Three UK theatre chains — Cineworld, Picturehouse and Curzon — have dropped Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight in a row with local distributor Entertainment Film over its decision to award the exclusive West End screening rights to rival chain Odeon. Cineworld, its subsidiary Picturehouse and Curzon have a combined 135 screens. As per Tarantino’s wishes, the film will initially be released in select venues on 70mm Ultra Panavision, the first theatrical release of this kind in the UK in half a century. Entertainment Film, in a statement, has asserted the costs associated with screening the film in this rare format make exclusivity a necessity.
“Due to the special facilities required for the unique 70mm Ultra Panavision presentation we needed the largest theatre and screen possible in the West End and the Odeon Leicester Square was the natural choice,” said an Entertainment statement. “The technical elements and costs involved with this special presentation meant that this would need to be the exclusive West End venue.”
The flagship Odeon Leicester Square main screen seats 1,680 in comparison to Cineworld’s Picturehouse Central site, whose largest screen seats 344. Entertainment was for years the UK’s most powerful indie distrib, thanks to a now-expired output deal with New Line as well as ongoing strong relationships with the likes of the Weinstein Co. before the emergence in recent years of super-indies like StudioCanal and eOne. Entertainment maintained that both Cineworld and Picturehouse had the opportunity to book the film on equitable terms at its other venues in London and across the country and were keen to keep the door open to an amicable resolution. “If Cineworld change their mind by tomorrow morning and decide to book the film in the proper way along the lines of the other exhibitors we would be happy for them to do so,” added Entertainment.
For now, however, it appears both Cineworld and Picturehouse, as well as Curzon, are sticking to their guns. “We love a Quentin Tarantino movie but it is with great regret that we will not be showing The Hateful Eight from Friday 8 January. On this occasion, the distributor has chosen to screen the film only in 70mm in the West End and in selected venues nationwide,” a Curzon rep posted on Twitter.
Tarantino’s blood-soaked Western starring Kurt Russell, Samuel L Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh opens in the UK on Friday. The film will be released in both the Odeon and Vue chains across the country.
“We feel very sorry for Cineworld’s customers and in particular their Unlimited cardholders who will be denied the chance to see the film at a Cineworld cinema using their Unlimited card — a result of this Picturehouse issue relating to a single London West End cinema. As far as the general release is concerned we will be booking more sites with other exhibitors to compensate for Cineworld’s lack of support,” added Entertainment in their statement.