Did piracy hurt THE HATEFUL EIGHT?

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The Hateful Eight opens locally in little over two weeks, but I’m still not sure if I’m going to watch it. There was a time when a Quentin Tarantino movie was an automatic reason to rush to the big movie house. But I’m not sold on this new film’s concept: a single room thriller with lots of talking. That sounds a little too much like the worst parts of Death Proof.

Ironically I enjoy single-location movies, yet one featuring near three-hours of Tarantino dialogue? He’s good, but not that good…

Critically the crowd is divided on Hateful Eight’s merits, but financially it is already one of Tarantino’s worst openers. It will have its strong defenders – I don’t think there is a movie by the big Q that has not attracted a cult following – and it probably is good in a lot of ways. Tarantino has yet to (in my opinion) make an awful movie. But he has made disappointing ones and Hateful Eight may be one of them.

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No doubt many of you know that a screener of the movie has surfaced over the festive season. Just last week the piracy group responsible for that release sent out an apology of sorts, though a bit of a backhanded one:

Since everyone is now talking about this movie we dont think the producers will loose any money at cinedate, and we tell you now why. we actually think this has created a new type of media hype that is more present in the news, radio and in the papers than starwars, and the promotional costs for this were free

Are they right? Did piracy help Tarantino’s film? I don’t think so. (And notwithstanding the ridiculous claim that Hateful Eight‘s leak generated more media coverage than Star Wars got.)

The general pros and cons of movie piracy is a bit like getting into a religious debate: everyone has a view that they believe is right, but there is actually no absolute answer. There are studies that demonstrate how piracy can aid movie revenues, though sometimes the results are misconstrued. The movie industry is also prone to being a Cassandra that cries wolf. It has valid concerns, yet also a tendency to completely conflate and exaggerate things. In the debate over piracy, it’s very hard to find balanced opinions such as this one.

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But The Hateful Eight is not doing well. Remember, this is Tarantino’s first release since the monumental Django Unchained and preceded by a wave of hype kickstarted by a leaked script saga. Yet since opening to a more regular 1,000+ theatres in the U.S., The Hateful Eight has not stepped up much. It went from making about a million a day off 100 theatres to $3 million off nearly 2,000 theatres.

Sicario, which currently ranks around the 50s in the top-earning movies of the past 365 days, did better (though it did briefly show in more theatres). The point is, to measure The Hateful Eight’s performance, we have to reach pretty deep into last year’s releases. In Tarantino’s own body of work the closest comparison is Jackie Brown, probably the most popularly disliked of his movies.

Ouch.

If the leaked screener did help Hateful Eight’s fortunes, it’s not showing in the numbers…

Last Updated: January 12, 2016

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it's something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway - even video nasties need love...

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