Wait, Did Quentin Tarantino Overreact By Cancelling Hateful Eight?
By now, you’ve probably heard the Quentin Tarantino news, but just in case you haven’t, let me give you the cliff notes version in a few sentences. He wrote a movie called The Hateful Eight. The citizens of the world collectively agreed it sounded awesome. He turned over the script to 6 people he trusted. One of those people showed the script to an agent, who in turn sent it around Hollywood, with some specifics about various roles. Tarantino, always a fiery guy, felt so betrayed he promptly abandoned the project yesterday, claiming he would publish the screenplay and make a different film.
Not surprisingly, most people seem to be responding to the news with great vengeance and furious anger toward the unknown culprit who leaked the script, but there are actually a minority of people out there who have had the opposite response, who don’t seem to understand why he's taken the soccer ball and gone home when he could have merely discovered the culprit and excluded him from the movie as punishment.
So, let’s have a real conversation about this. Let’s take a logical look at the pros and cons of Tarantino abandoning The Hateful Eight and see how the chips actually stack up.
The Pros Of Moving On
It sends a clear message to Hollywood that leaking one of his scripts will never be tolerated. You know those parents who say, "If you don’t stop yelling, we’re going to go home" and then watch their kids continue to yell without actually leaving? Tarantino is not one of those parents. When he sets down ground rules, you can bet your ass those rules will be followed, and this is the clearest evidence of that we’ve ever gotten. No one will ever leak one of his scripts again because he will name names, he will abandon projects and he will make a gigantic scene. Moving forward, I bet a significant percentage of actors don’t even show the script to their wives, husbands or parents. And for a director who likes writing twists and turns, that has huge value.
It allows him to clear his head and get excited about a different project. Sometimes when the bad vibes and bad karma are flowing around a project, the best thing to do is wander away for quite awhile until you get excited about it again. Clearly, Tarantino was irate about what happened here, and even if his reaction was over the top, it doesn’t change the fact that the breach in security sucked all of the excitement he had out of the project. Making a movie is an arduous, exhausting, frustrating, frequently miserable task, and that’s even under the best of circumstances with nothing but positive momentum. God only knows how hard it would be to finish a movie you weren’t even interested in making to begin with.
It might get him away from making yet another Western. I may have thought Django was a little bit long, but basically, it was a damn good movie worthy of the accolades it got. Looking back, I’m really happy Tarantino decided to honor Spaghetti Westerns by putting his own stamp on the genre, but to be honest, I’m really not sure I’m interested in him revisiting the Great American West so quickly. Now, full disclosure, there’s a very real chance he might just make a different Western, but it could also be the rumored horror movie or even a return to the fast-talking crime genre he originally played within.
He could still make this movie in the future. Just because he’s going to step away from The Hateful Eight now and look into making something else doesn’t mean he won’t ever get excited about circling back. Besides, God only knows how many additional brilliant ideas he could come up with to add to the script if he casually works on it for a half decade in between other projects. It’s not like there’s a real fear of him running into funding problems or not being able to attract A-list talent. Damn near everyone in Hollywood wants to work with the director. He can pull a project like this out of development hell with one stroke of his pen.
The Cons Of Moving On
Clearly, there was something that attracted him to this project in the first place. He can talk until he’s blue in the face about how many other brilliant projects he can pull out of the rabbit’s ass, but this is the one he sat down and decided to make. This is the one he started sending around to possible stars to read through, which means, until about a week ago, he thought it was the most promising thing he had on the table. Now it’s just gone, and that sucks. It’s the equivalent of F Scott Fitzgerald just throwing away a novel in the middle of his prime, and even if he releases it as a screenplay, it’s not the same thing as getting the actual movie.
Releasing it as a screenplay will (probably) force drastic re-writes later. An overwhelming majority of movie fans don’t read screenplays, even when they’re by Tarantino. A very, very vocal minority do, however, and that vocal minority will take to Facebook and say troll things like, "OMG, everyone but the old guy dies at the end. #HatefulEight", and the rest of us will never, ever forget that. One or two big spoilers will be lodged in our brain forever, and I can’t imagine Tarantino will be comfortable releasing a movie into the general public in which a solid percentage of people already know how it ends. So, he’ll have to sit down and do extensive work to it, and for all we know, all the moving pieces could already add up perfectly.
We may never get a chance to see Tarantino work with Bruce Dern again. We don’t know a whole lot about Hateful Eight, but we do know the script was only sent to three actors: Michael Madsen, Tim Roth and Bruce Dern. Given their ages and long-term relationships with Tarantino, I have complete confidence in the first two finding ways to work with the filmmaker again, but Dern is seventy-seven-years-old. He was clearly in line for a major role in the film given he was sent a copy of the script. Maybe he’ll be able to take on that role in the future, but there’s just no way to know for sure, which is a shame considering how brilliant he was in Django.
It makes Tarantino look like an overly emotional loose cannon. The director has always been a man willing to speak his mind. He doesn’t like sugar coating things and he doesn’t mind giving his honest opinion, even when it’s about his own movies, but what happened here was a whole ‘nother step in that direction. In fact, it’s dangerously close to loose cannon territory. The script wasn’t actually leaked to the general public. It got around to some agents, which would have happened anyway. By freaking out and abandoning the project, he kinda sounds like Phil Dunphy when he told the kids he would cancel Christmas if no one confessed to burning the couch on Modern Family. The most aggressive reaction isn’t always the right one.
The Final Analysis
On the surface, Tarantino overreacted. There aren’t any logical reasons why he couldn’t have rooted out the leaker and punished them in a very specific way in line with his lapse in judgment, but very little about pouring your heart and soul into something for multiple years is logical.
To make a movie, you need passion, energy, positivity, extreme opinions and a whole lot of love. If the director felt so betrayed by what happened that he couldn’t properly give those emotions, than it’s probably a good thing for all of us that he didn’t continue on. I think the last thing people want to see from him is a mediocre movie that doesn’t live up to his talent. So, if he needs to switch to a different project in order to get the momentum flowing in the right direction again, it’s probably best we all back off and let him have that. After all, he’s given us more than enough reasons to smile over the years.
What do you think? Was it the right call for QT to abandon Hateful Eight? Let us know your thoughts by voting in the poll below…
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