Quentin Tarantino loves cinema: the idea of it, watching it, talking about it, participating in it. He's the most genuine fan you can imagine, which is part of what makes it so fun to hear him speak about making movies. And that's what a huge part of Tarantino's Comic-Con panel was devoted to, in particular the decision to shoot The Hateful Eight in 70mm — a wide and detailed format that's twice the size of traditional filmstock.
"If they shoot it in 70, then they'll have to screen it in 70."
Tarantino's decision to use 70mm wasn't entirely aesthetic. For him, it seems to be more about being a part of cinematic history. As more and more of Hollywood moves over to digital, Tarantino is making a point of hanging onto the past. He's aware that he can sound a touch like a curmudgeon — "That's not the industry that I signed up for," he said while discussing digital projection — but so be it. He loves real film. It's all that he wants to shoot.
Most directors don't have that luxury, but this is Tarantino we're talking about. If a studio wants him to make a movie, they give him film. And Tarantino doesn't just want his movie shot on film, he also wants to make sure that it's screened on film. That's another reason why he decided on 70mm. "I thought if they shoot it in 70, then they'll have to screen it in 70," he said.
Tarantino is even trying to make an event out of the movie's 70mm release. When it comes out on Christmas, it'll be playing exclusively in 70mm for two weeks before theaters will be able to play it any other way. And while Tarantino hasn't said specifically that there'll be any other bonuses for heading out to those screenings, his panel suggested that they could be a lot more elaborate than anyone expects.
Samuel L. Jackson recorded a Tarantino-style monologue about roadshows
The panel opened with a video of Samuel L. Jackson explaining the concept of a roadshow, describing how certain films used to give audiences a much different experience. There would be an overture, an intermission, and exit music, and you'd get a program telling you about the movie. The movies often had about 10 minutes of extra footage, too. It's not clear if The Hateful Eight will follow all of those conventions, but it certainly sounds like Tarantino wants to give people the chance to have a classic cinematic experience.
And so much about the creation of The Hateful Eight feels like it's about Tarantino reveling in the nostalgia of classic cinema. Not only is he shooting it in 70mm, he's shooting it in Ultra Panavision, a super-wide format that only 10 other films have used — most of which are 1960s classics. It's the same format that was used to shoot Ben Hur, and you can really feel Tarantino's excitement when he says, "It's not that they used these same types of lenses on Ben Hur. They used these lenses on Ben Hur. They only made one set of them."
"It's not just for shooting scenery. It's for shooting great drama."
While the decision to use 70mm Ultra Panavision seems to be heavily rooted in these throwbacks, Tarantino doesn't intend to use the format quite like anyone else. The Hateful Eight takes place largely inside of one small building, the super-wide shots allowing you to see distinct frames of action on either side of the main subject. "I'm looking forward to my movie breaking that notion that 70mm is for travelogues. 'It's to shoot Lawrence of Arabia, desertscapes, and mountainscapes.' No. When you shoot 70mm indoors, it's more intimate. More vivid and vital. It's not just for shooting scenery. It's for shooting great drama."
That said, don't think that Tarantino has stopped thinking about classic westerns. He capped the entire panel off with one final announcement, something that only a film nerd like Tarantino — and those in attendance at Hall H — would flip out about: that Ennio Morricone, the legendary composer who scored classic westerns like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, is creating the score for The Hateful Eight. It'll be his first western in 40 years, Tarantino pointed out.
Toward the close of the panel, Tarantino was asked to elaborate on comments he's made about potentially retiring from filmmaking after 10 movies. He quickly clarified that he's more interested in starting a discussion than setting a hard figure, but one of the things that could make him want to retire is simply not being able to shoot and project on real film anymore.
"The thing I don't like about digital projection is it's just HBO in public," Tarantino says. But he adds: "If that happens everywhere, then I can just move to television." If that's what Tarantino's retirement looks like, I'm not sure anyone will complain.