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Quentin Tarantino Ditches Digital and Takes Over Programming at New Beverly

Quentin Tarantino Ditches Digital and Takes Over Programming at New Beverly

Quentin Tarantino is not only a rabid defender of 35 mm as the best medium for shooting films, but for projecting them in theaters as well. While Christopher Nolan and others agree that celluloid cameras are still superior to the highest HD, most industry professionals understand that the story is over for 35 mm projection in this country. It’s done.

But not for Tarantino’s New Beverly. The landlord of the venerable Los Angeles repertory cinema is so anti-digital (see Cannes press conference) that he pulled out the digital projector installed without his knowledge alongside the 35 mm projectors last June by Michael Torgan, who’s been running New Beverly’s day-to-day theater operations since his father Sherman died in 2007.

When Tarantino found out about the digital projector, he decided it had to go– and so it will. And now Tarantino tells LA Weekly that he will not only ditch digital, but he will also assume Torgan’s role as Head Programmer. "[Torgan]’s really done a Herculean job. But after seven years as owner, I wanted to make it mine."

"Now’s the time to do it. I want the New Beverly to be a bastion for 35 millimeter films. I want it to stand for something. When you see a film on the New Beverly calendar, you don’t have to ask whether it’s going to be shown in DCP [Digital Cinema Projection] or in 35 millimeter. You know it’s playing in 35 because it’s the New Beverly."

But is Tarantino’s decision realistic? American Cinematheque director Barbara Smith has said, "Digital is honestly the only way you can possibly stay in business at this point."

Head to the New Beverly website and you will not find a September program–but you can expect an October program soon. Down the line we’ll see films from Tarantino’s private collection, whose highlights include prints of all three Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood films in IB Technicolor. 

Tarantino, meanwhile, is gearing up for production on "The Hateful Eight" in the new year.

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Comments

Daniella Isaacs

Let's be clear, by "severely limiting" we mean that the day will come when, to offer an example, QT wants to show a 40s Hitchcock film and, since all the 35MM prints of "Notorious," "Spellbound," and "Rebecca" are out of commission, we get "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." Instead of Bergman's "Persona" we get "All these Women." Not that I'm against giving minor films their due, but it is programming with one hand tied behind your back. Still, as an experiment/line in the sand, this could be interesting.

Bill Cunningham

This may spell the end of new "pulp" (low budget, exploitation) movies screening at the New Beverly since many of these are shot digitally. Filmmakers simply can't afford to shoot film. Now they can't can't screen it either.

Paul Duncan

QT has over 100 years of "film" history to draw upon from all over the world, and "lost" films are being found/rediscovered every day. Good luck to him.

Poser

QT is not serious about film…unless he forbids theaters from showing HIS films on DCP…lot easier to ban others' stuff.

Anne Thompson

I reported this story separate from the LA Weekly. I was trying to get Torgan to talk to me, and I intuited that he was afraid he was about to lose his job. And I didn't want to contribute to that. Now the cat's out of the bag.

John

Preferring a movie shown from a turning reel to one shown from a spinning disk is like preferring Michaelangelo to Monet because the former painted on wood instead of linen. It distracts from the art, esp. when a bigshot puffs it into an "issue." Smells like a ploy for attention.

Joseph Angier

Looking at this year's New York Film Festival schedule, I see that every single film (except for Paul Thomas Anderson's) is going to be screened in DCP.

KAT

It doesn't seem like Quentin pulled the digital projector from the LA Weekly interview. Did he say that somewhere else?

Angel

He is the beautiful fearless voice of film and the way it is to be enjoyed: beautiful print synched with it's sound and the breath of a projector running.

Dolly West

I applaud this initiative although I know nothing about the family situation of the Beverley, and don't want to venture into that unknown. As for preserving 35mm film and film projection, we're extending the life of the most important record of human experience since film débuted in the late 19th century. No one talks about it (very few), but the brain cannot read a mosaic of electronic bits, beamed into the eye of the spectator (conditioning TV-like effect), in the same way that it responds to the reflected light of moving silver halides, complete images in true shades from black to white, which is transporting and elating. Congratulations to Quentin Tarentino.

Paul Bunnell

We're hoping to screen our 35mm black-and-white anamorphic print of 'The Ghastly Love of Johnny X' at the New Beverly Theatre soon.

joes

Kudos for 'saving' the theater 7 years ago, but, this is a selfish move. Particularly, tossing out a family who ran the theater for 36 years. How many institutions in L.A. last THIRTY-SIX YEARS?

Michael Torgan and his family deserved better.

Brian

There are enough 35mm prints in studio vaults, archives and private collections to keep the theater supplied in repertory programming for decades. Smith's quote, "Digital is honestly the only way you can possibly stay in business at this point," brings to mind the line in CITIZEN KANE, where Thatcher points out to Kane that his newspaper loses a million dollars every year and Kane responds, "At this rate, I'll go out of business–in 60 years!"

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