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The new magnum opus of Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight, currently is undergoing its "roadshow" phase. The film is being projected on 70mm film, real honest to god film, in 100 theaters across the country. Because the majority of theaters have converted to digital projection over the years, much of the equipment necessary to show the movie had to be rebuilt and refurbished. There have been several complaints on social media of projectors breaking down in the middle of the film, but exactly how widespread are these issues? According to The Weinstein Company, they’re being overblown.
70mm Ultra Panavision projection hasn’t been used for any movie since the 1960’s. These projectors have been collecting dust in various places ever since. Quentin Tarantino had to have them all taken out of mothballs so that there would be theaters capable of showing The Hateful Eight in the format that he filmed in. While Twitter is full of complaints of broken projectors, Erik Lomis, the president of distribution for the film production company, says the problems are not as widespread as they may appear.
Those tweets don’t give an accurate picture of how well the roadshow 70mm showings have gone. They represent issues that were rare and far between. And when those select occurrences happened, the projectionists immediately fixed the issue or switched to the DCP print, so moviegoers all still got to see Quentin’s incredible film.
It's more likely for people to complain about a bad experience than to praise a good one and that appears to be what's going on here. People who are having no problems aren't making a big deal about it, while those who had bad experiences are letting everybody know. Technical difficulties can never be completely avoided. Even with completely digital projection, sometimes things break. At the same time, switching over to the digital print really shouldn’t be viewed as an acceptable solution when the point of the roadshow is the 70mm version. The movie is great, and should be seen, but this special version is about seeing it on film. Tarantino wanted this to be an experience, but we don’t think this was what he had in mind.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the experience of showing the film can be highly variable from one theater to the next. There are several theaters across the country that have had 70mm projectors for years, and still use them regularly. In those cases, the film tends to go very well. However, in most of the rest of the nation, movie theater projectionists have never actually run film, and the training that they’ve received in order to handle this has been fairly minor. It seems to be these situations are where there are problems.
Our own Eric Eisenberg only saw the first half of the film in its 70mm presentation when it was screened for critics, and projection problems caused the second half to have to switch over to digital. My own showing of the film started nearly 30 minutes late, while I don’t know there were projection issues, it’s the thing that makes the most sense. Having said that, once the film began, there were no problems at all. Others have not been so lucky.
Have you seen The Hateful Eight on actual film? What was your moviegoing experience? Tell us in the comments section below.