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Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ script compared to ‘tense stage play’

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Story of bounty hunters transporting prisoners through 19th-century Wyoming would have been shot in 70mm format

Quentin Tarantino’s cancelled western The Hateful Eight would have centred on two bounty hunters plying their trade in bloody 19th-century Wyoming, according to reports.

Tarantino was left seething earlier this weak after the draft screenplay for his new film was leaked by an unnamed Hollywood agent. He has declared the project defunct, and says he will publish the script in text form instead.

Now the Wrap reports that it has seen the screenplay, which has now been photocopied a number of times and is said to be circulating in Hollywood. Tarantino planned a film in 70mm, an unusual and expensive format recently used by Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master, and there would have been plum roles for Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L Jackson, the site says.

The Hateful Eight reportedly opens on a sweeping Wyoming vista but soon moves indoors to a stagecoach and a haberdashery. The rest of the film is likened to a “tense stage play”. The description recalls Tarantino’s debut, Reservoir Dogs, much of which takes place in a single abandoned warehouse space where a gang of criminals have travelled following a botched heist.

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“Jackson and Madsen would likely both play bounty hunters returning human plunder to a town called Red Rock in exchange for hefty rewards,” reports the Wrap. “Their characters, a former major in the Union army and a man named John Ruth, dominate the first two of the script’s five chapters.

“They run into a southerner named Chris Mannix on the road, and three of them, along with their driver – a living prisoner and three dead bounties strapped to the roof – arrive at a haberdashery to take shelter from an oncoming blizzard. Yet the proprietors, Minnie, Sweet Dave and her other colleagues, are nowhere to be found. In their place are four men, a Southern general (likely Dern), an alleged hangman, a Frenchman named Bob and a cowboy named Joe Gage. Mistrust, coffee and violence ensue.”

The screenplay is said to be peppered with references to 70mm, indicating Tarantino’s determination to proceed in the format. It also features scenes of Russian roulette, and there is plenty of the film-maker’s trademark duplicity.

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The Wrap’s report does not amount to a full script review such as emerged in the wake of the leaking of the screenplay for Tarantino’s previous film, Django Unchained. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely to improve the director’s current temperament. The Pulp Fiction film-maker has laid into unnamed Hollywood agents who he believes may have leaked the screenplay. It was delivered to just six actors, according to Tarantino. CAA, the agency that works for Dern, has denied suggestions it is responsible for the script’s release into the public domain.

Meanwhile, the Wrap also claims to have unveiled details of the film Tarantino could pursue next in The Hateful Eight’s absence. It is described as a prison movie based on the life of the actor Robert Blake, who was acquitted of killing his wife in 2004 but later found guilty in a civil case.

Blake, 80, the star of In Cold Blood and the Baretta TV series, was accused of involvement in the death of his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley, who was shot outside a Los Angeles restaurant in May 2001.

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