The Weinstein Co., which is always willing to opportunistically shift release plans, is taking Quentin Tarantino’s bloody western “The Hateful Eight” into wide stateside release a week earlier than previously scheduled. The digital multiplex opening is now moved up to New Year’s Day, in order to take advantage of lucrative holiday playing time. This means a jam-packed release corridor just got more crowded, although many theaters welcome fresh blood after the height of the Christmas rush. TWC wants to maximize the theatrical returns on the movie starring Tarantino veterans Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern, plus newcomers Jennifer Jason Leigh and Demián Bichir.
The multiplex digital version of the movie is slightly trimmed, without the opening overture and the 12-minute intermission, producer Stacey Sher told me, and it’s as “lovingly hand-crafted as the 70 mm roadshow. Removing the intermission required him to balance and reexamine the film; he loves both versions, which are in their optimal handcrafted form. He knows that the large majority will see the multiplex version.” That’s the version that will be sent as Academy screeners and released on DVD. The screeners were delayed because of the lengthy process of preparing the 70 mm prints for release, which cost the film exposure via the SAG Awards and Golden Globes.
Moving up the release date bears no relation to the film’s painstakingly supported 70 mm roadshow on 100 national screens—the widest such release in 20 years— that starts Christmas Day. That’s going forward as planned, despite unsettling glitches at some early LA screenings. TWC scoured the country for 70 mm projectors and spare parts to expand the number of theaters that could project the movie beyond existing venues like Sunset Boulevard’s Cinerama Dome and NY’s Village East. Hopefully there are enough veteran projectionists who remember how to thread a print and splice film. TWC is shipping heavy platters directly to theaters and is poised to offer trouble-shooting and support.
Whatever the risk, it’s worth seeing the film on the biggest possible screen in 70 mm; it’s stunning.
Meanwhile Michael Moore’s new documentary “Where To Invade Next,” which was set to open on December 23, has postponed its launch to President’s Weekend on February 12, during primary season. It’s hard to secure the best theaters during the intense holiday stretch when theaters are most in demand, even for canny distributors like ex-Radius chiefs Tom Quinn and Jason Janego and Alamo Drafthouse’s Tim League; “Where to Invade Next” is the first release for their still-untitled new company.
The Academy’s documentary branch already shortlisted the film ahead of one-week Oscar-qualifying runs in one Los Angeles and one New York theater. Moore, who likes nothing better than talking politics in front of a crowd with a microphone, having completed a whirlwind circuit of the fall film festivals, convinced his distributors to let him take the movie on a six-week campaign bus tour starting in January with a premiere in every state, he told Deadline. So they pushed back the release with a plan to broaden to several hundred theaters. They’ll take advantage of the time period ramping up to the New Hampshire primary.