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The mysterious case of The Hateful Eight leaves fans scratching their heads.
For as long as movies have been getting made, the scripts have been leaked beforehand. It happened to Citizen Kane, it happened to The Avengers, and now it’s happened to Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, a Western revenge romp that was to be the filmmaker’s ninth feature. Instead, now that one of the six people he entrusted with the screenplay let it slip, the director claims he’ll release it as a book and go to work on an entirely different project.
A “very, very depressed” Tarantino called Deadline Hollywood to relay the decision, setting in motion an industry whodunit by naming those who had early access to the work-in-progress. Cast-wise, he was eyeing actors Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, and Tim Roth, but one of them gave it to their agent, “and that agent has now passed it on to everyone in Hollywood.” He added:
“I don’t know how these fucking agents work, but I’m not making this next. I’m going to publish it, and that’s it for now. I give it out to six people, and if I can’t trust them to that degree, then I have no desire to make it. I’ll publish it. I’m done. I’ll move on to the next thing.”
That sequence of events would explain why Tarantino’s agent, Mike Simpson, was suddenly flooded with calls from colleagues who were pitching their clients for specific roles in The Hateful Eight. But to call this a “leak” when Tarantino had dispersed the material himself, and without a watermark, is a bit of a stretch; he seems more distraught about the personal “betrayal.” And while the prime suspect (Dern’s agency, CAA) might well have spread the script around town, it’s more than a little baffling that outlets are reporting that the script is now online, since there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of evidence for this claim.
Despite the Guardian, Time, the Huffington Post and others all somehow alluding to the script’s appearance or ubiquity on the Internet—which would no doubt cut into whatever money or impact Tarantino hopes to make with a print version—The Hateful Eight is conspicuously absent from the usual file-sharing hotspots. Torrent searches only turn up digital copies of Tarantino’s earlier films. You can find a copy of the Kill Bill screenplay on Pirate Bay, at least. On message boards and in comment sections, fans wondered just where you could get a PDF of this thing.
Over on Reddit, a similar request was addressed by a poster who surmised that the leak was still confined to professional circles—and noted Tarantino’s historical indifference to Internet leaks, so long as they occurred after production was underway. Tarantino confirmed this attitude to Deadline, saying, “I do like the fact that everyone eventually posts it, gets it and reviews it on the ‘net. Frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I like the fact that people like my shit, and that they go out of their way to find it and read it.”
Thus far, it appears the only halfway solid proof of the “online” leak is this fairly dubious image of a title page, tweeted by Jeff Sneider, a film reporter for TheWrap. Perhaps, then, the script is being circulated electronically, just not through a Dropbox or Zippyshare URL that anyone can get to. (Sneider did not reply to demands that he post a download link for the full document.)
That was quick! The Tarantino cover page… pic.twitter.com/E0imPak4A0
— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) January 22, 2014
Of course, The Hateful Eight may yet become a reality. All Tarantino has actually said is that the film won’t be his next, not that it’s going into a vault to be opened after his death. In other words, you can keep watching out for spoilers.
Update: Now, at long last, the Internet has caught up with the headlines—you can officially download the 146-page script.
Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions, and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'