*Throughout his career, Quentin Tarantino has never been a stranger to controversy. But his appearance at a rally in Manhattan protesting police brutality may come back to bite him at the box office when his film “The Hateful Eight” hits theaters at the end of the year.
On a commercial front, the violent Western is being promoted as a must-see on Christmas Day as well as a certified contender as awards season approaches for the film industry.
“The first concern in any kind of position where a film is being attacked by a group outside of Hollywood is not about awards, it’s about commercial impact. Everyone needs to make money,” said a top studio consultant, who spoke to The Wrap on condition of anonymity.
The forecast over “The Hateful Eight” springs from beef the New York police union has with Tarantino, who set it off Saturday (Oct. 24) when he slammed NYPD officers with labeling them as “murderers.”
“I have to call a murder a murder and I have to call the murderers the murderers,” the filmmaker told protesters.
In addition to the union, Tarantino caught the wrath of New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who expressed nothing but contempt for the director.
“There are no words to describe the contempt I have for him and his comments at this particular time,” Bratton said.
The Wrap notes that the beef entered a new phase when NY police union president Patrick Lynch encouraged folks to react to Tarantino’s comments by taking it out on his films, saying “New Yorkers need to send a message to this purveyor of degeneracy. It’s time for a boycott of Quentin Tarantino‘s films.”
With all the tension arising from the protests, Lynch and Bratton’s remarks could be the spark that motivates moviegoers in New York and police supporters nationwide to avoid seeing “Hateful Eight.”
“Quentin is not exactly George Clooney. He’s a not a person who divides the country with his well-informed opinions,” the consultant stated while pointing out that Tarantino isn’t the one people turn to for guidance on social issues.
“Quentin is pretty much across the board larger than life. Harvey Weinstein could make the case his movies are outlets, and the violence is done as hyperbole. There’s no reason for them to come out and start talking… he should be stepping up and saying, ‘Don’t talk or apologize for me, let me get out of my own hole.’”
Acknowledging Tarantino’s affinity for violence in his films, Linda Ong, CEO of brand agency TruthCo, believes this makes him relevant regarding real-life conversation on the issue at hand.
“Tarantino’s long-held cultural perspective on violence gives him an interesting space to speak on it. This feud resonates with his uber-fans and could drive others to see his film,” Ong told The Wrap. “[He] should own his stance as always, he’s been in hotter water before. Courting controversy is a big part of his brand.”
With awards season right around the corner, Tarantino’s comments may hurt Weinstein and his company in the short term, but it could end up working in favor of “Hateful Eight” with awards buzz and conversation sparked.
“Weinstein is in a position to make a call for dialogue and discussion, possibly hosting a forum or other public event that recognizes and respects the union’s perspective,” Ong said.
Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” is set for limited release on Christmas Day. For more on the fallout from Tarantino’s remarks, click here.