Quentin Tarantino is one of the most respected and recognizable directors of the 20th and 21st century, having earned widespread fame for groundbreaking films like Pulp Fiction (1994). Known for his insane violence and snappy dialogue, Tarantino is a cinema-lover at heart. When it came time to release The Hateful Eight (2015) in a special 70mm format, Star Wars and Disney had something interesting to say.
Tarantino moved to sunny Southern California at the age of four. Arriving in La La Land at the height of cinema in the late 1960s, the second age of Hollywood was etched into the filmmaker’s mind. Since then, Tarantino has gone on to break nearly every trope and preconceived idea about cinema, crafting his own form of filmmaking with his directorial debut, Resevoir Dogs (1992).
Hot off the success of his gritty, satirical noir film, Pulp Fiction (1994) was made for a mere $8.5 million and somehow scored an all-star cast of Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, and Harvey Keitel. The bloodiest movie of its time went on to earn a reported $215 million and huge attention. Tarantino became a household name.
Since then, the movie-lover has worked with the cream of the crop, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell, and more.
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When it came time to creating a post-Civil War Western epic, Tarantino rounded up old friends and made the unconventional choice of shooting on 65mm analog stock for an Ultra Panavision 70mm screening — a personal project choice.
As a result, proper The Hateful Eight screenings would require a 70mm projection in theaters — not just on a digital projector.
While crafting The Hateful Eight, the one theater he had in mind was the historic Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, California. Tarantino wanted to show his feature film there more than in any other theater.
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An icon of modern architecture and LA movie magic, the Pacific’s Cinerama Theatre opened its doors in 1963 to rave reviews. The curved screen offered a one-in-a-million viewing option of blockbuster films, including Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015).
Vying for the Cinerama Dome screen, both The Hateful Eight and The Force Awakens debuted during the Christmas season of 2015.
However, the Cinerama Dome only has one screen.
Having premiered The Hateful Eight at the Cinerama Dome in the second week of December 2015, critics and fans alike loved the 70mm projection. As a result, Quentin Tarantino reportedly booked a two-week screening of his new film at the Dome with the ArcLight Company starting December 25, 2015.
Tarantino told Deadline:
“I made ‘The Hateful Eight’ for the [Cinerama] Dome. This is the first time seeing it at the Dome for me too, and it was like I hadn’t even seen it before, not like this.”
However, Disney reportedly stepped into the mix last minute to screen Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the Cinerama Dome over Christmas, interfering with the pre-established agreement between Tarantino and ArcLight.
Quickly earning over $1 billion at the box office, Disney aimed to show The Force Awakens at the beacon of Hollywood theaters, axing Tarantino’s deal with the Cinerama Dome.
According to Medium:
The deal was allegedly secured until Disney reached out to the ArcLight to extend their time at the Dome for their latest blockbuster, Star Wars: Episode VII, The Force Awakens, the director claimed.
The ArcLight told Disney it couldn’t extend because it had a contract with The Hateful Eight.
According to Tarantino, Disney offered Pacific Theaters an offer they couldn’t refuse — show The Force Awakens over the time The Hateful Eight was set to screen at the Cinerama Dome during Christmas, or Disney would pull the new Star Wars film from every ArcLight Theater.
At the time, the Kill Bill (2003) director later went on The Howard Stern Show to vent his frustration:
“I grew up in Los Angeles, so I always thought of the Cinerama Dome as a real big deal.”
“They’ve [Disney] got the biggest movie in the world. We’re talking about one effing theater.”
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Ultimately, The Force Awakens welcomed audiences at the Cinerama Dome that Christmas, not The Hateful Eight.
However, Deadline reports that Disney had already agreed with Pacific Theaters months before the Christmas season to screen The Force Awakens. At the end of the day, though, no one truly knows what agreements went down — except for Disney and Pacific Theaters executives — and the Inglorious Basterds (2009) writer/director lost his slot at the Cinerama Dome.
Tarantino still blames Disney for The Hateful Eight being pushed out of the historic Dome, calling their move “extortionist practices.”
Tarantino later told the NY Daily News:
“I would never work them in any way, shape or form after what they did to me… I made them a lot of money for Pulp Fiction, and that really is a bad way to treat a former employee who has worked very well for them.”
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Tarantino was referring to the fact that in 1993, The Walt Disney Company purchased Miramax for a reported $60 million. A year later, they released Pulp Fiction. Unbeknownst to Miramax and Disney, the bloody indie movie would earn over $200 million at the box office and win the prestigious Palme d’Or, the highest award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Despite this huge win for Miramax and Tarantino, their relationship with Disney didn’t translate two decades later when it came time for the next chapter of the Star Wars universe.
By 2016, both The Force Awakens and The Hateful Eight scored numerous Academy Award and Golden Globe nods, with Tarantino’s Western epic winning the Academy Award for Best Music. The Force Awakens obviously took the crown for box-office wins, but The Hateful Eight is still praised for its bold storytelling with drawn-out dialogue and non-linear storytelling.
Tarantino’s love for the Cinerama Dome didn’t die during this mishap. In his romantic love letter to 1960s Hollywood, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood (2019), Tarantino featured the Cinerama turning on its gorgeous neon during a quick sequence in the film.
In fact, the Django Unchained (2012) director went full circle when premiering Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood in 70mm at the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard — four years after the previous incident with Star Wars.
In the video above, Tarantino welcomes guests to the Cinerama Dome and even mentions his previous screening of The Hateful Eight.
Of course, no one is blaming Star Wars for anything concerning box-office revenue for The Hateful Eight. Nor is Tarantino or Disney to blame for screening conflicts at a theater, as Hollywood is first and foremost a business.
Tarantino has one more movie to go, as the writer/director is only making 10 feature films in his career (Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are technically “one story”).
Hollywood is home to some of the greatest artists in modern times, but no one shines as bright with their own candle-like Tarantino. No matter where he screens his films, people of all tastes can enjoy pure cinema at its finest.
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