Monday night's premiere of "The Hateful Eight" was expected to offer many flourishes, including a "road show" style overture, an intermission and -- it had been rumored -- a protest by police angered by director Quentin Tarantino's statements about law enforcement violence.
As screening time approached at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, though, the only police officers in sight were four uniformed (but off-duty) Los Angeles Police Department officers providing security. A couple of them evinced no interest in the complaints about Tarantino. After six weeks of jousting via media, a showdown between Tarantino and police appeared to have fizzled, at least for now.
That left Tarantino and his team an open forum to talk about his three-hour-plus Western and what he hopes will be a return of "event" films. Richard Gladstein, one of the producers on the film, said he thought audiences were ready for the 70 mm presentation, with intermission, that will greet audiences at select theaters.
Tarantino did not comment on the police controversy, but Gladstein said he did not think it would affect the movie. "Quentin spoke from his heart about how he felt about certain injustices," Gladstein said. "The only logical response to that is applause."
Tarantino had said before the premiere that he was prepared for picketing or some other attempt by police unions to "embarrass" him. He called such demonstrations within the officers' rights, but he said that some of the reaction might have been based on media or union leaders misconstruing what he said.
Tarantino's trouble with union groups began in late October at a Brooklyn rally against excessive force by law enforcement. In brief remarks at the protest, the director described himself as "a human being with a conscience," adding, "And when I see murder, I cannot stand by, and I have to call the murdered the murdered, and I have to call the murderers the murderers."
Although he did not say all cops were killers, that was the way many in the media interpreted his remarks. A furor erupted, with multiple police organizations berating the filmmaker and saying they would boycott "The Hateful Eight."
Tarantino emphasized that, when he talked about murder, he was referring to specific instances in which unarmed individuals, usually African-American, where shot and killed. "All cops are not murderers," Tarantino told the Los Angeles Times. "I never said that. I never even implied that."
As recently as last weekend, he remained unapologetic about his comments and said he expected picketing at early showings of "The Hateful Eight." He explained that reactions to the police naturally differ from neighborhood to neighborhood. He said that when he sees a cop driving around his Hollywood Hills neighborhood, "I actually assume that he has my best interest at heart, and he has the best interest in my property at heart." Tarantino said that people in Pasadena, Glendale and some other neighborhoods might have the same reaction. But in South Los Angeles and Inglewood, citizens have a more critical reaction to the police, after years of feeling they have taken the brunt of law enforcement actions, the director said.