LOS ANGELES • When Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is released in a special roadshow version (with overture, intermission and additional footage) on Dec 25, it will represent a feat worthy of the heist in the director’s Jackie Brown (1997).
The Western, starring Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson, is scheduled to open on 96 screens in the United States and four in Canada, all in 70mm projection, a premium format associated with extravaganzas of the 1950s and 1960s. (The film is facing calls for a police boycott because of Tarantino’s recent remarks about police violence.)
Yet from a theatrical standpoint, the technology is nearly obsolete.
Last year, space drama Interstellar opened in 70mm at only 11 locations. There were only 16 in 2012 for The Master, with Philip Seymour Hoffman playing a charismatic religious leader.Nofilm has opened with 10070mm prints since 1992.
Over a 1½-year period, The Weinstein Company, which will distribute the film, arranged for old projectors to be procured and refurbished and new lenses to be made for theatres.
“The charge we got from Weinstein was that we needed to be prepared to do 100 screens,” said Mr Chapin Cutler of Boston Light & Sound, the company hired to assemble the projectors.
He found some worn-out machines in theatres and bought others from service companies. Some projectors dated to the 1950s. Gears, shafts, bearings and rollers had to be replaced, or the pieces had to be made anew, based on original blueprints.
The Hateful Eight is not just any 70mm 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.
The lenses produce an extremely wide image. Think of mid-century movies Ben-Hur (1959) and It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).
Before The Hateful Eight, the last Ultra Panavision feature was Khartoum in 1966.
NEW YORK TIMES