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A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
The forecast for Christmas box office calls for snow — and plenty of it. Alejandro G. Inarritu (The Revenant) and Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight) are opening R-rated wintry Westerns Dec. 25 before expanding them nationwide Jan. 8, leading observers to fear a whiteout.
Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is loosely based on the life of fur trapper Hugh Glass. Hateful Eight, set post-Civil War, follows bounty hunters marooned on a mountain pass during a blizzard. It is never ideal when two films of the same ilk go up against each other, but pundits believe this pair has a fighting chance.
“This is especially true in the holiday season when the box office is in full stride and dramas often deliver huge dividends,” says Exhibitor Relations’ Jeff Bock. The films already have begun to jockey, with New Regency and Fox releasing a Revenant trailer days after The Weinstein Co. debuted Hateful footage at Comic-Con in July. (Fox says it was planning for six months to attach The Revenant trailer to Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, which opened July 31).
The first trailer for Tarantino’s movie was released today. Hateful Eight will play exclusively in 70mm for two weeks (at about 100 locations), and Revenant will debut in far fewer locations before going wide, so it could be a long, slow battle (especially if both earn awards attention).
“Quentin’s a genre all to himself, so this will play much broader than a traditional Western,” says TWC distribution chief Erik Lomis. Adds Fox counterpart Chris Aronson, “They couldn’t be two more different movies. Oh yeah, except both are set in the past.”
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