Quentin Tarantino has the right to say whatever he wants in this country. And chances are that most of the cinephiles who flock to his wildly original, dialogue-driven, dramatic genre reinventions will not withhold their favor because the director criticizes trigger-happy policemen. But talking politics is a double-edged sword when it comes to Hollywood.
Michael Moore can preach to his Liberal political base when he tries to lure moviegoers to see “Where to Invade Next,” his latest reminder of what’s wrong with the way we do things in America (education, feeding school children, vacation time and more come under scrutiny as he visits countries that pay taxes in order to live a lot better than we do), but avowed Lefties like George Clooney know that their movie fans don’t always share their views.
The risk here as Tarantino continues to lead to the news cycle (he’s one of the rare name directors who drives eyeballs) is that the focus will not be on his film, “The Hateful Eight,” which happens to be one of two high-budget period westerns opening on crowded Christmas Day. The other is Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “The Revenant,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio in bloody pioneer action mode. While Tarantino is the marquee draw for his movies, Brad Pitt and DiCaprio did drive some viewers to see “Inglourious Basterds” and “Django Unchained,” respectively.
On the other hand, “The Hateful Eight” is a classic ensemble starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Demian Bechir, Michael Madsen, and Walton Goggins as an octet of very dangerous people trapped in a cabin during a blizzard. I have no doubt that I will be entertained. And I admit that I have often underestimated Tarantino’s box office pull in the past—to his delight. But this one will be a marketing challenge.