    • Chris B

      I remember saw Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm and I wasn’t bowled over but the image quality. Then again I may be subconciously biased because the movie bored the shit out of me.

        • Chris B

          Lol, it seems like there are some movies that you’re just not allowed to diss. I’m sorry if you have a raging hard-on for David Lean’s desert yawn-a-thon. Some of us don’t ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • William Henley

        If it makes you feel any better, I think the movie is overrated. I am not saying its bad, I’m just saying I don’t think it is as good as everyone makes it out to be. And the movie is like an hour and a half too long. Once again, its not that I don’t like long movies, but this movie could have been told in about 1/2 to 2/3rds of its running time.

        But on top of all of that, I’ve seen the movie twice and still do not understand the story, and I have no interest in seeing it a third time. I think both times I saw it, I ended up sleeping through part of the movie, I was so bored.

  3. Hey Josh, I would book a babysitter (Rosalyn, from Bill Watterson’s universe, for example) and go see the 70mm version. Just because you can ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s an event (even if an underwhelming one). Non-Americans don’t get this chance. You can brag about this, later in life. “I saw a 70mm screening”. You may regret it if you miss this.

    • Hey, don’t speak for all non-Americans ๐Ÿ˜‰

      In Oslo, Norway, The Norwegian Film Institute has an annual 70mm festival, late January. With a bit of luck Hateful 8 could be on the 2016 program. This year, they showed Interstellar, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, South Pacific, Oklahoma, War and Peace (8hr Russian version), Patton, Kelly’s Heroes, Out of Africa, El Cid, Earthquake (with sensurround), The Bear, Samsara, and The Master. They even showed Porgy and Bess a few years ago.

      Earlier this year, though, the Norwegian government suggested to cut funding for the Film Institute, and sell off their properties, including the cinema. The Film Institute doesn’t need to operate a cinema of their own, they claimed. If they want to put on a movie occasionally, they could just rent any of the commercial cinemas for a few hours. Luckily, the ruling parties does not have a majority in the Parliament, and it seems that this proposal is dead for now.

      • Awesome. One more reason why Norway (the country, the ideas, the intentions, the ideals) just works. Sweden works just as well. There must be something in the Scandinavian waters that forces the countries to make good decisions.

        • Trond Michelsen

          Wohoo!!! \o/

          It’s confirmed today that the 70mm version of Hateful 8 will play from 8th to 18th of January in Oslo ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Muttley

    I’m torn on this one…while I think that it’s important to view a film as the director intended, I also want to see the best possible presentation of a film possible.

    In this case, it seems that the two philosophies are at odds.

    Maybe it comes down to the material…all things being equal (IE the cuts of the movies would be the same) I think I would chose the 4K digital route every time…However, for the Hateful Eight, the 70mm version seems like it’s the statement that Tarantino really wants to make. It’s not just about the content, but the presentation and the spectacle, so I’m inclined to seek out the 70mm film presentation if it’s semi-convenient.

    Knowing myself and my situation though, I’ll probably end up seeing this one on Blu like most of the other movies I watch. :-\

  5. David Staschke

    I’m so torn on this issue. Before I get into why, let me just say that I am DEFINITELY seeing this in 70mm because the Music Box here in Chicago is playing it. Now, why I’m torn:

    I can state with certainty that seeing a movie properly projected on 70mm film is astonishing and an experience like no other. It is unequivocally superior to the best digital projection available today. I never see a movie more than twice in the theater, but I saw The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar 5 times each, not because I enjoyed the movies, but because the 70mm IMAX presentations kept me coming back for more. There’s something about how the image hits your optic nerves and gets absorbed into your brain that is pure magic. I was lucky enough to see 2001: A Space Odyssey projected on film once and it was the single greatest film-going experience of my life.

    Now here are the downsides: Film is just not practical anymore. Yes, its better, but its not practical and the people who care about it are just a select few and they are dying off by the hour. For the film vs. digital debate, I like to use the example of Skyping a friend or relative who lives hundreds of miles away as opposed to visiting them in person. Yes, spending time with them in person instead of on Skype is BETTER, but its not practical (both financially and time-wise) so we use Skype or a phone call. But on those rare occasions you make the trip out to see them (much like I’m making the to trip to a theater that’s an hour away to see The Hateful Eight, when it will be playing down the street from my house).

    The second thing that bothers me is this nostalgic love for film. I love Tarantino and Christopher Nolan, but they sound like dinosaurs and hipsters when they talk about keeping film alive. And let’s be honest, they kind of ARE hipstery dinosaurs. Tarantino still listens to music on vinyl and Nolan doesn’t own a cell phone or use email. I’m sorry but, much like your homophobic uncle, these kinds of people are a dying breed and the world has moved on.

    Nostalgia belongs in your memories and shouldn’t be shoehorned into the modern world. I feel sorry for the theaters that are spending so much much money to install the 70mm film projectors. After The Hateful Eight, what are they supposed to do with them? A small mom and pop theater out here in the northern Chicago suburbs is struggling to make the payments on the digital projectors they had installed recently out of necessity because the studios won’t ship film prints to them anymore. Now some theater owners are being told to go BACK to film? Imagine the frustration.

    I’m 32 years old, I grew up on film projection, VHS tapes, and audio cassettes. Sure I have nostalgia for those things, but that nostalgia is reserved for wistful, drunken, late night conversations with old friends and family about yesteryear. Its 2015. I’m listening to music on an iPod, watching movies on blu-ray and digital streaming, and typing into a comment section of a blog instead of mailing a paper letter to magazine column.

    • Josh Zyber

      I think we should draw a distinction between IMAX 15/70 and the traditional 70mm that this movie will be using. IMAX 15/70 has a much larger film frame and is photographed using much larger cameras.

      • David Staschke

        Yeah, I should have specified that. But I saw 2001 in traditional 70mm and it was just as impressive, or still more impressive than anything I’ve seen projected digitally.

    • I agree with your post, but not with this: “Tarantino still listens to music on vinyl and Nolan doesnโ€™t own a cell phone or use email. Iโ€™m sorry but, much like your homophobic uncle, these kinds of people are a dying breed and the world has moved on.” I think it’s unfair to compare being homophobic (which is a shame) to prefering nostalgia (which is acceptable). A lot of people (including myself) buy and listen to vinyl, and I actually envy people without a cell phone or an e-mail account. I get so tired of the constant (self-induded) pressure and fear of missing out.

      Other than that, as I said, great post and I agree with your points.

      • David Staschke

        Thank you for pointing that out. Perhaps I was being a bit hyperbolic with that comparison. I should clarify: I was in no way trying to say that using old technology is on par with homophobia, more so that they are both out-dated mindsets from a bygone era. They are things that don’t really have a place in modern society, and the places they do have are niche markets. Homophobia is shameful and socially unacceptable, whereas fondness for old tech is only socially quirky/fringe. I was merely using homophobia as an example of how the culture as a whole has shifted.

        I also think vinyl sounds great, but I mostly listen to music in my car or at work so it’s not really a viable option for me. I would absolutely love to not have a cell phone, but texting is the only way certain friends and family want to communicate nowadays. And my job requires me to have an email account as does many institutions at which i pay bills or get information and entertainment from. But, much like you, I hate the fact that people are on their phones all the damn time. That is one thing I wish would stop, but it never will and its only getting worse. If cell phone technology were a person the Joker would say to it, “You’ve changed things…. forever. There’s no going back.”

        • I just read an obituary on Douglas Tompkins, and he said: “I don’t want a cell phone. I don’t need a microwave next to my ears all the time.” He was the head of two multi-million dollar corporations. You’d think he would need a cell phone 24/7, but apparently, he could do without. Kudos to his perseverance. Nice Joker comparison, by the way ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Bolo

    I don’t have strong feelings about film vs digital. My eyes really can’t detect a difference in the presentation on any film made this century. In this case though, there is a difference in the cut of the film and that’s the deciding factor. Tarantino himself sounds more in love with the 70mm cut, so that’s the cut I want to see.

    Honestly, the trailers for this film look bloody awful. If Tarantino’s name wasn’t on it, I’d probably have no interest. But I know his films are always deceptively marketed because his strengths as a filmmaker are hard to fit in to short trailers. So who knows, the film might not be very good, in which case I will only ever see it once, so I might as well see Tarantino’s preferred vision.

  7. photogdave

    You bet your ass I’m going to watch this bad boy in 70mm! Seeing a movie in 70mm is a unique experience – even in the days of regular 35mm projection! Can a 4K digital projection be technically better? Quite possibly but it’s not the same thing. I rarely go to the cinema anymore because the quality of the digital projections around here is pretty spotty. The films often look dull and flat. Not to mention the annoyances of today’s movie-going audience. You can’t leave your stupid phone alone for a couple of hours? I’m hoping this road show experience will attract true movie fans who will turn their gadgets off and shut the hell up for a while so we can all enjoy the show.
    (It’s annoying that theatres actually encourage the use of phones before the feature starts by asking the audience to participate in interactive texting games.)
    As for it being a Tarantino film – meh…I loved Inglorious Bastards but was just whelmed by Django. Disliked Kill Bill enough that I still haven’t seen Vol. 2 yet. Death Proof was a wasted opportunity but Pulp Fiction, Dogs, True Romance – all classics!
    And as far as hipster dinosaurs go – count me in. I’ll take quality over convenience any day. Yes I listen to vinyl (I never stopped when CDs came out), and I still shoot photos on film (in the long run it’s less costly and time consuming than digital, and the equipment is higher quality). I guess I’ll send Nolan a telegraph because I don’t own a cell phone either. My 1940s bakelite rotary phone works great, has excellent sound quality and doesn’t require batteries. I don’t feel I’m missing out on much because I walk through life with my head help up, taking in what’s happening around me, instead of hunched over a tiny screen pretending to interact.

      • photogdave

        Digital video editing is a godsend! I use my DSLR for movies more than photos. I used to shoot and scan Super 8 to mix with the digital video but sadly the local lab closed down.
        I’ll gladly use whatever new technology is practical and high quality but being new doesn’t automatically equal better!

        • David Staschke

          I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I still deal with my cumbersome 3,000+ blu-ray collection instead of a UV library because the A/V quality is so much better on blu-ray. I care more about quality than convenience if availability isn’t an issue and the prices are commensurate.

    • Chris B

      Not to be a dick but… True Romance isn’t a Tarantino movie. He wrote the screenplay but it was directed by Tony Scott. It’s not part of his official canon.

      • photogdave

        It’s a Tarantino movie to me – and all the better for Scott having directed it!
        (Besides, Alabama is supposed to be the same person mentioned in Dogs. I don’t really care about the canon of the so-called Tarantino universe either way.)

        • Chris B

          Lol, I have this same argument with a friend all the time. If it WAS a Tarantino movie it would have the whole signature “The nth film by Quentin Tarantino” at the beginning, but it doesn’t, so it’s not.

          • David Staschke

            I think it counts as half of a Tarantino movie. His voice is definitely evident in it. Its basically a Tarantino film through the eyes of Tony Scott. If he had publicly disowned the final product (like he did with Natural Born Killers), then I would say it doesn’t count. True Romance is half his baby. On the commentary he said the only thing he would’ve changed was the chronological order of the edit. Even his song choices that were written into the script were used. So can we all agree is 0.5 a Tarantino film?

  8. pmacejewski

    I have full confidence that the 70mm showing that I’ll attend will in some way be compromised compared to the digital theater one door over. That said, 70mm projection is something that simply isn’t regularly available in my area and I’m a sucker for novelty.

    They sure are making a big deal about Ultra Panavision and its 2.76:1 aspect ratio, but seriously how many theaters will that be a true positive in? 1.85:1 screens in multiplexes aren’t going to become magically wider to show this movie. The impact will be lost.

  9. William Henley

    I chose ‘I have no interest in seeing this movie”. I have seen 4 of Tarantino’s movies, one I walked out of, the other three didn’t impress me. I wouldn’t say they were bad movies, they just were not my thing. All of his movies seem to have similar styles and themes, and its just not my thing.

    Now, if I was interested in it, I would probably go see it in 70mm. It is almost bragging rights to do this. I ditched my best friend for Interstellar because he wanted to see it in digital – I saw it in Imax Film and 70mm. And I saw Harry Potter 3-6 on Imax Film, as well as Batman Begins and Kill Bill Volume 2 and Superman Returns and Fantasia 2000.

    Pretty much, if there is an Imax Film or 70mm showing, I will usually see it like that.

  10. Thulsadoom

    I like the idea of seeing a new movie on genuine old-school film, but quite frankly I’m with William. I’m just not a Tarantino fan. I’ve never seen a film of his I liked. I know that’s tantamount to blasphemy in film-fan circles, but I’m afraid it’s true. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The shame is that I’m a big Kurt Russel fan, and it’s a shame to see him lowering himself to working with Tarantino.

  11. Scott

    Just bought my tickets for the Christmas night showing in Atlanta. Somehow convinced my wife that we needed to drive five hours (that’s the closest theater showing the Roadshow version) roundtrip on Christmas Day to go see a movie. She agreed, obviously I picked a good one to get married to. Helps that she loves Tarantino just about as much as I do. It’ll be a true event and I’m really looking forward to it!

  12. Scott

    As mentioned before, went last night to a showing of The Hateful Eight in Atlanta. Living as I do in Greenville, SC the drive each way to Atlanta is about 135 minutes or so. In hindsight The Hateful Eight is not a movie worth driving 270 minutes and roughly the same amount of miles for.

    That said, I am glad that I did go. Yes, we got cool little programs that will always remind me of the experience and are surely unique. Yes, it did feel like an event as we had to stand in line for quite a while and the crowd was into it.

    However… I felt as though this was a weak effort for QT. The movie was way too long and there were way too many things that I saw coming from way too far away.

    The 70mm was very pretty. There was much detail to be had in each and every frame. We purposely sat close to the front so that I could analyze each and every shot. I thoroughly enjoyed the 2.76:1 aspect ratio. Having to literally move your head in order to see each side of the frame was a treat and for the first part of the movie it was worth it to see the gorgeous vistas.

    However… I felt that for the duration of the movie that took place in Minnies Haberdashery the uber wide screen was wasted. Why tease us with those grand shots to then be thrust into nothing but a confined space? Other than one fun story describing someone wanting a blanket and ending up with a black sausage in their mouth, the rest of the movie all took place in doors.

    And… after the intermission the image got very fuzzy in the middle of the frame. I’m not a projectionist, so I don’t know the proper terms, but it seemed that there was a portion of the frame that got really “jumpy” and bounced around a lot, it also appeared as though it was blooming or pumping something of that nature as the image became very difficult to look at.

    So in closing, a bit of a snorer. The event was fun, however the execution was lacking. Yes, there is a reason we have progressed to digital projection, however I would be totally cool with aspect ratios wider than 2.39:1.

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