the hateful eight iphone

Before Quentin Tarantino permanently severed ties with The Weinstein Company in the wake of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Tarantino was shopping around his 2015 film The Hateful Eight to a few other distributors. But one particularly egregious pitch from Universal may have driven Tarantino back into the arms of The Weinstein Company (Tarantino would later depart for good and make Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with Sony). But things might have been very different if then-Universal head Jeff Shell hadn’t pitched to Tarantino the idea of releasing The Hateful Eight on iPhones.

In a new profile of Jeff Shell published by The Wall Street Journal, it’s revealed that Tarantino had met with the Universal boss to discuss the release of his Western thriller film The Hateful Eight. Tarantino needed a big budget if he were to shoot on 70mm film and retrofit theaters across the country to project the film in that endangered format. But Shell had a brilliant alternative that caused Tarantino to immediately storm out of the meeting: release the film on iPhones.

The Wall Street Journal writes:

“Jeff Shell, at the time the head of the Universal studio, voiced his own pitch. ‘What if we released it on iPhones?’ he said. ‘Great,’ Mr. Tarantino replied, and stormed out of the meeting.”

It’s kind of hilarious that Shell thought the answer to Tarantino proposing an ambitious 70mm release — a format usually reserved for sprawling epics like Lawrence of Arabia, and which is rarely used today except by the most cinema-loving filmmakers — was to release it on the smallest possible screen instead. No wonder Tarantino turned heel immediately and left. It’s like Tarantino requested a wagyu steak and got a can of spam.

But Shell’s more controversial ideas recently have paid off. The NBCUniversal CEO disrupted the movie business as we know it by releasing Trolls: World Tour straight to VOD, and following that up with releases like The King of Staten Island and You Should Have Left. However, he was probably a little off the mark when it comes to iPhones as a replacement for theaters, or even televisions — as we saw with Quibi, you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in the mobile market.

Tarantino would eventually receive around $60 million to produce the movie, and would require more to release it as a 70mm roadshowThe Hateful Eight ended grossing $155 million worldwide, which caused TWC to take a bit of a financial loss. But ironically, Tarantino would end up going a more digital-friendly route in the aftermath of The Hateful Eight theatrical release: the filmmaker partnered with Netflix to release an extended version of the film as an episodic limited series.

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